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Pub Date 23 Jul 2020 | Archive Date 1 Apr 2022


The debut novel from the Sunday Times bestselling author, Emma Gannon.

'Olive is a delicate, heartbreaking and delicious story that will bring a pang of delightful recognition to every woman who reads it' Scarlett Curtis

‘Thoughtful, searching, funny, and (most importantly) honest’ Elizabeth Gilbert

‘Relatable and incredibly real’ Louise O’Neill

‘It'll give a voice to countless women’ Marian Keyes

‘Utterly distinctive’ Emma Jane Unsworth

OLIVE is many things.

Knows her own mind.

It’s ok that she’s still figuring it all out, navigating her world without a compass. But life comes with expectations, there are choices to be made, boxes to tick and – sometimes – stereotypes to fulfil. And when her best friends’ lives start to branch away towards marriage and motherhood, leaving the path they’ve always followed together, Olive starts to question her choices – because life according to Olive looks a little bit different.

Moving, memorable and a mirror for every woman at a crossroads, OLIVE has a little bit of all of us. Told with great warmth and nostalgia, this is a modern tale about the obstacle course of adulthood, milestone decisions and the ‘taboo’ about choosing not to have children.

The debut novel from the Sunday Times bestselling author, Emma Gannon.

'Olive is a delicate, heartbreaking and delicious story that will bring a pang of delightful recognition to every...

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ISBN 9780008382711
PRICE £5.49 (GBP)

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Featured Reviews

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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This book perfectly encapsulates how it feels like to be a women in your late twenties, and watching friends start to settle down/move towards different paths than they were previously on. Beautifully handled and written; a true gem to read.

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"I don't want to forget that we are still young. It's clear that our lives are at a major crossroads. We are no longer sat at the traffic lights, though, everyone is already zooming off in different directions. I wish everyone and everything would slow down just for a moment."

Olive is in her early thirties and lives in London with long-term boyfriend, Jacob. She is a journalist who loves her job working at .dot magazine. She remains close to her three childhood and university friends, Bea, Cecily and Isla. As they all settle down, marrying and starting families, Olive is pretty sure she doesn't want children, but everyone else thinks she will change her mind. Jacob wants children and so when he ends their relationship because of this, we follow Olive as she struggles, feeling distant from her friends.

Focusing on Olive and her friends, the narrative moves from earlier points in their friendship, and Olive's relationship with Jacob, providing context. Gannon writes movingly and with empathy, about the four womens' different choices and situations, all of which have their difficulties. Motherhood, infertility, IVF, the choice to be child-free, infidelity, and their many perspectives are experienced by the four friends. Olive struggles with the incompatibilities of her friends' feelings and personal situations and her own, along with society's idea of what a woman should be doing with her life. Cliché-free, everyone doesn't get a happy ending. This is a brilliant, affectionate and empowering read about friendship and life choices, particularly women who want to live child-free.

Out of the four women, my path probably most closely resembles Cecily, having married and had children in my early thirties. Whilst many of my friends have children, some have chosen not to and some are unable to, so I have some understanding of their situations. I can see this resonating with many women, just wish I could have read it a decade ago!

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If you haven’t read this book then pick it up now!! I honestly cannot recommend this highly enough. I have seen this being mentioned by authors I love (Lucy Vine & Lindsey Kelk) so I was really excited to receive an advance copy of this. There is a piece of every single woman in Olive, totally relatable and easy to identify with.
Olive is just figuring life out and sometimes it looks a little different to how other people see it. At the end of the day, just like in real life - it doesn’t matter, why’s it a problem. Just do you!!
Love love love this!!!!!!

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What Emma Gannon achieves in Olive, is nothing short of wonderful. It is an incredibly powerful novel, tackling a complex societal issue, and yet it remains relatable and accessible all the way through.

The novel follows the main character, Olive as she navigates her early thirties with her close friends, who she has been best friends with since school. The novel moves seamlessly between her twenties and thirties, introducing new themes and situations in a very easy-to-follow way. Olive is a young woman, with a great career, which she loves, who has recently broken up with her long-term boyfriend, Jacob.

The book focuses on the expectations placed on Olive and her friends as women, the expectation that they will get married, have children, and so when Olive’s narrative and life does not follow this route, we see, through the book, how she navigates and negotiates this with her friends.

The issues Olive faces, from both her friends and strangers is something many women will be familiar with, and it opened a lot of questions and areas to explore for myself personally. I myself have never been sure if I wanted children, and this book is a great step in understanding the different perspectives of women, and encourages us all to be kind to one another no matter where life takes us.

I really would recommend this book, not just for the way it has been written, but for how elegantly Emma tackles the issue of adulthood, and specifically as women what we can face for not going down a more ‘traditional’ route of having children, and that there should no longer by a prescribed ‘family’ model. Family can mean anything, it doesn’t have to have kids, it can have kids, it can involve partners, or not. It is ultimately the choice of the individual, which should be respected.

There are lot of nuanced perspectives, and you can really examine the characters. None of them are perfect, and at times all of them, including Olive, are frustrating and challenging, but that is the magic of a book like this. These characters are real, relatable, and honest.

Great work from Emma, and I look forward to seeing this book in print later this year. It is certainly one I will be getting for my shelf.

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Lovely story. I found the timelines a bit confusing and more than once had to go back and re check what year I was in!
Characters stayed true to themselves and overall I enjoyed it.

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Olive, a 30 something city slicker, with an inner dialog to die for. Recently single she has some stark choices ahead but with her firm friends beside her, these don't seem quite so difficult. Intense in places with a touch of Eat. Pray. Love. A novel of our times.

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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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