“It is as though life has decided for her. Has picked her up and turned her round and deposited her a long, long way from home”

I had pretty high hopes for this one. As the September Beth’s Book Club pick it piqued my interest; it was certainly not along the vain of books I normally read and so I thought it would be enriching to step out of my comfort zone a little. Unfortunately, Expectation fell incredibly flat for me.

Expectation follows the various storylines of three friends whose lives haven’t quite turned out as they expected. Hannah almost has it all, but her overwhelming need for a child begins to take a toll on her marriage and indeed the rest of her life. Cate, suffering postnatal depression, feels her life is unrecognisable from the one she was leading just a year ago. Lissa is a struggling actress, turning to self-destructive behaviours in an effort to cope with her pain which in turn destroys some of the most important relationships in her life.

Whilst it was certainly a quick and easy enough read, there was very little joy to be taken from this book. I could certainly sympathise with each of the women and their struggles, but I did not warm to any of them. In fact, I haven’t read a book in a long time with such unlikeable characters, and so I really struggled to feel invested in their individual journeys.

In terms of pacing, I found the narrative only semi-engaging and I didn’t mind being away from it. I also found that the book really started to slow down towards the end; it felt like somewhat of an uphill struggle trying to finish it.

Anna Hope herself trained at one of London’s most prominent drama schools, and as an actress myself I really enjoyed reading a book that was so honest about the reality of what the acting industry is like for so many. It didn’t try to glamorise anything and was simply truthful about how cruel it can often be to drag yourself to audition after audition only to be faced with rejection, which I really appreciated. This honesty was perhaps my biggest source of enjoyment in the book and certainly validated my own experiences.

I think I struggled to enjoy this one solely because of how unkind each of the women were to each other, whilst trying to hold up the facade of friendship. It all felt incredibly fake to me, and I found I was reminded of the old saying ‘with friends like that, who needs enemies’. I was quite glad to be finished with this one and ended up rating it 2.5 stars.

Trigger warnings: infertility, IVF treatment, postnatal depression, cancer, death of a parent, abortion

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