Title: Expectation

Author: Anna Hope

Pages: 336 Pages

Publisher: Random House

The Blurb

What happened to the women we were supposed to become?

Hannah, Cate and Lissa are young, vibrant and inseparable. Living on the edge of a common in East London, their shared world is ablaze with art and activism, romance and revelry – and the promise of everything to come. They are electric. They are the best of friends.

Ten years on, they are not where they hoped to be. Amidst flailing careers and faltering marriages, each hungers for what the others have. And each wrestles with the same question: what does it take to lead a meaningful life?

The most razor-sharp and heartbreaking novel of the year, EXPECTATION is a novel about finding your way: as a mother, a daughter, a wife, a rebel.

FOR FANS OF SALLY ROONEY, DIANA EVANS, DOLLY ALDERTON, ELIZABETH DAY AND FLEABAG

The Review

I’m going to be glib and say that I didn’t know what to expect when I read Expectation by Anna Hope. I had chosen it based on the strength of how much I liked Anna Hope’s previous novel The Ballroom. I didn’t, however, expect to be as immersed in the world that she created so fervently. For me, Expectation was a one-sitting read.

The story follows the lives of three friends who, through the innocence of youth, believe that their lives will follow a certain path and trajectory. Yes, there will be pitfalls along the way but they have an end goal and they know what they want. So what happens when that doesn’t happen? Fast-forward to the summer of their lives when they are making life changing decisions and are not where they expected to be we can see the harsh reality of life paralleled with what was once youthful hope as the last vestiges of that optimism fade away. Through this, our protagonists – Hannah, Cate and Lissa – have to face their reality and also the knowledge that they aren’t necessarily the best versions of themselves anymore.

Throughout this book Margaret Mitchell’s words kept ringing in my head: “Life is under no obligation to give you what you expect.” I think that because I am of similar age (physically/emotionally) to the characters I really felt that the novel resonated with me and compelled me to read more. Anna Hope has created a relatable cast of characters with problems that are more pertinent than I realised. Besides an astonishing ability to tell a good story, Hope manages to embed you into the world she has created and makes you examine yourself.

Expectation by Anna Hope is available now.

For more information regarding Anna Hope (@Anna_Hope) please visit www.annahope.uk.

For more information regarding Random House (@randomhouse) please visit www.randomhousebooks.com.

The BallroomThe Blurb

By the acclaimed author of WAKE:

Where love is your only escape ….

1911: Inside an asylum at the edge of the Yorkshire moors,
where men and women are kept apart
by high walls and barred windows,
there is a ballroom vast and beautiful.
For one bright evening every week
they come together
and dance.
When John and Ella meet
It is a dance that will change
two lives forever.

Set over the heatwave summer of 1911, the end of the Edwardian era, THE BALLROOM is a tale of unlikely love and dangerous obsession, of madness and sanity, and of who gets to decide which is which.

The Review

I had heard so many great things about The Ballroom from other bloggers that I was determined to get my hands on a copy of the book. Fortunately, NetGalley was on hand to let me be privy to a review copy. Excitedly, I read the first chapter – eager to devour this story that I had read so many good things about.

The story of The Ballroom is a historical novel based on a mental asylum in Yorkshire. It focuses on the lives of certain inmates and doctors and the medical practices of the time. Not only does Hope deliver and interesting story, the amount of historical accuracy and research is really impressive to create a very real and very frightening picture of life in an asylum during the early 20th century. However, I found myself drifting quite easily. At 352 pages, I should have finished The Ballroom in a couple of days – a week at most if I am busy but I just couldn’t find the enthusiasm to read this book. I wasn’t hooked; I wasn’t enthralled which is a shame because the writing of The Ballroom is very good.

I really wanted to love this book. I honestly did but I felt that the pacing was too slow; the first half of the book could have been shortened. I just didn’t feel the pull to pick the book up and get lost in the world. It did not grab me. That is not to say that The Ballroom isn’t well written, it is – the characters are interesting and the story is intriguing in a horrific way. I was shocked by the historical elements regarding mental health legislation and what was suggested happen to those who suffered with mental health issues. That was truly shocking. I do believe that the story of The Ballroom is good it is just that the pacing did not work for me or manage to hold my attention.

The Ballroom by Anna Hope is available now.

3 Stars