Cover Image: Olive


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Member Reviews

I don't think I am the target audience for the story of 'Olive' by Emma Gannon, being married, aged 50 with two older teenage children. That said I do have a very close friend, who has been happily married for years, and who, like Olive chose to remain child-free, and who rails against those who would criticise her decision, challenge her lifestyle choice and question her reasons. Therefore, having seen both sides in all its real-life glory, I was intrigued to see how the author would portray the theme.

As it turns out, the writing style bore a resemblance to chick-lit, but with a thirty-something cast living (nearly) adult lives. I've grown out of this genre as a rule.

The story begins in 2008 with cast of four, Olive, Bea, Isla and Cec, moving out of their co-habiting lives, reliving their previous shared experiences and swearing to always make time for each other as they move on as individuals.

Moving on to 2019, Olive has just broken up with Jacob, her boyfriend of nine years. He wanted children, she didn't. As Olive tries to come to terms with the break-up, and turns to her beloved friends for consolation, she begins to realise that they are all moving on too; Bea already has three children, Cec is heavily pregnant with her first, and Isla is battling with endometriosis and as we later discover, with trying to conceive.

I actually found Olive a bit annoying and almost stopped reading the book at about the halfway mark. Olive was choosing her way of life...great, fair enough...but she was very unwilling to accept that her friends choices were different to hers and just as valid! They were moving on, but their moving on was different to hers.

I did read to the end and was relieved that Olive seemed to accept that her way wasn't the only way, but in my personal (and very humble) opinion, it was a little tedious getting there!
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I was excited to be approved for Olive. It had been on my radar for a while. 

Olive follows the story of a woman who doesn't want to have children. Her friendships pave the way for humour and emotion, and it was refreshing to read a book with a marked difference. I enjoyed it, but I couldn't connect with Olive or the others and I'm not sure if it's because of not knowing them well enough, or living a different lifestyle. 

I love Emma Gannon's work, and I think that her non-fiction is superb. That style of writing did creep through in this work, but it didn't put me off even if it did throw me out of the story occasionally.

Thanks to Netgalley for the opportunity to read and review.
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This book wasn't for me I'm afraid. I just found Olive tedious and the writing ungainly. I did love the cover and the artery artwork though.
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When I heard that this book centred on a main character that had decided not to have children, I jumped at the chance to review it, so thank you to the publisher for gifting me the ebook on Netgalley.
I will say that I listened to the audiobook and I didn't particularly love the narration.
I think maybe the problem for me is that I was so invested in loving this book, I hyped it too much to myself, as a woman who has also chosen not to have children, I was excited to read about a main character like me, but this is where I struggled. Olive for the most part just wasn't very likeable, her character was so hung up on not having children she shouted about it to everyone, making it seem to me that she was doing part of it for attention and part because she was trying to convince herself.
Her character also seemed so selfish and maybe we needed this arc throughout so we could route for her to come good at the end, but it just grated on me.
I could go on and on about my feelings, but I am trying to separate those from the book a bit and I will say I did enjoy that Olive had a career and that her friend base were all very strong women. It was a quick listen and enjoyable overall, but does also deal with infertility of one of the secondary characters, so if this may be triggering for you maybe steer clear.
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Olive follows our title character as she leaves the familiarities and comforts of uni life to head out into the big, scary world, but she’s okay because she has her three best friends with her: Bea, Cecily, and Isla. Each has made their way in London, carving out their own lives while still making sure this group of childhood best friends is their main priority. Until now, when everyone is married (except Olive), everyone has/is expecting/is trying for a baby (except Olive) and everyone’s life is going (mostly) just the way they want it (you guessed it, except Olive’s.) So when Olive starts speaking out about how she doesn’t want kids, and how she doesn’t think she’ll ever wants kids, she faces a backlash that brandishes her naive, selfish, and down right ungrateful. Is this the future Olive really wants for herself? And how can she convince other people that it’s a perfectly fine future to want?

I received a digital ARC of Olive from NetGalley, but because I’m so behind in reading my physical ARCs, I listened to the audiobook version, narrated by Sian Clifford (Fleabag’s sister from Fleabag), on Scribd (subscription to Scribd is my own purchase).

I wasn’t a massive fan of the audiobook, and while I liked Sian in Fleabag and appreciate her other work, and while I can see that a lot of readers of Olive would be a fan of hers too, I didn’t click with her narration of this book. I thought she made Olive come across whiney and a bit unbearable, and not in that ‘unlikeable female character way where woman are disliked for just being normal humans.’

