Cover Image: Olive


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Member Reviews

Although I had some small issues with Olive, I found it highly enjoyable. I found once I hit the halfway point I had a hard time putting this book down. While I had a hard time loving the character Olive, she still had her moments that I found her lovable and HIGHLY relatable as a fellow woman who also does not have maternal desires. My main issue with this book is it felt a bit too "I'm not like other girls" to me, especially at the beginning. While I can appreciate how hard it is feeling guilty about not wanting to have kids, I don't think it is right to constantly talk about how boring your friends who have kids are now. However, Olive shows great character growth in that aspect because she learns to appreciate not just her friends as moms, but any mother that she just passes by on the street. I just wish she took more accountability for herself. I also felt that there were a few too many loose ends that had not been tied up by the end of the novel. All in all, though, I had a good time reading this and it was nice to read a contemporary novel with not your typical protagonist.
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Have followed Emma Gannon for a while and have enjoyed both her non-fiction titles so was excited to read her debut fiction book. 

I really like Gannon's writing, she has a way with words and it really shines through in her debut. Olive is a great exploration of what it means to be a young woman struggling to find herself on the path that society has dictated for so long. Gannon captures the expectations, the hopes and dreams of a millennial living in London perfectly whilst exploring deeper issues of motherhood and the choice surrounding having children. This isn't a book of argument, she isn't fighting for one opinion over the other simply using a story to divulge the confusion and emotional turmoil women can have over this decision. Olive as a character was well developed and flawed, which made her truly believable and the dynamics of female friendships written sensitively.  

The story is well paced and emotionally vulnerable which I loved. I have recommended this to all my friends and is a great gift for female friends.
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Unfortunately, I was quite disappointed by this book.
It's a refreshing subject matter but not executed very well.
I felt like Olive was a very unlikeable protagonist and came across as very selfish. I have read books before with unlikeable protagonists which have been done much better than here.
The other characters didn't seem padded out and there are a lot of continuity errors which were distracting.
The ending also seemed very rushed.
Overall, an interesting topic but this book missed the mark for me.
Thank you to Netgalley and HarperCollins for the digital ARC
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On all honesty, I struggled initially with this book but I stick with it, and I'm so pleased I did. A great warming story of women in there really 30's who've been friends since primary school, finding themselves thinking about family and what having children means to them. 

 I love how the focus is on the title role of Olive, who categorically doesn't want children, has broken up with her long term partner over this and had felt small and insignificant with her friends who are having or wanting  babies, who can't really understand why Olive feels this way.  We follow Oliver's journey to a happy, fulfilled life.
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I love the author and have followed her podcast for years. I enjoyed this book and I’m a mother of two. I felt sorry for Olive and I could see how lonely it must feel when everyone is having babies. I feel there is a lot of pressure on us to have kids  and this book highlighted the issue perfectly. It was a good read and I thought the ending was perfect for Olive.
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I loved Olive, it captured perfectly how it feels to be a childfree woman of a certain age and how that inevitably brings you into subtle conflict with your friends and family.  It follows Olive and her 3 best friends and how their relationship changes as they move through their twenties and thirties. Olive has made a choice not to have children and we see how challenging it is to carve out that path, even with her closest friends, as her news takes second place to talk about babies. How motherhood acts as a clique that can feel excluding even when people have the best intentions. And how hard that can be if you are childless not through your own choice, as one of the characters is. I felt really seen by Emma Gannon as she reflects on all the ways that society uses to shape women to following the accepted milestones of marriage and babies and how they are valued if they choose to deviate from this path. Hopefully Olive opens up lots of conversations about how women can really be free to choose without the subtle coercive control that is applied, wittingly or unwittingly by society.
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I was excited about reading Olive, due to the topic of the book (having/not having children), but sadly I found it be disappointing.
Olive is an unreliable and unlikeable narrator, and there are barely any other perspectives expressed throughout the story.
I found this book to be quite disparaging of women who choose to have children, and whilst I appreciate the importance of having the conversation to the contrary, I found it to be a little heavy-handed.
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Olive appears to tread the line between being quite commercial, chick lit type fiction while dealing with some weighty issues around the dilemmas of having (or not to have) children, and I’m not sure it was done entirely successfully. In parts I felt it was too fluffy and others not quite serious enough. It was definitely honest, but I still felt like I wanted more from Olive and the peripheral characters. I understood in theory why Olive and her friends felt the way they did, but a bit more character development would have made them more appealing. 

