I admit it, I am way behind in terms of cracking reads. Expectation by Anna Hope was published by Doubleday UK on the 11th of July 2019 – it’s now the 22nd of November and I’ve read the reviews, heard the raving and only now picked it up; it took me 24 hours to read because I just couldn’t put this coming of age feminist read down! Expectation is one of the best books that I’ve read this year, it put so many things into perspective for me and I have been telling everyone who will listen, to read it!
You can dash over to grab your own hardback copy here. Check out the blurb:
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.
The words for this review came difficultly, I’ve been a blogger, staring at an empty screen hoping the words would come so I can adequately describe how stunningly written and utterly compelling this novel is, as well as how much I absolutely adored every single word of every single page.
The novel begins with introducing us to a trio of female friends in 2004, being in the last year of their twenties, they are living a free-spirited life in London, watching people rushing busily around as then drink wine and bask in the sunshine, the only thing they need is their togetherness – that is their life. Fast forward a number of years, they are all in very different places in their lives, personally and relationship wise. The trio have become a pawn in the complexity of life, we see through a multiple person narrative, from Cate, Hannah and Lissa. Each main chapter has a section from each of our female protagonists, some may feel that this could be confusing, I’m telling you now readers it is not! Anna Hope has woven a great character and plot driven novel, that gives each of the three main characters their own voice and personality – I could even hear their voices in my head, being able to identify with each one for a multitude of reasons. The main concept of Expectation is how over time friendships change, people’s priorities change, especially women, who have become to be expected to fulfil certain roles within society. For example, being the perfect mother, wife, daughter and friend, the expectation to hold a family together where you could be labelled as ‘selfish’ if this isn’t the path you want to wander down. How about the stress, if the cards you’ve been dealt doesn’t give you a great hand? Where are you in the complex pecking order of life? If you can’t fall into the stereotypes, are you even seen as a woman in a patriarchal world? No matter where Cate, Hannah and Lissa are in their life, each one craves what the other one has, with a building pressure that not only affects the friendships, but also the women’s mental health.
One huge thing that I personally took away from reading Expectation is that although it’s horrible when a close friendship begins to disintegrate, a majority of the time it’s nobodies fault – friendships change over time based on the emotional need / life stages of all parties in the friendship. Some of us get lucky, we’ll meet people who we will experience every single life stage with, I am so glad to have a friend like that, but the friends that come and stay while we need them are just as treasured. We all need to be less blaming on ourselves.
I found Expectation to be breathtakingly exceptional read, that compellingly analyses female friendships under a microscope, unravelling the expectations we all derive from them and how they aren’t always what we need / want. You can’t help but fall in love with the characters, sympathise with them and just connect with them on a variety of different levels. I absolutely loved it, highly of highest recommend it and you should 100% read it!