Expectation by Anna Hope
by Anna Hope
11th July 2019 | £12.99 | Hardback
One of the most brilliant things about reading is coming across the right book at the right time and finding some kind of affinity with the characters or themes the author explores. It sounds trite to say a book can change you, but I think it can - or it can at least speak to you and affect you in some quite deep, emotional way. For me, this was the case with Expectation, Anna Hope's contemporary fiction debut.
I've read both Hope's historical fiction novels and have subsequently bought several copies for friends. They are well written with well crafted characters, show thoughtful explorations of emotive topics, all within atmospheric and evocative settings. Needless to say, I was delighted to read more from Hope, especially as Expectation is a departure from her previous books and in a modern setting.
Expectation is about Hannah, Cate and Lissa who are the very best of friends. As young women, living in London, they are energetic, excited, ambitious, hopeful and full of the 'promise of everything to come'. Ten years on and that promise has been overtaken with compromise, responsibility, obligation and disappointment. The three girls who were inseparable now envy each other, they question what it is they are doing and what has become of the dreams and desires they once followed. In this novel, Hope takes us with them on this journey from girls to women. We are immersed into their stories and quickly involved with them as they become partners, wives and mothers, as they learn to live and then learn to confront that their futures may not be the ones they talked about, or expected. The shout line 'What happened to the women we were supposed to become?' is incredibly powerful and completely captures the essence of this thought provoking yet stunning book.
This truly is a gorgeous read with prose that is beautiful, brilliant and haunting. It's unputdownable yet also worth savouring so that the words, images, thoughts and situations can be fully appreciated. It's also very accessible and readable, it will resonate with so many people for many different reasons. With three characters who are each given space to fully consider their past, present and future, it is a multi-layered novel. Every reader will see different things or find different lines which move them. Essentially the book examines the space between expectation and reality, as well as how to find your way and what it means to be a mother, daughter, wife and friend.
Hope's writing is insightful and full of nuance. It is brave, intelligent and very readable because it is so relatable. The three interchanging narratives from each woman's point of view is exceptionally well managed, and despite moving from character to character and through different times in their lives, it is fluent and easy to follow. The voices and experiences are distinct and the characters are full of depth and complex feelings.
It is an incredible story of friendship, motherhood, marriage and all the ups and down, the challenges, the highs and the lows which these women encounter as they navigate their way through life. It is impossible not to be affected by the emotional journey travelled by Cate, Hannah and Lissa as they learn to accept themselves, their flaws and the consequences of their choices. I have underlined numerous phrases in the book which struck me because they were so frank, poetic, or just resonated deeply. I envy Hope's skill and talent as an author.
Unforgettable. Impressive. Stunning.
Not only is this my book of the summer, it's quite possibly my book of the year! Do not miss it!
My huge thanks to Alison Barrow who sent me an advance copy. This is my honest review.