Expectation: Sharp, Sally Rooney-style insights into female friendship

Book review: Anna Hope’s novel looks at the intersecting lives of three friends in London

Anna Hope:  Her  background in drama makes for vibrant fictional detail. Photograph: Laura Hynd

Anna Hope: Her background in drama makes for vibrant fictional detail. Photograph: Laura Hynd

With a fitting surname for her new novel Expectation, the English author Anna Hope writes about three female friends whose aspirations, in their carefree 20s, fail to materialise in their 30s. A short summary of the book could read: shit got real. But this would not do justice to the compulsive and beautifully observed storytelling within Expectation. Writing about the liminal space between dreams and reality – and how failure affects relationships – Hope’s book is an ode to 21st century London and an examination of the pressures of modern society.

Billed as a Sally Rooney for women in their 30s, Hope is not quite as literary in her writing, but she has a similar way of delivering sharp, devastating insights in an almost nonchalant style. Dialogue is thoughtful and realistic throughout, with plenty of humour. The crucial similarity, for this reviewer at least, is in terms of character. Within a few short pages of Expectation, we come to feel as if we know the protagonists intimately and we root for them throughout the book, even as we watch them commit selfish, self-destructive acts.

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