Cover Image: Olive

Olive

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Member Reviews

Olive is relatable and engaging. What's lovely about this book is we are Olive, in some manner we have all or will go through the things she does and this is why the it's is so well  written by Emma Gannon and lovely to read.
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I’d already read Emma Gannon’s The Multi-Hyphen Method, and followed her work from the early days of the “Girl Lost in City” blog, so I was interested to see what her first novel, Olive, would be like. The story is told from the perspective of Olive, a millennial journalist living in London whose life is at crossroads. As her university friends settle down and start to have families, she realizes she’s “different”: she’s pretty sure she doesn’t want to have children. As their lives take different paths, tensions take hold, and Olive wonders what it is she really wants in life.

I really enjoyed this book for a number of reasons. One is that it felt really contemporary – it felt like life being lived right now (well, minus the lockdown, but you know what I mean!), with the characters sending WhatsApp group texts, going on Netflix binges, and mindlessly scrolling through social media. The second is that it examines an issue that is still quite taboo for a lot of people: the decision not to have children. And the third is that it was an excellent portrayal of female friendship, with all its up and downs, and the strength that the women in the book get from those friendships despite the pressures of their lives going in different directions. I'd definitely recommend this to anyone who enjoys contemporary fiction, with a focus on female friendship.
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I cannot believe this is a debut novel. This has been a great read and I have absolutely loved it. 
I have devoured this book in just hours this afternoon. I highly recommend this book.
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Childfree Olive is adrift in a sea of her best friends – and a society – obsessed with motherhood. As she turned into a thirty-something, the questions only became more insistent – talk of shrivelling up eggs and the perils of geriatric motherhood. Olive has never wanted children, and she’s not going to ‘change her mind.’ But she finds it increasingly difficult to navigate this decision and reconcile it with society’s expectations of womanhood and the life choices of her own best friends.

‘When I am an adult, I would think, everything will be good. I will finally be free. Adulthood = freedom.’

It is the tight-knit bonds of friendship, rather than romance, that are at the heart of the book. Emma Gannon explores the exuberance of female friendship, with flashbacks to their heady university days and teenagerhood, contrasted with their early thirties and how their life paths have diverged. Their sacred rituals – dinner at the same London restaurant every month, a holiday abroad each year – are slowly slipping away from them.

‘Everyone has just seemed slightly less available, a creeping sense of business and life admin and to-do lists, of time being squeezed.’

Despite the sometimes heavy subject matter, Olive is an easy and accessible read, with levity, humour, and self-awareness.

‘I’ve decided to go and see a Reiki healer because I am a Millennial cliché with a free afternoon.’

Although plot elements are at times predictable and a little hackneyed, the strength of the novel lies in portraying nuanced protagonists who each have their own struggles when it comes to motherhood – be that infertility, post-natal depression, juggling three children or having no desire to have kids – and explores these choices in an open and honest way. Gannon draws sympathetic characters and lets us into their heads. It’s a perspective I’ve not read about before in such a clear-eyed way, and I think this will resonate with many women at a similar crossroads in their life.
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I really struggled with this novel, Emma Gannon’s fiction debut. Olive is a successful 30 something with a job she loves and great group of friends, but her long term relationship has just ended- because Olive is starting to realise she just doesn’t want a family. With one best friend a mum of 3, one about to pop and one going through heartbreaking fertility treatment, she is finding it hard to confide in anyone about her secret feelings. 
My main issue with this novel was that I really didn’t like any of the characters. Olive’s friends came across as selfish and unsupportive, and for long term best friends, they don’t actually seem to like each other very much. As for Olive herself, I didn’t think she had much of a personality and I just wasn’t that invested in her story. 
It’s a shame because I think it’s such an interesting concept for a novel, but I wasn’t convinced by the end result.
Thanks to Netgalley and Harper Collins for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review
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Olive was an amazing novel. I loved every word, and I found it so beautifully relatable. Olive is our main character and she does not want children. Nada. Never. Surrounded by her friends, one heavily pregnant, one with a large family and one struggling to conceive, it's only natural that she would feel like an outcast, even within a group of her closest friends. It's so hard to find characters, especially women, in literature that portray such a strong childfree message. Reading Olive's struggles to understand herself and believe that nothing is wrong with her is so empowering, especially accompanied by her attempts to understand her friends and the people around her, and why they feel the way they do. This is also ultimately a story about the power of friendship, and how even if people's lives may differ, there is so much that holds us together. A truly great feminist girl power friendship read!
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I devoured this warm hug of a book over one weekend. It's a light read yet nuanced too - sensitively exploring a woman's decision to be child-free.

We meet Olive in her early 30s as she's lacking the maternal urges she presumed she'd have by this age, feeling that actually - maybe she doesn't want children. Through flitting between the past and present we get to know her and her group of friends, seeing their lives change through the decisions they make and how this impacts their relationships.

I think so many women will see themselves in this book. I could definitely connect to that feeling of being "behind" and separate - the description of Olive being with a group of mothers feeling outside their bond and with nothing to contribute to the conversation is so perfect. We don't see characters like Olive in books or media and it's a breath of fresh air to have her here - it will mean a lot to many I'm sure.

