Expectation by Anna Hope
Publishing Date: 11th July 2019
Source: Received from the publisher via NetGalley, thank you!
Number of pages: 322
Genre: General Fiction (Adult)
‘If you wished Normal People had tackled female friendship, try Expectation’ GRAZIA
‘Will resonate with approximately 99% of women’ RED MAGAZINE summer pick
Hannah, Cate and Lissa are young, vibrant and inseparable. Living on the edge of a common in East London, their shared world is ablaze with art and activism, romance and revelry – and the promise of everything to come. They are electric. They are the best of friends.
Ten years on, they are not where they hoped to be. Amidst flailing careers and faltering marriages, each hungers for what the others have. And each wrestles with the same question: what does it take to lead a meaningful life?
The most razor-sharp and heartbreaking novel of the year, EXPECTATION is a novel about finding your way: as a mother, a daughter, a wife, a rebel.
FOR FANS OF SALLY ROONEY, DIANA EVANS, DOLLY ALDERTON, ELIZABETH DAY AND FLEABAG
“Expectation” introduces us to three best friends, Cate, Hannah and Lissa, and follows their lives from the carefree and easy twenties, back to their troubled teens, to the harsh reality of thirties and forties. They used to share a house in East London, sharing their dreams and expectations for the future, enjoying their lives, friendship and fun. Ten years on and life hasn’t panned out as they’d like it to. Cate has recently moved to Kent with her new family, husband and a baby but she’s not sure if it’s really what she wants, especially as she feels so isolated; Hannah is trying her third round of IVF, desperate for a child, not noticing that this desire for a baby is destroying her marriage; Lissa is still trying to make it as an actress. How did they get there, wrestling with envy over each other’s lives?
It is a bitter – sweet and brutally raw and honest story exploring the highs and lows of friendship, showing different faces of this relationship.
The story flips backwards and forwards in time, changing the narration between the three women and tells, very realistically and honest, their happiest and saddest moments in their lives, showing how your point of view changes with increasing age, how you start to see the same things differently gaining experience. The author has so well captured the difference between the carefree, sunny days when they were in their twenties and had no real problems, and then when the reality brutally came and bitten them years later. I loved how the stories seamlessly intertwined together and how realistic they felt. The book is beautifully written.
I must admit that the characters were not the most likeable ones, and I actually have never warmed to any of the three friends. They were all determined in their own ways and yes, they fought for their own happiness, which is commendable, but it was at any cost. However, they were all so very well drawn, with their flaws, annoying habits but also their good points and they felt like living and breathing people, making mistakes and not always learning their lesson. Cate was the golden girl, with her First from Cambridge but because of a heartbreak she just gave up and is working in a cafe. Hannah, rejected from Cambridge, turned the disappointment into a successful career. And Lissa, the gorgeous one, convinced of her beauty and talent simply waiting for the big break that is going to make her a star. Fast forward ten years and Cate is struggling with being a mother, with a husband that she isn’t sure she loves, in a house far away from her friends and family. Hannah is on another round of IVF, not accepting the fact that life doesn’t run as smoothly as she has planned it, the strain of it all slowly starting to show in her marriage. And Lissa is still waiting for this big break, still seeking her mother’s approval, still single. None of these women’s expectations resemble this what they dreamed about, so where do they go next? As it usually happens in life, reality is a bitch – they drifted apart a little, and well, everything changes when you’re getting older, no?
I thought it’s going to be a light – hearted, easy read but there was so much more to it. There was depth and truth, with the author so beautifully exploring friendship that have ups and downs, that can have better and worse moments, about womanhood in very wide spectrum and how to live up to expectations the society and life make the women choose, and if you can live up to them at all, if it’s possible. Thought – provoking and very up – to – date, bringing great discussion topics about the gaps between reality and dream and expectations, between how your life appears to other people and how it really is for you. There is betrayal, hope, heartbreak, ugly secrets and unpleasant truths in this elegant, eloquent, bitter – sweet examination of womanhood, a compelling page turner about real female friendship, showing us how to ponder happiness and to find yourself and what makes you happy. Truly recommended!