Posted 20 hours ago

Expectation: The most razor-sharp and heartbreaking novel of the year

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Oscillating back and forth in time, we first meet the women in their mid-30s but over the course of the novel encounter them at various ages from 12 to 44. With Hannah trying to have a baby and Cate dealing with the fallout of having a baby, childless singleton Lissa is the only member of the main trio whose motivation has nothing to do with babies.

The young woman whose desire for a baby eats into her marriage and her husband who the reader can see from the start will stray because of the pressure. Mittlerweile, mit Mitte 30, leben sie alle ihr eigenes, sehr unterschiedliches Leben, ihre Lebenswege sind nur noch lose verknüpft und doch treffen sie sich regelmäßig im Café oder Theater.Hannah becomes the deputy director of an NGO, marrying Nathan, Lissa’s childhood friend, apparently the perfect couple. Moving back and forth in time, we drop in on the characters in their schooldays and university days, through their twenties and thirties, and we watch them as each of the three women come to the realisation that the lives they once imagined for themselves are not the lives they are actually living. Well, if you don't get the part, you could always do a one-woman show, Directors I Have Known and Been Rejected By. Expectation follows three friends: Hannah, Cate and Lissa, who, through flashbacks, are shown to be close friends but ten years on, when the story starts, none of the girls are where they hoped to be in life. In a nutshell: I’m not saying it’s profound or even very memorable, but it’s relatable and enjoyable, and it made me sad that I don’t have any really close girlfriends.

Hope has a good eye for character: Hannah, Cate and Lissa are all perceptively drawn with depth and care but Lissa’s mother Sarah, who castigates her daughter at one point for how little her generation have made of the advances achieved by ‘70s feminism, is particularly affectionately portrayed. Whereas Hannah and Lissa live in London, Cate has recently relocated to Canterbury, so her bits are mostly separated from the rest of the narrative and feature a completely different cast of characters, including a friendly fellow mum and a truly ghastly brother-in-law.We use Google Analytics to see what pages are most visited, and where in the world visitors are visiting from. The result is a pleasingly immersive novel which is a clear-eyed testament to the value of enduring friendship while far from romanticising it. The story of women not being able to have it all is one that has been told before but I found this to be more compelling than that. Completing the trio of friends is failing actress Lissa, whose disappointment about the way her life has turned out runs deep: “She is the sum total only of her failures. Dabei fällt das Lesen nicht immer leicht, es ist mitunter sehr schmerzhaft und auch zuweilen fast unangenehm, Hannah, Cate und Lissa auf ihren sich immer wieder kreuzenden Wegen zu begleiten.

If she does, we don't see it; after Hannah goes into labour, the book skips seven years ahead to the epilogue, and forty-something Hannah seems perfectly happy with her perfect daughter.Each of the friends’ lives are followed in narrative threads which intertwine, interspersed with snapshots from their past filling in their stories.

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