Olive's is not the only perspective to relate to though - each of her friends have a different relationship to motherhood and family - with one friend struggling to conceive through IVF, another with older children but a struggling marriage and a new mother navigating pregnancy and then life with a baby. Empathy is cultivated for each character, poignantly highlighting the struggles that aren't always seen or understood and yet how easy it is to be jealous without knowing this. While the friendships are strong it doesn't shy away from showing how maintaining connection through such huge life changes can be challenging, and the ways we can miss each other when communicating. I loved how this friendship group feel like the heart of the novel too, over any romantic narratives.

It was interesting to read this straight after Cho Nam-Joo's Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982 which depicts a typical Korean woman's life and the resentment and mental distress that can build from a lifetime of small and large oppressions and misogyny. In Olive, instead, we see a lighter and more optimistic take: what's possible when a woman strays from the well-trodden path laid by centuries of women before her. While there is struggle and sacrifice in getting there, through Olive we ultimately see the relief, freedom and feeling of content that can come from letting yourself choose the life you want.
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I picked up this novel because I wanted something quite light as a distraction from current (apocalyptic) events and while all the classic elements of a romantic comedy were there, Gannon’s book actually covers some quite powerful and thought-provoking topics around personal choices on motherhood and friendship. So while I didn’t quite get the escape that I wanted, at least I could be distracted by other people’s worries, and with a well-written and gripping novel. There are a few clunky bits, however, like an “as you know” (a very literal example of the old “as you know, Bob” syndrome) being said to friends in the afterword, giving the reader information that we know the friends already know in an inelegant way. This wasn’t enough to ruin my enjoyment of the book, but it did take my attention away slightly.
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Olive ⭐⭐⭐⭐/5

An absolutely charming contemporary read. 

This book touches on the subjects of friendship, loss, fertility, marriage and the pressures as women that society can enforce. 

Olive is a 33 year old female with a great job, she knows her own mind and knows that she does not and will not want children. This is the cause of her recent break up from her longtime boyfriend. Not having the maternal urge is something others in her life are finding hard to grasp. Bea, Isla and Cec are Olive's closest and longest friends. All battling with their own troubles and turmoil. 

Emma Gannon does a fantastic job with the character of Olive. I've never seen a character like Olive before within a book. It was a breath of fresh air. No cliches here. 

Motherhood is such a complex subject to approach. With many people having very strong views. Emma Gannon does a remarkable job to tackle it, looking at every aspect of the argument. Why should a woman feel guilt for not wanting a child? But why should a woman for guilt for longing for a child? 

A character driven tale about reaching the crossroads in your life 💕
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Olive is charming. Telling the tale of the titular Olive, it promises to explore what happens when a woman in her thirties decides to go against the societal norm of settling down and, importantly, having children. What does it mean, she wonders, to seek an alternate way of living?

Hearing reviews likening it to the work of Marian Keyes, I expected a novel of warmth, humour, and charm, while puzzling questions of our time. What I wasn’t expecting was such a vivid and varied depiction of womanhood. 
Gannon depicts female friendship with warmth, and intimacy, revealing the grey-areas and the complexities of choosing a life on a different path to that of your friends. In depicting what it might mean to not want children, Emma Gannon also vividly depicts what it’s like to choose the more accepted path of motherhood – this is a ‘default’ option which is no easier for women. 

Thoroughly recommended!
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Brb, now going to recommend this to all my gal pals! 📖 

Olive lives in London and is a successful writer, and dealing with the heartache of splitting up with her long term boyfriend as he wanted to start a family but she doesn't. Olive's friends are announcing pregnancies, her insta feed is full of "I said yes!" pics and she's asked at every party if she's next. Her best friends are on different paths, but she must figure out her own and if she was right to the end her relationship. 

Motherhood, marriage, family, pregnancy.. are different for each person and that's what this book does a brilliant job of highlighting and exploring. I'd recommend it to all my gal pals as it's relatable, fun, whilst also a comforting read when you are at the stage of life of figuring out what we want and how to get there. I loved the angles that each friend brung to the story and seeing how their lives spanned out over time. Finishing this read also makes me want to call all my friends for a check-in and gives a new wave of appreciation for the friends that are doing amazing jobs of being mummas!  ❤️

