About the book
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.
Yet 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? What happened to the women we were supposed to become?
This review contains no spoilers.
My review of Expectation by Anna Hope
This is a novel that explores the highs and lows of friendship, with all the laughter, joy, awkwardness, jealousy, bitterness and tension that it offers. It is very realistic.
The book follows three characters: Cate, Hannah and Lissa, and the novel opens with the trio living together in a house in London Fields in 2004.
“Life is still malleable and full of potential. The openings to the roads not taken have not yet sealed up. They still have time to become who they are going to be.”
Fast forward to 2010 and things are very different.
Cate has recently moved to Cambridge and is drowning in her role as a new mother. Sleep-deprived and struggling under the expectation of maternal duties, she is drifting away from her partner, Sam. “This is the pattern of their evenings. A little passive-aggressive banter and then separate computers on separate chairs.”
Hannah has a high-powered job as a deputy director of a charity and is married to Nathan, a university lecturer. The couple have been trying and failing to conceive through IVF treatment and it is putting a strain on their relationship.
Lissa is a failing actress who resents the way her body is scrutinised by men in her auditions and the way she is criticised by directors. Even her own mother says: “You’ve had everything. The fruits of our labour. The fruits of our activism…. And what have you done with it?”
This question permeates the novel, and I hope I am not alone when I contemplate how hard my parents have worked for me to have a good education and a bright future and feeling as if I am not living up to my full potential. It is very realistic in the way that it lays bare the hard fact of life that things do not turn out how you expect them to. That those expectations of life that you have during the halcyon days of your youth do not materialise just because you expect them to. It is cruel reality check.
Lissa is the beautiful one, Cate is the mother and Hannah is the one with the career. These are the three ideals that society believes that the ‘perfect woman’ should possess. Yet each woman only upholds one ideal and finds themselves lacking in the other areas. They each covet what the others have.
The book explores themes of jealousy, loneliness and disappointment. I identified with each of the characters, and I think Anna Hope skillfully captures these feelings that young adults have at such a liminal time in their lives.
“You must keep hold of your friendships, Lissa. The women. They’re the only thing that will save you in the end.”
I also liked that the last chapter started the same way as the first chapter. The conditions may be the same, but the three women are not. However, there is hope and there is still friendship there, despite what they have been through.
If you like books that are packed with action and events then you may be disappointed with this novel simply because not much happens. It is more an exploration of relationships and real life which propels the story. It is a slow burner and the climax event is something that you can see coming from a mile off.
I would personally give it 2 and a half stars out of five because I felt that not enough happened and there was nothing pulling me through it. I could put it down. I also do not enjoy books where the dialogue between the characters is permeated by passive aggressiveness, I find it so draining. Overall, my expectation in Expectation was rather unfulfilled.
This is a new venture on my blog as I have rediscovered my love for reading! If you have any book recommendations for me then please leave me a comment.