Also, I’m not sure if it was just because I was reading a proof version, or perhaps it’s just Emma’s style of writing but it felt quite jumpy in places, like there would be a sudden shift from one scenario or conversation to another.
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Pleasantly surprised to have a protagonist who chooses to be child free and is happy with that choice, without the frequently seen trope of changing her mind. (even if she ends up with step daughters, and seems to need a man to be happy)
Also - great female friendships, and readable writing style..
But it was a bit ‘and they all loved happily ever after (despite significant but briefly described blips each simultaneously)’, the protagonist was essentially a selfish narcissist with a borderline drinking problem, and the other friends were fairly one dimensional.
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Love love loved this book! As soon as I read the first page I just knew it would be my kind of book. Full of love, friendship, tears, and plenty of drama that comes with life. I love how Emma has made every woman’s life feel like it matters, wether you’re a mum or not, we all have our very important roles to play within society.
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Olive is a refreshing, original story examining the expectations placed on women to have children.

Olive, a woman in her early thirties, is trying to decide what she wants from life despite the pressures placed on her by her partner, family, friends and society. It's shocking how often relative strangers and acquaintances feel they can ask a woman when she's having children. This is such a personal question. She may desperately want to have children but is struggling to conceive or she may not want children at all and then is sometimes faced with judgement for this decision.

This book exposes many dimensions to this issue through Olive and her friends who are all in different places in their lives, which unfortunately causes some conflict between them. I really liked the ultimate strength of their friendship and how they stood by each other through life's twists and turns.

This is a powerful, timely, feminist novel. I give this 4 out of 5.
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I think this is going to be a marmite book. I was really looking forward to reading this novel. The premise was intriguing and I really enjoyed it from the get go. However as I reached the halfway point, it then felt a bit samey and lost the punch that I felt at the beginning. It has plenty of talking points so I think it will make a good book club book.
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I was pleasantly surprised by this book. It’s not that often that you encounter a female protagonist who does not want to have children- in fact I’ve never encountered one. The story explores all aspects of motherhood, from the perfect family to Olive’s own rejection of the idea, further exploring how motherhood is almost considered a requirement of being female in modern society. The book did something which I’ve rarely encountered, which was to teach me a new perspective. I was once one of those women described repeating “you’ll change your mind one day” to those friends who have told me they don’t want to have children, and I now see this from a completely different angle, for how flippantly is disregards a person’s opinions. The story is funny, thought-provoking, emotional and upsetting, and definitely worth reading.
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I really enjoyed this book. Olive is a 31 year old who has recently broken up with her long term boyfriend because he wants children and she doesn't. She has 3 close friends, but none of them understand her decision not to become a mother. This is an insightful look at the pressures facing young women, and the prejudices they face when they don't choose what is expected of them. Thanks to NetGalley for a preview copy.
Copied to Goodreads.
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I really enjoyed this book and it was the first time I'd seen themes such as choosing to be child free explored in such depth. The characters felt relatable and there was enough plot to make this an engaging read.
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Olive follows the story of a thirty-something woman who has made the decision that she doesn't want to have children. As the women around her start to build families, Olive begins to unpack the implications of her choice, and how this will affect not only her future but also the relationships with those she loves.

I went into Olive so intrigued and excited by the premise - I've ever read a novel which centres itself on the decision to not have children, and I can't from the top of my head think of a main character who is actively childfree by choice.

The writing was very easy to read and it felt very contemporary. I'm sure there will be many women who relate to Gannon's writing and will warm to her style.

I'm afraid for me, the book fell flat in a number of ways. The main issue I had is that Olive, the main character whose perspective is the only one we follow, came across to me as a horribly self-centred, self-obsessed and insensitive human being. I wouldn't necessarily mind this - problematic narrators can be very effective - but I have the distinct feeling that this wasn't intentional. She repeatedly judges women (often for things that she herself does - and indeed congratulates herself for doing), she centres herself in every drama even if it has nothing to do with her, and she constantly complains about her friends' decisions to have children because of how their choices affect her. I found her infuriating.

