Terms and Conditions by Robert Glancy

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Terms and Conditions by Robert Glancy

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Category: General Fiction
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Trish Simpson-Davis
Reviewed by Trish Simpson-Davis
Summary: A cleverly comic allegory of modern life itself … all is not as it seems when Franklyn wakes up from a coma with no memory but sharpened sensibilities.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 272 Date: February 2014
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1408852200

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This is a slow bowl with a wicked curl! The hero, Franklyn wakes up in hospital; he discovers that he has had a car accident, but he can’t remember anything. Alice, Franklyn’s wife, and Oscar, his brother, are full of loving concern and his work colleagues are solicitous, but Franklyn soon senses a lack of authenticity in his family members and starts to sniff round to discover why.

As his memory returns, Franklyn pieces together the events leading up to the accident. His was anything but the peaceful, happy life Alice and Oscar try to simulate to his post-accident self. Well, it’s a generic start that could herald a crime, spy thriller, science fiction, romance … anything really, and it took a little while to realise what a clever little idea Robert Glancy has developed in this quirky debut novel of his ... an allegory of modern life itself.

As you may guess from the title, Franklyn comes from a legal family and is a Terms and Conditions expert. He’s inclined to diffidence, but with a new, tough, clarity to his brain, he questions the value of his role without sending himself back into paranoia. Drip feeding the terms and conditions under which Franklyn has previously been operating makes it impossible not to sympathise with his lot. By the climax the hero had endeared himself to me, so that I was cheering – shouting even – from the sidelines for him to wreak his revenge. I was really sorry that the pages turned as quickly as they did.

To be honest, I felt that the comic characters weren't the strongest, but they set off the ironic flavour of the novel very nicely. Developing a character through footnotes is unusual, and there were quite a few laughs to be had at Franklyn’s thoughts, so obviously at odds with his spoken words. After a while, I became rather irritated with those idiosyncratic footnotes, and took to ignoring them, but then I wondered if I was supposed to react like that. So that interesting way of manipulating me made me ponder a little more about the relationship between the hero and the reader.

One little quibble: the setting isn’t entirely convincing either, the legal stuff seeming more American than English. But here again I was wondering if the writer was writing from a more sophisticated viewpoint about London than I will ever achieve. All in all, an intriguing book whichever way you approached it, and one I enjoyed. I think that this developing writer’s next novel will be a real cracker, and I’ll be looking out for it.

My thanks to the publishers for sending this book.

Oh Dear Silvia by Dawn French has the same ICU start-point, but the story unfolds in a completely different way; Anonymous Lawyer by Jeremy Blachman has the same legal background, though set in the US and How I Became a Famous Novelist by Steve Hely has the same sort of flavour. Finally, it takes all sorts – of men, that is – so how about trying The Terrible Privacy of Maxwell Sim by Jonathan Coe?

Buy Terms and Conditions by Robert Glancy at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Terms and Conditions by Robert Glancy at Amazon.co.uk

Buy Terms and Conditions by Robert Glancy at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Terms and Conditions by Robert Glancy at Amazon.com.


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