Expectation by Anna Hope Doubleday July 11th 2019
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?
EXPECTATION is a novel of the highs and lows of friendship – how it can dip, dive and rise again.
It is also about finding your way: as a mother, a daughter, a wife, a rebel. Most of all, it explores that liminal space between expectation and reality, the place – full of dreams, desires and pain – in which we all live our lives.
Expectations was one of those novels that you didn’t want to end, that you needed to read slowly, to saviour every word on the page.
It was a novel that I have to admit, made me sob, not because it was unbelievably sad, although in places it was, but because it told the story of the lives of three ordinary women. They were women that you could see some of yourself in each of them, that resonated, made you remember both the good times and the bad.
Hannah, oh Hannah, how my heart ached as her attempts to conceive were thwarted. Her inability to control events, to let herself be free and spontaneous led to such devastating consequences, her life filled with such anguish by Hope, the desperation and failure set bare upon the pages.
Cate, mother to baby Tom, so lost in the throes of motherhood, drowned in maternal love, yet not sure how to handle it, and a relationship. Cate was the character whom I identified with most, Hope taking me back to how I felt, how just like Cate I felt stripped of my identity, unsure where or how I would rediscover myself.
Lissa, an actress, with an inner belief that that is what she was meant to be. I admired her determination, her thick skin as rejection followed rejection, yet Hope showed us her insecurities and vulnerabilities that made her question what and where she should be. I loved the relationship between Lissa and her mother, Sarah, on the surface easy and chilled but a simmering tension and uneasiness that lingered just waiting to erupt in some way.
It was friendship that bound the three women together, their differing characteristics somehow blended and fitted neatly even if marriage, children and work meant communication was only brief and intermittent. It was as if Hope had tied them altogether with a piece of elastic, never to snap , always pulling them back together.
It was this friendship that I loved, how Hope didn’t just concentrate on the good stuff, as she wove in conflict and hurt, placed a microscope over their innermost thoughts and feelings. I admired her sheer brilliance at capturing the essence of what it means to be a woman in our modern age, of the many hats we have to wear, of the sheer expectation others and indeed ourselves place on one another. There seemed to be an inherent need to be a success, to be the perfect mother, daughter, lover, only to fall short, to be seen as a failure, somehow inept. How she wove this into her novel was simply brilliant, stunning, subtle and mesmerising.
Expectation wasn’t just about the need to make observations, and comments, it was also simply a story, a simple story that didn’t have a need for embellishments, that seamlessly interwove the history of the women’s friendship with their here and now, that gave it the context it needed to explain their actions, feelings and thoughts towards one another. Their husbands, mothers, partners, friends were the support cast, there to further complicate their once straightforward lives, who forced them to reassess their friendship, redraw the lines and find the balance that would once again allow them to be close and comfortable with one another.
No matter how many words I have written, none will do justice to what a fantastic novel Expectation was, it lived up to all the hype, expectation and more.
I would like to thank Doubleday for a copy of Expectation to read and review and to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.
About the author
ANNA HOPE studied at Oxford University and RADA. Her contemporary fiction debut, Expectation, explores themes of love, lust, motherhood, and feminism, while asking the
greater question of what defines a generation. She lives in Sussex with her husband and young daughter.