Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 15 Jul 2019

Member Reviews

⁠Hannah and Cate have known each other since school, and Hannah met Lissa when they were both at university in Manchester, while Cate successfully made it to Oxford. In their twenties, the trio shared a house, wine and long summer days on the edge of London Fields, in East London.⁠
Now in their thirties, Hannah is desperate to conceive, Cate is struggling with the demands of unexpected motherhood, and Lissa is still battling to forge a career as an actress; and all of them envy each other. ⁠
Anna Hope manages to take what could be "chick lit" and turn it into literary fiction covering themes of identity, relationships, motherhood, grief, and focusing on the ordinary lives of women.  ⁠
That being said, Expectation didn't quite resonate with me in the same was as it has seemed to for other reviewers. I never quite connected with the characters and found the twists of the plot to be predictable.  However, I did really like Hope's writing and would certainly read another book by her in the future.  ⁠
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Hannah, Cate and Lissa are three young friends in their twenties. Hannah and Cate have known each other since school, and Hannah met Lissa when they were both at university in Manchester - while Cate successfully made it to Oxford.
They now live together in an elegant, crumbling, Victorian house on the edge of London Fields, in East London.

The friends' lives are full of  parties, fun, art and romance and they see themselves as activists - worrying about the future of the world. They are young and full of promise. Their lives lay open before them.

Ten years later, none of them are where they hoped to be in life.

Hannah seems to have the perfect marriage, job and lifestyle, but she is desperate to conceive a child, and IVF has not been the answer she thought it would be. Lissa's acting career has never quite taken off and is now on a downward spiral. Cate finds herself living in Kent with a husband and baby - she is exhausted and not sure if she has made the right choices.

Each of them yearns for something that one of their friends has - something they think would make their lives perfect.


I was really looking forward to reading this book, as it has had excellent reviews and there has been a lot of buzz about it.

It is interesting to think back to all the expectations you had of your own life when you were as young as Hannah, Cate and Lissa. What would your young self think about where you are now?

The young women in this story are not happy with where the find themselves ten years later. They are all trying to negotiate the twists and turns life has thrown at them: trying to work out their places in the world. This is not where they saw their lives heading.

This story is well written and full of emotion. It covers the highs and lows of friendship over the years, though I have to say there are some pretty low 'lows', and I am not sure these are all that representative of female friendships in general - at least I hope not!

Hannah is consumed with the need to become a mother and the misery of her failed IVF treatments is all too palpable. Luckily, I cannot claim to know how this feels, as I have never been through this ordeal, but I can certainly empathise with the position she finds herself in. Hannah needs her friends to be there for her, but finds it difficult to get across how she is really feeling, especially since Cate already has the baby she longs for.

Cate is struggling with marriage and motherhood. she has married quickly and is not sure whether she has made the right choice. She loves her young son, but is clearly suffering with post-natal depression. She also needs her friends, but she has been persuaded to move away from London - away from her friends. Can she really rely on them anyway - how much would they understand about the pressures of new motherhood - especially since Hannah is so desperate for a child?

Lissa seems to have grown away from both Hannah and Cate. Her life has little in common with either of her old friends. She has chosen not to become a mother herself and has struggled to find a partner she can rely on. What can they understand about her own frustrations with her 'going nowhere' career and the difficult relationship she has with her mother?

I enjoyed reading this book and certainly had no trouble racing through the pages, but I confess that I am a bit disappointed with it. I think the main problem was that I did not really care for Hannah, Cate or Lissa.

Sadly, they come across as three young women who have not been able to live up to the expectations they have placed on themselves - rather than those placed on them by society. This makes them come across as rather selfish women who are miserable because they cannot have it all. Their friendship does not seem to be helping them through the rough patches, and they seem to be jealous of each other instead.

This is a shame, because Hannah and Cate at least have genuine reasons to be be finding their lives difficult. Sadly, Lissa just seems miserable because she has not made it as an actress - as far as I am concerned this does not give her licence to want her friend's husband (whether or not she knew them first).