This is also a novel which is not only about choosing not to have children, but one which actively judges women who do. As a thirty-something without children myself, I appreciated some of the social commentary on the pressures to make a family, but the occasionally smug finger-pointing at women who do I found distinctly distasteful. At one point Olive states that her friend Bea is 'not like other mums' because all other mothers ignore their friends' problems and are incredibly self-absorbed. Pot-kettle-black situation there, Olive.

Overall, maybe I'm not the intended audience for this book. If you enjoy novels about friendship, relationship dynamics, and slice-of-life stories which focus on women's issues, then I could see this being a good option. Despite not connecting with the story, I did enjoy the writing and style.
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Thoroughly enjoyed reading this book about a group of friends living in London and working their way through many challenges that we can all recognise. It encapsulates a time in London and in women’s lives in particular. A page turner that I have recommended to all my friends
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Opening with the line 'I am the same age as my mother when she had me' Emma Gannon uses her debut novel, Olive, to raise awareness of the stigma and the stereotypes that surround women who choose not to have kids. As a woman on her thirties Olive is surrounded by friends who either have kids or are desperately trying to have kids and finds that, as someone who isn't sure she wants them at all and has just broken up with her long-term boyfriend over their differing views on having children, she feels quite lost. The novel follows her as she comes to terms with her place in society and decides if she is right in her choice to stay childless, but also as she learns more about her friends than she ever has before. 

I listened to a talk that the author did on launch day and was in absolute awe of the stories she told as to how the book came to be, but unfortunately I wasn't as in awe of the book itself, or its main character.

As with Expectation by Anna Hope, it was the type of book that made me think far into the future to what my decisions might be 5 or 10 years in the future, but I just couldn't click with the main character. Olive seems so certain of the fact that she doesn't need to be a mum to fulfil her place in society (which I loved), but then ends up making comments that don't quite fit with that, she makes questionable decisions and never ends up regretting them and, until later in the book, she lacks much empathy for her friends' very different but equally valid situations. I found myself frustrated with Olive most of the time and felt that the other characters faded into the background a little bit.

I'm so glad this book was written as it is amazing in the way it highlights that women who can have children, but would just rather not, can feel intensely pressured to have kids by those around them and judged for something as personal to them as choosing to have kids. It does have some quite funny lines and some quite deep reflections, but I think in the end I was a bit disappointed with the way that it panned out in the end.
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4.5 Stars

This book spoke to my soul.

I cannot believe how related I felt with Olive, and how many similarities we shared. 

I went blind into this book, victim of a very nice cover .. and I couldn't be more pleased.

The relationship between the women in this book was so real, 4 different ladies dealing with different things at the same  time, 

I'm not sure if this book will be every single woman cup of tea ( strong belief etc etc) but in my opinion it definitely should.
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This book wasn't at all what I was expecting which was a whimsical, Eleanor-Oliphant-style novel; instead, it was a  child-free woman's raw account of navigating a society that still very much believes that women were put on this Earth to give birth.

Olive is 30ish and knows deep in her heart she doesn't want children. 'Oh she'll change her mind, there's still time' says everyone. But Olive doesn't want to change her mind - she's known for a long time now and is quite fed up at having to justify her decision. Her friends are all at different child-bearing stages of life and Olive is still the young, care-free woman they paint her to be. Like she's the lucky one. But this is her choice. So why does it feel like she's being punished for choosing to live her life this way?

I wasn't sure how I felt about this book at first - it felt more autobiographical and quite narrowed in on the child-free topic. But as Olive's character developed, I really felt what life must be like in her shoes. Her long-term friends shunning her because their children are now the priority. People making her question her life decisions on a daily basis. Heck, she can't even stay with her beloved boyfriend of nine years because she knows she'll never change her mind about wanting a family and how can she ruin that for him?

It's a shame because I do believe this book will divide opinions but I commend the author for tackling such a sensitive and taboo subject with unapologetic freedom. There was plenty of comedic relief which made the topic a little less heavy and enough real-life situations to make everything feel far from a fictional story about a woman going through a seemingly midlife crisis. 

I really enjoyed everything about this book - the characters, the themes, the diversity, the ending - it really was a refreshing perspective for a contemporary novel. 

Perhaps I'm not quite the target audience for this one but I can still appreciate it for what it is - a modern reflection on how women can follow the path they choose to lead rather than conform to societies expectations.
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