I had some doubts about this book to begin with. It took me a while to get into, in the sense that as I’ve said above I didn’t click with the narrator, and Olive said some very cringeworthy things such as ‘Brie is everything’ when she’s a thirty something year old woman, but I powered through.

And, I did end up quite liking this book. Sort of. As someone who also doesn’t want children, and has already been given the ‘how can you not want children/you’ll change your mind/blah blah blah’ talk, I was really intrigued to read Olive. But while I have had those comments made at me, I still think there’s plenty of people out there, cis-women included, who are vocal about the fact they don’t want kids too. Yes, Olive did find a community in the book, but it’s not as radical an idea as it was put out to be.

It also felt like there were too many opposing points of view trying to vie for page time. They’re all realistic issues, and are all an important part of the discussion around childbirth, but for one woman to experience them all in a couple of months of her life is a bit much, and made for a very content heavy reading experience.

Can we also talk about how the only LGBT character in the book, Colin, was just so very stereotypical and badly written?

I did connect a bit with Olive, in the way that all her friends are going off in different directions and she’s feeling a bit left behind and out of the circle, but a lot of the time I was really just frustrated. They’re meant to be best friends since childhood! They’re close enough that they’ve last all this lenght of time together! Just speak! Say the words you are trying to say! Stop hiding things and lying and actually communicate! That’s one of my biggest pet peeves in books, a blatant lack of communication for ‘plot progression’ when it doesn’t seem realistic or for a genuine reason. Also it ended with Olive doing a lot of apologising and… she wasn’t the one in the wrong? Definitely not the only one, and I’d say the other’s acted worse than her.

So, after all that, I did sort of end up enjoying it, especially the main thread about being adamant you don’t want kids, I just feel like the characters through which this story was told were a bit… 2D? Underwhelming? Annoying?

I dare say if I had read it instead of listened to it I might have had a different opinion because as I said, I found Sian Clifford’s interpretation of Olive unappealing. So while I didn’t hate this book, I definitely didn’t love it and find myself somewhat on the fence about it
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Huge thanks to Harper Collins and Netgalley for allowing to me to read an advanced copy of this book. All views are my own. I'm sorry that I didn't read it before the published date! I only received it a week before the published date so was a bit behind the curve! 

As above, I requested this book a while ago on Netgalley, I had heard the buzz about it and thought I would give it a go! So this month, when I was struggling to sleep one night - I grabbed my kindle and starting reading.  Also, bonus, it fits this month's book shelf raiders theme ( a book with a name in the title)! 

I have to be honest, its not a book I thought it would be. When I first read the blurb on Netgalley, I thought oh this will be a nice light read about a women who is on a different path to her friends and who will find the good in life.

But I found that it was a lot more real. It was honest and raw. Olive doesn't want kids, she just can't see them in her future and because of this has recently split up with her long term boyfriend. Yet everyone around Olive is moving on with their lives and its making Olive feel a bit lost. Her friends around her are having babies and struggling to have babies and whilst Olive knows that children are not for her, its something which is making her feel like she should want them.

I have to be honest here, I found it fairly hard to read and pick up to continue to read.  I guess this is because of the subject and that Olive was very focussed on what she wanted/needed. I will say however that when I did pick it up, I was able to read it once I focussed and removed all distractions, due to the subject, I found it hard to pick up. I decided because of this to try Audibible (30 day free trial) and listen to the book instead. It definitely helped with the subject of it and it also made it harder in some ways. You feel the pain more when someone is reading it. It becomes a lot more real. Listening to the book really did help me glide through the book. It was read by Sian Clifford from Fleabag. A perfect fit in my opinion!

I have to say I really felt for Olive, whilst I do want kids hopefully at one point, I do know people who don't want/never wanted kids and that's fine - it's totally their choice. I felt for Olive because she felt like this meant she was alone. It was her overcoming her own battles and insecurities which made it hard to listen to. . Listening to the book made Olive seem real. Really real and that's not a bad thing at all.

