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Expectation by Anna Hope - Review

Monday, September 28, 2020


This book was my book club choice for September. We did The Ballroom by Anna Hope several years ago and I loved it, and I really liked Wake by her when I read that last year too. So when I saw this was coming out too, I chose it for my choice this year. I started to read it towards the end of August. I had a long journey on the Thursday before the bank holiday, and was able to read a lot of this then as I was sitting in the back of the car. It reminded me of being young and reading all the time in the car when we were going somewhere. 

I posted a photo of the front cover of this book on my instagram, like I do with all books I read, and my friend Kathryn commented to say that she thought the story was nothing new but that the warmth for the characters was really good. And that's very much how I felt about it too. The story is one I feel like I've read a hundred times before, but I liked it and wanted to keep reading.

So basically it's about three women who are, in 2010 when the majority of the book is set, around 35/36 years old. The first is Hannah, who works for a charity and who owns a fab flat in London with her husband Nathan, a professor. She and Nathan have been unable to conceive a baby so Hannah is on her third round of IVF and feels quite desperate about wanting a baby. I liked Hannah and felt a lot of sympathy for her situation. 

The second of the women is Lissa, an actor. She has never quite made it big as an actor, and had a missed opportunity that she's sure would have been her big break. She lives alone in the basement flat of a house that all three women used to live in. She had a boyfriend years ago, a fellow actor called Declan, but hasn't had another relationship in quite a while. She was brought up by an eccentric artist mother who she finds difficult to deal with. 

Finally is Cate. She has just moved to Canterbury with her husband Sam and baby, Tom. She and Sam had a bit of a whirlwind relationship and ended up married with Tom on the way very quickly. Cate is suffering from some kind of post natal depression, and feels like she doesn't really know her husband. His overbearing family live in Canterbury and Cate feels smothered by them (and they annoyed me!). She meets Dea, a woman who also has a small child, and the two become friends.

Hannah and Cate were childhood friends, although they came from very different families. Hannah met Lissa at university in London and Cate was somewhat jealous about this. There are little parts of this past interspersed within the book. 

I liked all three women and felt sympathy for all of the paths that they'd each ended up on and the ways that these paths had not lived up to their expectations. However, I didn't feel like this was a revolutionary novel in any way. Hannah is from a working class family and I felt there was some snobbery around this. She owns a flat in London but there's no explanation as to HOW - she must be really rich for that to happen? Cate is kind of a snob and I didn't get why she hated Sam so much - he seemed like a decent guy with a strong work ethic. I liked Lissa the best, but her family background seemed quite cliched to me.

But, I am giving this four out of five as I did like it and found it compelling enough. I will still read anything else by Anna Hope, but I feel this is the weakest of her novels so far. 

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