I'd now love a spin off story about Dorothy, Olive's elderly neighbour who calls Olive her friend and has a rich past of fashion designing for the best in the biz!
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Thanks to Netgalley for the preview of this book.  It was a fantastic read.  Olive is such an easy character to care about & identify with. The issues she deals with in this book are so common & rarely dealt with in such a sensitive & realistic manner.  I loved it & hope Olive comes back again!
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Sometimes, once in a blue moon as if by magic, a book comes along unexpectedly yet exactly when you need it. That was this book for me, I devoured it in a single day during this week. It's simply wonderful. Ol's perspective is one that feels something of a rarity in contemporary literature - a woman in her early 30s who is adamant she doesn't want children. Her friendships with her friends are wonderfully rendered - their love, the highs and the lows of it, are at the forefront. Romantic relationships do inevitably play a part, but they are not the sole focus, which is truly refreshing. The narrative jumps to flashbacks and memories, a fantastic use of form to enhance the potency of the present day proceedings. All in all, this is truly faultless book that will certainly be one of my favourites of the year.
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What a cute book! I really enjoyed getting lost in Olive’s world. I think this is even one I might suggest for bookclub - just to re read! I loved the character development and was just a fantastic story!
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This was fantastic and super relatable. I was gripped from beginning to end. Again it's the kind of contemporary fiction I love - character driven and about the lives of ordinary people. It centres on Olive, a woman of 33 who does not want kids. She's just broken up with her boyfriend of nine years because he wants a family. Surrounding Olive are her 3 best friends she's known since school - Bea, Isla and Cec. The decisions the women make as they grow up, and the differences between them, make up most of the plot.

I loved that the book portrayed so many aspects of motherhood (and not wanting to be a mother). Bea had a family young, and has 3 kids. Isla has endometriosis (always good to have rep) and is struggling to have a child. Cec has a newborn and is struggling with being off work with a less than hands on husband. All the of the women have different circumstances which makes Olive's relationships with her friends a really interesting and emotional read.

Motherhood is such a difficult topic to tackle, and I appreciate Emma Gannon putting wanting to be child free at the centre of her book. Everyone says I'll change my mind about kids, just like they do to Olive throughout the book. I mean, I might? I'm 25. But what if I don't? I am touched by Olive. Yes she's a little inconsiderate of her friends, and honestly it was difficult to read the interactions between Olive and Isla, given one doesn't want kids and one can't have kids. But I also totally get where Olive is coming from. The only way I would improve it would be to have more diversity in the central characters.

Thanks to NetGalley for the eARC. This is a great book and I'll definitely be getting a hard copy when it comes out later this year.
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I don’t think I’ve ever read a character that has resonated with me quite as much as Olive. Like me, Olive is in her early 30s and pretty sure she doesn’t want children. This is a funny, realistic story that explores a topic I haven’t really read about before, what it’s like navigating life as a woman who is child free by choice. We meet Olive’s lifelong friends who are all having, or trying to have, families and we see how choosing a child free life can sometimes put strain on friendships and relationships. I loved this book and really enjoyed the style of writing. I thought the quotes and tweets interspersed throughout a great addition too. 

 I’m looking forward to reading more from Emma Gannon in the future.
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I really wanted to like this more than I did. There is a lot of potential for a wonderful novel here, loads of interesting ideas, and it's written in a very accessible way. Personally, though, I found it hard to believe in any of the four main characters: to me, they all seemed incredibly self-centred and one-dimensional. It felt very young. I also don't know if the manuscript is pre-copyedit, but there were lots of clunky and confusing transition moments. I really don't like to leave negative reviews and I am sure lots of people will love this book, but it wasn't for me, personally.
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Olive is at a crossroads in life. The crossroads being her partner of nearly a decade wants kids, and she doesn't.
Olive is a book about motherhood and guilt, and that's why I ended up loving it. Guilt of not wanting to be a mother, being a good enough one, being a wife as well as a mither, guilt over not being able to have children, of choosing to let someone go so they can have what they want without you. The positive comments, the notes of changing minds, the pressure to have kids, have it all, succeed at work, live life.

As a recent mum, phew, a lot of it caught me off guard. There's an almost ingrained guilt to pregnancy and motherhood, and a guilt about not having children, and here it was shown across a wide range of brilliant characters, all dealing with their own twist on the idea.

A really good book. I've not read anything that so candidly shows the many stories of women's relationships with the idea of being a mum and does so without judgement. Heartfelt and brilliant, devoid of cliche.
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** spoiler alert ** I found Olive,and each of her friends incredibly relatable.
A group of friends that you'd want to be part of.
Refreshing to read of a woman who chooses not to have children,without the cliched ending of finding the right man and changing her mind.
There was humour and warmth in this book.
Definitely being bought for a few friends
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Olive is about to turn 33 and she’s just split from her boyfriend of nine years because he’s ready for kids but that’s not something she wants for herself. Her best friends Bea, Cecily and Isla are all having their own struggles relating to motherhood and family. They’ve been friends since they were little but now seem to be drifting apart. Olive is trying to rediscover herself outside of her relationship and is looking for people to finally accept that she doesn’t want children and that’s ok.
This was a really heartwarming read, at times it was tense and there was a lot of friendship group drama. Ultimately this was a story of acceptance, for all the girls in the group. I appreciated that each woman was dealing with a different problem relating to motherhood, the author really tried to represent different groups in society. Olive doesn’t want children, Bea married her university boyfriend and has 3 kids, Cecily is a career driven lawyer who’s preparing to have her first child and Isla has Endometriosis, she’s currently undergoing IVF to fulfil her dreams of being a mother. I thought the themes this novel explores were tackled well and though the characters were flawed it just made them more human. 
I really enjoyed this book and it’s one I’ll definitely be purchasing when it’s released.
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