Whilst this personally wasn't my favourite book of the year, I can see it being a great book club read. It has lots of discussion points and really gets you thinking. Everyone has the choice to do what they want with their life/body and its nice to read something honest. It didn't really read as a fiction if that makes sense because it was about a true subject matter that really does impact thousands of women across the world.
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This was such a lovely book! I love how it dealt with the pressure society puts on women, as well as friendship, but stayed a light and lovely read! I really liked Olive as a main character, and I liked that she did not want kids. It's refreshing! I understand why it wouldn't be for everyone, but it totally worked for me!
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Olive was an outstanding book that I just did not want to put down as now it is so much more common for woman to be open and honest about not wanting kids which i think is great that women do not feel the need to conform to their gender role anymore. I Would say that this book is amazing, I loved the style of writing.
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What an interesting subject matter. Well written and shows a great perspective. Characters that were well rounded and interesting. Would recommend
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"Olive" is a story of thirty something woman and her three girlfriends navigating friendship and  lives while their personal circumstances change. It is a fresh look at a friendship, as it deals with a subject not often (if at all) mentioned in books - not wanting to have children. Olive tries to justify and explain her decision to her friends and to herself as well, and at the same time deals with other people presumptions and expectations. I loved that Olive was able to stick to her guns despite her friends all having different opinions on the matter.
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I think the topic of this book is so important and it's a conversation we need to be having. It's refreshing to have lead characters in women's fiction that choose a different way to live a life, as there are so many different ways and too often it's about meeting the man and having children. This is Emma Gannon's first work of fiction and sometimes I felt that you could tell that she's used to writing non-fiction, as her characters were not as developed as I would have liked. That said, I enjoyed this a lot and look forward to reading whatever she decides to publish next.
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I was so excited to read this, as I felt sure I would relate to the themes and characters. It fell a little flat for me however, with some big stereotypes, clichés and clunky dialogue that didn't feel real to me.
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This is the story of Olive. She is 33 and she is in a group of 4 friends who have been pals since college. One has children, another is pregnant and another is going through IVF. Olive isn't sure she ever wants to have children and is starting to feel the pressure from friends, her boyfriend and strangers. Its about accepting who you are , your life choices and friendships. Its an easy read with a serious topic. I really enjoyed it .
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Olive is a regular working woman, with a fab bunch of friends. But due to life getting in the way they have of course become distant, something I think we are all too familiar with. Whilst her friends are moving forward with their lives with getting married and having children, Olive can’t think of anything worse! But the pressures of society cause her to rethink all of her decisions, is she making the right choice? Will she regret it? Should she listen to what everyone thinks that she should do with her life?

Thank you to Emma Gannon & Harper Collins UK/Harper Collins fiction for allowing me to read a copy of this. This was released back in July, and I honestly think it’s a book that every woman should read.

I have to say that this book is amazing, it’s relatable and it’s REAL. There are too many books out there that create this ‘perfect life’ for a woman including marriage, babies and just generally having their act together. But guess what? We don’t, not really. If you do then hands up to you, but in general women deal with societal issues (and so do men), but I think that there is a lot of pressure on women and what they should do with their future and their bodies. And this book brings all of those issues to life in the most amazing way, and it’s resonated with me ever since I finished reading it.

I am someone who has been ‘on the fence’ about having children of my own for years. I was in a relationship a while ago with someone who wanted that ‘perfect life’, and that included children, therefore because that was what he wanted, then I had to do it. Long story short, that relationship ended for lots of reasons. But the moment it did, I came back to myself. I realised that for years I believed that I wanted children because so did my ex, but now that I have control over MY life (which sounds ridiculous because I always did) I realised that actually, I’m not so sure that I do. It’s still something that I think about daily because unlike men, women have a little clock inside their bodies that tells them when they’ve run out of time to have children. I’m a long way off of that deadline, but it’s such a huge decision that I feel needs a lot of thought.

The book looks at how society EXPECTS you to have a child because you’re a woman. You get the people that say ‘you must be next’ or ‘are you trying yet?’. When really, it’s such a personal decision and if people feel the need to say anything, it should be something like ‘do you think you’ll have a baby one day?’ or something as considerate as that.

The book looks at the kind of thoughts that you may face in the future such as regret and loneliness. These are thoughts that run through my head too, and as much as I’m still not sure, this book made me realise that it is completely NORMAL (whatever that is) to feel the way that I do.

Not everyone is maternal, not everyone can have children and some people will just never have children by choice. It is not something that you should ever be forced to do, bringing a life into a world as crazy as this one is something that should be thought about and whether it’s something you really want to do.

All in all, it’s got to be one of my most favourite books hence the five stars. I’d recommend it for anyone. Whether it’s someone like me who still doesn’t know if they want children or someone already with children. If it helps take away the stigma of not having children, then I’m happy.

I also want to say that I recommend this book for men too. It can be helpful to have an insight into a woman’s mind, as it’s not something a man might personally experience, but of course, men can be in a situation where they don't want children either, and that is OKAY.