 They spend so much time focusing on what they don't have, that they can't seem to appreciate what they actually do have and everyone around them is a casualty to their misery. This impression rather spoilt the book for me.

The ending was also a little silly. Happy families picnic time was probably a little premature after the short length of time that elapsed since a major falling out between the friends, I thought.

From reading other reviews, I can see that this book has made a big impression on a lot of readers, but it simply did not do it for me. I think I am a little old to be the target audience here, and maybe that was the problem.  It would be interesting to discuss the issues thrown up by this book with someone who has a younger perspective. Perhaps I will get my daughter to read it sometime and see what she thinks?
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# Expectation # Netgalley 
Brilliant Brilliant Brilliant,  it’s a tale of two women who being the best of friends have high expectations of the future. When they do not teach those expectations they question why. Although they may not beware to start with what they are really dining is questioning the meaning of life. As they look back in the past and to the future it’s not how the expected things to turn out. It’s a funny and heartbreaking novel. This is one of those you can really relate to yourself. 
I can not disagree when someone said it’s the most talked about book in years. Just realising a women’s role in life. With a different view on mother’s, siblings, daughters. Can not express how much I think every women, also men should read this book. It’s definitely a big eye opener for women and men.
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Cate, Hannah and Lissa are all friends from childhood and university. Expectation tells the story of them ten years later when they're all at different points in their life. However none of them are where they hoped to be.

I loved the commentary on life and friendship, showing that life might not always turn out the way you expected. Life is affected by bereavement, infertility, failing careers, moving house and friendships dynamics change along the way.
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If there’s one thing I can say about this novel, it’s that it is beautifully, extraordinarily normal. A novel that takes the most ordinary circumstances in life – university life, failed romances, infertility – and creates a story that’s heartfelt and captivating. A novel this ordinary doesn’t normally interest me. I like the fantastical and magical. But, despite having not been through much of these issues, I couldn’t help but feel for these characters. To understand them and connect with them throughout. It was this connection with the characters that kept me reading.

What I loved most about this novel was the honesty. Cate is an overwhelmed mother, her story is full of the dark side of motherhood we aren’t supposed to talk about. Hannah is struggling to get pregnant and the rawness of her emotion is clearly displayed. Lissa is a struggling actress, her life nothing like she had expected. In fact, none of their lives are as expected and Hope perfectly demonstrates the array of emotions that come with the realisation that you aren’t where you wanted to be.

You can read my full review here on my blog - link attached.
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I found Expectation very affecting. On the surface it’s a story of friendship over the decades. We meet Cate, Lissa and Hannah sharing an east London flat after graduation, flashing back to their meetings at school and university, and forward as they stumble into and out of relationships, achieve success in work, or fail to, push forward and tread water, start families or fall apart trying. All the time wishing they had what the others have. 

More than that though, it brings into focus how time passes whether you like it or not, and that we all fail to achieve all those things we were told we could. Lissa takes her activist mother back to Greenham Common and we wonder what they were fighting for. Did they fail too?

The prose is sparse and unshowy, the women’s characters aren’t quite within our grasp. We know what makes them tick only as much as we know ourselves (spoiler: not a lot). We feel their shame, their ambition, their envy, their greed, their helplessness, their hope beyond expectation. The final pages left little raw patch on my soul.
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Very modern book which I really enjoyed. Loved seeing how the girls lives changed over the years and how each one had different experiences.
A really well written book which will definitely be successful.
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Gorgeous, brilliant book that seems to perfectly encapsulate the ever-changing dynamics of female friendship and identity as we move through our early 20s and beyond. Gorgeously written, I raced through this. Highly recommend.
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Expectation follows three female friends in their thirties. Their friendship is one that began years ago, and we follow each of them in adulthood with their dreams either not having materialised, or not being what they expected them to be. It covers many of the highs and lows, and difficulties and complexities, of being a woman in your thirties; fertility, motherhood, relationships, career, caring for an older relative, loneliness. Above all, it looks at the pressure women have placed on them, and place upon themselves, to achieve in one way or another, and the feelings we may have when the outcome does not match our expectations.

