In Terms and Conditions by Helen J. Darling we're reunited with Jane Desmond (I'll Know Me When I Find Me) who has decided to move to New York City and leave behind her dead-end job, successful friends, and an overprotective mother. Her hope for her new life in the big city is to find a job in the literary scene. Day one everything that could go wrong does go wrong and more. Day two is a very expensive sightseeing excursion and by day three Jane decides it's time to look for a job. She had assumed finding a job would be easy. It's not. Either is convincing her mother that everything is going great in her new life. Jane finds herself making a promise to post daily updates on social media on how things are going. There's only one problem with this and that's Jane's decision to keep from family and friends what is really going on in her life. Several days and several job interviews later and things are starting to look up for Jane. Little does she know things are about to go very wrong for her in her new life in New York City.
Darling has created a fun, delightful, and easy to like character in Jane Desmond. While I'll Know Me When I Find Me introduced us to Jane at a time of self-discovery, Terms and Conditions transforms her into a well-developed character that the reader can definitely relate to. I enjoyed getting to know New York City and at times, due to the attention paid to detail, felt as if I was right there with Jane starting over. I liked the way the story unraveled and would describe it as a real page turner that kept me both guessing and shouting with joy to the end. Terms and Conditions caught my attention right away because I've often thought of moving to NYC and starting over. I also liked how the author had Jane face a variety of new city/new life situations. It was a bonus that the solutions to the various situations were resourceful as well as savvy.
This is a well-written book that tells an interesting, albeit at times complicated story of moving to a new place and starting over. The pace of the book was perfect and the subject matter well-researched without being too technical. Though it's not necessary to read Darling's debut novel before reading Terms and Conditions, readers will find themselves wanting to read both.
A woman takes the “fake it till you make it” approach to a new level after moving to New York City in this comic novel from Darling (I’ll Know Me When I Find Me, 2018).
Thirty-five-year-old Jane Desmond has moved to New York, hoping to break into the publishing industry. Unfortunately, her mother, Linda, back home in Virginia, can’t stop badgering her for updates. Jane agrees to post one selfie a day to Facebook in order to assuage any maternal anxieties—and to show off her glamorous new lifestyle. The only problem? Her life isn’t actually that glamorous. She’s having trouble finding an apartment and a job, and her car window is quickly smashed within three hours of her arrival. But her mom doesn’t have to know that, right? As Jane begins selectively editing her selfies for the folks at home, she ends up presenting an increasingly rosy—and fictional—version of her life in the big city. Unfortunately, the lies told for her mother’s benefit begin to take their toll: “the pressure of constructing a happy story for her benefit drained me in a way I hadn’t anticipated. Each day she responded to my posts, ‘Looks like you’re doing great!’ and I was, I was fine, but not in the way she thought I was.” Can Jane figure out a way to live honestly in New York without feeling like a total loser? Darling narrates Jane’s misadventures with empathy and irony in equal measure. Once Jane moves into an apartment above a fish market, her neighbor Tessa explains that cats love their fire escape: “They’re nice company but don’t pet them. I did once when I first moved in and the thing bit me, and then my hand got infected. So just smile and wave.” The novel is rather thin on plot, but the urban experiences are well told and should be enjoyable to anyone who has moved alone to a new city. Although Jane suffers a number of minor catastrophes, the book never gets so dark that it will put off readers looking for light fiction. This is Darling’s second novel about Jane, and while readers don’t need to be familiar with the first one to follow the plot of this book, they may end up looking forward to the next one.
A light, funny account of a woman’s attempt to make it in New York.