Not having children for whatever reason needs to be normalised, and a book like this in today's society is greatly necessary.
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This was a refreshing read as it features a character who has chosen not to have children, and they seem very rare in a lot of fiction nowadays! It centres around her and her group of friends who have been together since Uni and the ups and downs that follow the lives of the women as they follow different paths.

Olive has a really great career as a journalist and you get the impression she always has her writer head on all the time as she does tend to over analyze every situation she finds herself on - my only gripe about the character! - and those thoughts then plague her response as she lets them fester.

As her friends around her begin to get married and have kids, she finds herself becoming an 'outsider' to their conversations and I can totally relate to her on that account! When she is suffering personally she doesn't find it easy to share what she is going through as there's always something else going on in their lives so she tends to keep things to herself and try to work through them, but does find salvation in the form of her elderly neighbour Dorothy and that was a really touching aspect of the book.

Her ex is still on the scene as they obviously still care for each other, it was just the issue of babies that split them. He wanted them, she didn't. And it really captured the battle of emotions - the little comments of 'you'll change your mind' to name but one! - that she faces over 'her choice'! This book really does explore the judgement of others over a choice made by an individual that doesn't fit the social norm! Why should young girls just grow up wanting to get married and have babies?! And why are those who choose not to do those things judged so much by others?

Olive gets to see that the life choices of her friends who she thinks have it all together, aren't quite as great as she imagined and I think that helps show the balance between women on either side of the debate! As she investigates the 'child free' lifestyle for part of the article she is writing she meets a variety of people who think the same way as her, and those who offer therapy for women to change their mind.

I really enjoyed the wide range of angles about the debate that this book throws up and found it a really easy read. Seeing how their lives change over the years when looking back but what counts is the friendships that endure over the years despite the hiccups along the way. A really interesting read and nice to see a character in Olive that doesn't conform! If only we lived in a world where others respected other people's choices!!
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I absolutely loved this book!

A fantastic debut novel from Emma Gannon - heart breaking at times, empowering and so wonderfully written. 

'Olive' explores a wide range of topics such as fertility and motherhood which Gannon writes with such sensitivity. A book that has made me think and at times I found myself relating to Olive. As well as connecting to her friends, Bea, Isla and Cecily. 

It was also an easy read. I would highly recommend this. 

Thank you Netgalley, Harper Collins & Emma Gannon for letting me read and review Olive!! I'm definitely going to buy a physical copy now!
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I have never related to a book so much as Olive. As a 32-year old woman, I'm often asked about children and as ever it annoys me more and more. It shouldn't define who we are and more importantly, it's got nothing to do with anyone!

It was refreshing to read a story of a woman with similar life struggles because you could relate to Olive and her musings. Her character was honest, realistic and normal. Granted, there were elements of your typical chick lit (romance and friend drama) but it was subtle and enhanced the story.
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I wasn't sure what to expect with this, but I absolutely loved it. It was so fresh to read something about someone who didn't want children, and although I didn't necessarily connect, it has opened my eyes to what people tgo through.
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I wasn't sure what to expect at first when I read Olive, but it was more than I'd hoped for. This is the first time I've read modern fiction which chooses to put a character who wishes to remain child-free front and centre. Olive's decision isn't a sidenote in the story of a successful woman, it's an issue that arrests the focus from beginning to end. Any modern woman in her later 20s to early 30s will find something in common with Olive, and it's this connection to the protagonist that makes this book so important. Olive feels like someone we might know. Maybe a best friend or a girl you met at uni. Maybe the online journalist or blogger that you follow from a distance. But most importantly, you'll relate to something in her character, even if it's not her main struggle.

This is a really important book at a time that it is becoming more commonplace for women to choose specifically not to have children. However - it still remains a sticky issue and Olive illustrates that perfectly, as she tries to navigate her way between offspring-sprouting BFFs, a long-term partner, a child-free women's group, and a dodgy shaman. Although the book is very funny in parts, it's also quite poignant and painful too. Emma Gannon does the tricky job of making the reader empathise with not just Olive, but the varying situations of her friends too, as different as they may be. You leave the book feeling that there is truly no right way to 'be' a woman at any age, but modern society hasn't quite caught up to knowing that yet.

Extremely readable and extremely relevant. I have given this four stars because I felt that a little something was missing from the ending to make the book feel whole, but that may just have been my personal interpretation. I'd recommend this to every woman I know.
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I just absolutely loved this book!!! The character of Olive is amazing and I just loved everything, her honesty, her humour, her relationship with friends and the story of how she navigated through life. Such a lovely story about a 33 year old who against convention doesn’t want to have kids.  And her journey to find peace with that. So wonderfully written and I loved it!!!
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