Thank you to the publishers and NetGalley for the opportunity to read this novel in exchange for my honest opinion.
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Anna Hope has written three novels each of which has intrigued and mesmerised me, albeit in very different ways. Expectation is a departure (a very successful one) from the early 20th century setting of her previous two books, and it tells the story of three women, friends from school and university who face the trials and tribulations of love, work, marriage and motherhood in different ways. Free-spirited Lissa carries on enjoying the single, party-going lifestyle she enjoyed with her friends well into her 30s, while Hannah longs to settle down and start her family with her long-term partner and Cate finds herself struggling to cope with the fast trajectory her life has taken.

You might be thinking this sounds like classic chick-lit but you’d be very wrong. Hope’s writing is astute, observant and incredibly insightful when it comes to describing the nuances of these women’s relationship (three is always a bit of an awkward number, which only adds to the tension). I’m approaching a significant birthday this year and I’m going to be spending part of it with a small group of friends who have been with me through thick and thin over the years, which made this book, with its descriptions of the power of friendship but also the potentially destructive and hurtful nature of close relationships, especially poignant for me. This quote in particular struck a chord “They look at each other, these women, as the girls talk, noticing the ways in which they have aged. They are not the same women as they were.”

I can’t wait to see what Anna Hope comes up with next.
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Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for this ARC.

I absolutely loved this book. It describes the complexity of female friendship perfectly with well-drawn and realistic characters. It plays with the idea of expectation, of what the three women expect for themselves and what is expected of them from society, from their families, from other women. Particularly the theme of having children and the tension around whether it is a biological necessity or a choice, and what the 'right' choice is. 

Hope writes with the understanding of someone who has had close female friendships, with all their ups and downs and fights and joys, and this flows through the pages. Hannah, Lissa and Cate are all thoroughly believable characters and I think most women will recognise a bit of themselves in one or more of them. I laughed and cried and most of all, identified.
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A truly beautiful book about so many things. Love, friendship, life, pain, joy and so much more. I cried reading this book and it will be one I buy and read again and again over the years. I just know each read will bring a different experience. Truly, truly beautiful.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publishers for the ARC in return for an honest and unbiased opinion. And thank you to Anna Hope for one of the most beautiful books I’ve read.
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Three women, Hannah, Cate and Lissa, discover life doesn’t always provide what you expect.

Having adored The Ballroom by Anna Hope I was expecting fabulous writing and an emotional read, but this time the author has exceeded everything I wanted to produce a soaring, searing, portrait of love, loss, betrayal and friendship in Expectation. Reading Expectation has felt like a physical process. My heart feels bruised and my chest tight because every word and every moment in this superb book is imbued with depth and intensity. It is, quite simply, wonderful. The way Anna Hope writes, with such exquisite attention to detail, is an absolute joy to read. So often I was reminded of Thomas Hardy’s ability to create nature in her descriptions.

It’s going to be almost impossible to convey the way I feel about Expectation. I thought the plot was fabulous. I loved the peeling back of layers of time and personality so that I felt I was part of the narrative, coming to an understanding about life at much the same time as the characters. That said, the more I reflect on the book after finishing it, the more it seems to offer. I will be thinking about Expectation for a very long time.

I loved and hated each of the three women in turn, vascillating between the two, much as they do themselves. Hannah, Cate and Lissa are vibrant, alive and flawed. Their relationships with one another, their parents and their lovers are beautifully presented by Anna Hope, but more important is the way in which she explores their relationships with themselves. Expectation is a superb observation of how we often know ourselves even less than we know others so that it gave me so much more than perfect entertainment as I read. Expectation made me examine who I am, what I want and how others might be affected by me. It sounds like hyperbole, but I truly think reading Expectation is a life altering experience. Somehow I feel fractured by reading Expectation, but then repaired to be greater than I was before. It has been an almost physical experience because of the profound emotions so skilfully conveyed. The potency of Anna Hope’s portrayal of humanity is astounding.

