Expectation, Anna Hope
Can I draw a link between following Hotel du Lac, a story charged with expectations - if those of another era - with a book called Expectation? It is another re-read, too. I sped through Anna Hope’s story of three friends who grow up, together, and away from each other, early in the pandemic. Plus, Brookner’s protagonist Edith, and Expectation’s author, Anna, share a second name. In 2020, my brain was desperate for both focus and distraction. Would the book stand up to my changed self, three years down the line?
I do feel changed. When the pandemic was at its worst, and when it kept coming back like an irritating cough, I had the next part to look forward to. The afterwards. I didn’t feel old then, as if entering a new stage, but I do now - older, rather than old, trying to work out if there will be another stage, or if my decisions have been made, my course set.
Expectation does what every great coming of age story should; it whisks readers back to a time or space or moment when they were setting their own course, though they didn’t know it, couldn’t see it, until it is quite possibly too late. It is a wistful and romantic story of love and friendship for the twenty-first century, for everyone who can still remember the days when there was nothing to do but meet friends on London Fields with wine, cheese, good bread, and didn’t know, as they wished those days away, that soon they would be desperate they had ever come to an end.