Book Review: Expectation

UK author Anna Hope’s latest novel is an evocatively written portrait of three friends who enter their mid-30s to find neither adulthood or their once-close bond has quite turned out as planned.

Friends and housemates during their twenties, Hanna, Cate and Lissa find themselves drifting into their mid-30s and drifting apart. It doesn’t take long for the snowballing failures, resentments and small betrayals that underwrite their decade-long friendship to come into focus.

Kate is isolated in her new life after an unexpected pregnancy, marriage and move to the suburbs, while professionally successful Hannah longs to have a child despite unrelenting IVF heartbreak. Actor Lissa finds herself rejuvenated by a new play, while drawn to an old friend – unfortunately, it’s complicated. None of them are quite living the lives they envisioned, and none of them are being the friend that the others need.

Actor-turned-novelist Hope fills each of the women’s lives with enviable-sounding details and heartbreaking lows; the way Hope describes various dinner parties and kitchen table conversations might make you wish for an invite. Until, of course, reality sets in.

Comparisons to zeitgeisty Irish author Sally Rooney are apt, but there’s a warmth to Hope’s writing – perhaps born of her timeline-jumping narrative largely steering clear of the friends’ university period – as she explores a millennial-friendly extension of Sylvia Plath’s fig tree: what do you do when you’ve picked the damn fruit and you’re still hungry?

Author: Anna Hope
Publisher: Doubleday

Expectation by Anna Hope

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