In case you hadn’t realised, I absolutely adored Expectation. It is, without doubt, one of my books of the year. Anna Hope has an outstanding talent to carry the reader along with her narrative and characters until they are completely entranced. I was mesmerised.
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I loved this book! It's so beautifully written and every word of it rings true. The characters are flawed but lovable and I believed so much in their lives and issues. I'm off to buy everything else Anna Hope has written.
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This book really blew me away- it's a deep dive into the often fraught and tumultuous nature of female friendships and the dynamics between women in times of loss, grief and happiness. 

The book follows around a decade of the lives of long term friends Lissa, Hannah and Cate. Having lived together in their twenties, they are all now living apart and struggling with a variety of different issues in their lives. I felt the sketching out of these characters was so tangible and realistic, and the flawed nature of the women made the story something really special. It did have an air of Dolly Alderton's Everything I Know About Love, (which I assume inspired Hannah's trip to Orkney), but as it was from the point of view of all three women, it was easier to understand the motivations that drove them to do things or say things that often harmed their friendships. 

The book left me with a real sense of peace- I thought the portrayal of death, grief and mourning in the book was so delicately handled, (I won't elaborate, as obvious spoilers) and gave this title a depth that I haven't felt before in some of the other similar titles about female friends. I feel as if it may be a book I'll come back to in ten years and will give me a totally different read.
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It's been a VERY long time since I've been floored by a novel the way that Expectation floored me.

This is a beautiful, devastating, deeply moving exploration of, well, life, essentially. Particularly the sort of life that doesn't match the sort of life you imagined you'd be living by the time you're in your forties. Because life gets in the way of living, doesn't it: All those disappointments, insignificant and not so; bereavement; career woes; lost friendships, lost loves. Hope gets to the heart of all of it with shimmering prose and deeply evocative writing, rendering the small tragedies - and joys - of lives lived into poetry.

Anna Hope's previous novels have been beautiful period pieces - Expectation is starkly modern in comparison, and demonstrates just how versatile an author she is. One who is fast becoming one of my favourites, in fact. There are shades of Maggie O'Farrell and Emma Donaghue here, but Hope's voice is undeniably her own. And it's one I'm so excited to hear more from in the future.

My thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for the ARC in exchange for an unbiased review.
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I really enjoyed this book. My sympathies shifted seamlessly between the characters as their stories unfolded and overlapped and the time shifts were used to great effect. Anna Hope brings people and places to life beautifully.
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I devoured this book in one glorious all-consuming sitting – and when it finished, I allowed myself to cry. The emotional impact of this book is immense, the way you become enmeshed and immersed in the story unusual in its intensity – and the writing is absolutely exquisite. It looks at friendship, at life’s twists and turns and the way they often disappoint and fail to live up to their promise, at betrayal and its impacts – and explores the emotional responses of its characters with a depth and absolute truth that’s enthralling to experience.

The book’s construction is unusual. I was on the verge of saying “challenging”, but it really isn’t – despite the fact that the story is told from the perspectives of its three main characters and dips, in a way that seems almost random, into other events in earlier timeframes that shaped them and provide insight into their relationships with each other. And it’s wrong of me to call the three women at the heart of this story “characters”, because they’re so much more than that – these are women you know, presenting you with truths that are familiar, evoking feelings and memories half forgotten and too often ignored. I’ve always wondered about “luminous prose”, not sure of its meaning – but for this book, I can’t think of a better description.

