In this novel, as in reality, life does not always turn out as we expect. Covering much of the lives of three women, Lissa, Hannah and Cate, the challenges they face and their highs and lows, this beautifully descriptive and powerful novel looks at the lives that women lead. Focusing on different times in the lives of the women, it explores the relationships between them, their families and friends, how unexpected emotions and actions can upset and change lives. There is also a fine sense of place, as houses or flats can confine or allow a feeling of peace. There are contrasts, as the various characters discover the truth of their lives and the changes in their lives. As each of the three women are depicted as overlapping, apart and together, this novel also includes details of those that they love as parents, siblings and friends ease in and out of their lives. Including fascinating insights into the lives of actors, the difficulties of infertility and the life of a parent who influenced the women, there is much to interest, involve and entertain in this sympathetic and mature novel. I was really pleased to have the opportunity to read and review this timely and truthful novel.
The book opens with a description of the idyllic Saturdays spent by the three young women in a spacious,”shabby, friendly house” next to a park. As they buy food from the market, wine which they share in the park, the three women form a tight group.Their lives in 2004 at the age of twenty – nine involves the general worries of life and the world, but at that stage they feel strong and able to drink, smoke and take risks. In contrast the next section, in 2010, looks at Hannah facing the process of IVF with all its hope and realities. Her husband, Nathan is supportive but also tired of the desperation. Lissa turns up to support, but her single lifestyle as an aspiring actor is difficult and means that she has different priorities. Cate is shown as living in Kent, struggling to cope with her baby son Tom, as her husband Sam works difficult hours in a restaurant. While she is lonely and sleep deprived, she feels overwhelmed by her husband’s family and longs for past freedoms, and past unconventional loves. The scene reverts to 1995, as Lissa and and Hannah are at Oxford, very different women but also linked in many ways. Cate is shown in 2008 -9 , dating a variety of men unsuccessfully, linking up with Lissa and Hannah. As the book progresses, the time frames changes, the relationships become brittle and tested. The concept of expectation develops and changes, as life, death and everything in between is experienced and deeply felt.
This is a book which is so easy to read, and indeed demands that the reader continues if only to find out what happens to the three, vividly drawn women. This book has so much to say about what women want and need in contemporary Britain, but also the resulting pressure on men. I found it a genuinely fascinating book about the expectations of motherhood, and how things are rarely as they simple they seen. There are passages of almost lyrical beauty in this book, as well as the grinding reality of life. This is a book of relationships, individual lives, and life in the recent past as well as today. I recommend this as an absorbing read.