Last week saw the publication of Expectation, the latest novel by Anna Hope. This is Hope’s third novel, and her first work of contemporary fiction having previously written historical novels Wake and The Ballroom, the latter of which I have read and enjoyed. With this in mind and alongside the heaps of praise I have seen for this book across social media, it was a book that was pushed straight to the top of my TBR!
‘They still have time to become who they are going to be.’
One thing that I often think about, more so since turning 30, is the expectation that is present amongst society, and the pressure to live a certain way, or to achieve certain milestones in our lives. This is something that is explored throughout this story, in which we are introduced to Hannah, Cate and Lissa, three friends who are inseparable and living a vibrant life together, with so much of it still to come. However, as years go by, and things are changing, the relationships between these three women become strained, as they each establish what they most crave in life, whilst ruing the lost moments and missed opportunities of their shared past. The narrative alternates between the perspectives of each of the women, and there are also flashbacks to previous years, which gives the reader a valuable glimpse into the formative years of their friendship, and the connections that were made and lost which have such a strong impact on them today.
I found Expectation to be immensely readable, and it was a story that I got into really quick due to the characters that felt relatable and authentic. It was a story that captured my attention, and I was interested to see how events would unfold, and whether life for Hannah, Cate and Lissa will turn out as they hope, in the face of adversity. It deals with numerous issues concerning love and loss and friendship, as it explores the ups and downs of this particular friendship group. Their story is well written, as we learn what each of these women wants most in life, including the aspects of each other’s lives which they want the most, which results in some tension between them. Over the course of this book, Anna Hope has represented womanhood through the stories of these three friends, and the societal pressures they face to conform to a certain lifestyle, and there is a lot of soul searching to be done as they each assess their own lives, who they have become and who they have left behind. This deals with issues concerning love and marriage, motherhood and fertility, and career success. What makes their story so compelling is how familiar it feels, and how the reader can relate to the challenges that these characters face, as we are all navigating through life, and trying to find out what life means to each us.
Expectation is an enjoyable read, and one I think will have a broad appeal given its relatable characters and subject matter, as it explores the bond between three women through the years, as we get a sense of the space between their expectation and reality.