But no book can be a success on feelings alone – there’s a compelling narrative too. On the surface, it’s the story of three women – Hannah, Cate and Lisa – their friendship, their hopes and expectations, their relationships, the obstacles life throws (sometimes of their own making), their choices right and wrong, the futures they imagine and the realities they encounter. Beneath the surface, there’s so much more – the feminist themes, the desire for and reality of motherhood, the passion and the disappointment, the complexity of their feelings towards each other, the elusiveness of their dreams.

There are times when I doubt my ability to write a review that captures my feelings when I encounter a book this wonderful – I’ve done my best, but above all I’d urge everyone to read it. Totally unforgettable, absolutely stunning – and, without question, one of my books of the year.
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I knew from the opening quote that it was going to be special. As the first chapter unfolded I had that book tingle, you know the one I mean, when you know that this book in your hand is going to be incredible. Expectation gave me all the tingles!

What surprised me was how much this book made me think about my life. After reading it I reflected upon friendships past, the friendships I hold dear to me, my rocks, all the amazing women constantly by my side whom I am lucky enough to call friends and my mother and grandmother who forged the way for me to think, learn, and be whomever I wished to be.

Expectation is a love song to women, to the friendships we have, relationships we build, the people we are and the children we raise. It's about those late night panics over not living your life to it's full potential, the fears that your children won't be well rounded human beings and the fear that while you lay around in your twenties, time slowly ebbing away in a haze of parties, drinking and living, your thirties quickly come along and you wake up one morning and think "what the fuck have I been doing, where has my life gone?"

The story follows three friends - Lissa, Hannah and Cate, all of whom are at pivotal points in their lives. Each chapter begins with a flashback to a particular point in the friendship groups lives, whether that be a wedding, an english lesson in high school or an afternoon spent in their shared house. The remainder of the chapter being from the perspective of each of the girls, addressing the here and now.

Cate, is a new mother, trying to juggle the postnatal fog with some semblance of normality, Hannah desperate for a baby, is undergoing another round of IVF, her relationship with her husband already strained and Lissa, an actress who is barely making enough to pay her rent each month. This book is full of life, love, happiness, heartbreak and sadness, there is no murder, no big revelation, no twist, it's simply a beautifully woven story of strong, independent women who are trying to make sense of the expectation that they have upon themselves and those which others have thrust upon them.

I have heard the term heart-wrenching banded around before when describing a book and have rarely felt that is justified, however Anna Hope's depiction of Hannah's struggle to conceive is utterly heartbreaking. I could feel every ounce of her pain while reading her journey, it was stifling and comsuming. Once again Lissa's journey with her mother, Sarah (who I really enjoyed reading about), realising that their relationship wasn't as she perceived and how the role of mother and daughter was reversed in the latter chapters, was poignant and handled sensitively.

What I loved about the writing was that it was real. Hannah, Cate and Lissa had flaws and made mistakes, not for the purpose of a storyline or aspect of plot, but because in real life, people are fluid, imperfect and at the mercy of others around them. I could relate to Hannah's feelings of going back home to her parents in Manchester, her feeling shame for belittling their lives, their choices. I found myself thrown back into my own postnatal fog when reading Cate's story, her feelings following her first child, feeling bone tired, confused, and that no one is on your side.

There was so much that I took from this book; Anna Hope deftly weaves feminism, fertility, the question of having children, infidelity and activism into the threads without the narrative feeling clunky or confused. It works seamlessly, thus creating the rich characters with whom I fell very much in love with.

I read Expectation in two days and I loved it, everything about this book spoke to my soul. It's absolutely stunning; a powerful, raw and honest depiction of friendship. I really didnt want to say goodbye to this one, I don't often reread but I know that this is one that I am going to return to. It's in my top five reads of 2019 and I cannot recommend it highly enough.
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On the premise of the book I requested Expectation. I started it with great ... expectation. However, apart from  the start when the friends were young, I found the three were stereotypes and therefore held no surprises.With some many books competing for my attention, I'm afraid I abandoned the story in favour for one that kept my interest.
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