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Summary

The audiobook includes an exclusive interview between Emma Gannon and Dawn O’Porter.

The debut novel from the Sunday Times best-selling author Emma Gannon. 

Olive and her friends have shared every milestone. 

From first loves and first heartbreaks to flatshares and the first scary steps into the real world, they’ve been through it all – together.

But in the maze of life, through the winding paths that lead to different choices and different futures, will the bonds of friendship hold strong when Olive needs them most?

Moving, memorable and a mirror for anyone at a crossroads, Olive is a love letter to the life raft of female friendship and reminds us how, with a little courage, we can all follow our own paths.

©2020 Emma Gannon (P)2020 HarperCollins Publishers Limited

Critic reviews

"This tale of four young women trying to sort out the dilemmas of motherhood...will bring relief and recognition to many. It’s a lovely book - thoughtful, searching, funny, and (most importantly) honest." (Elizabeth Gilbert)

"It'll give a voice to countless women, it'll give them courage...a profound issue wrapped inside an accessible, highly engaging novel." (Marian Keyes)

"Emma Gannon’s novel raises important questions about women’s lives - important themes explored by a true champion of women." (Nina Stibbe)

What listeners say about Olive

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30-something womanhood represented and examined

30-something womanhood represented and examined, hits a nerve.

At least, it hit a nerve with me. Though I'm a mum, Olive really did strike a chord. Olive herself - a successful career in the writing she loves, with lifelong close friends, the story picks up just after Olive's relationship of nine years breaks down - Jacob wants children, Olive has always been adamant that they are not for her.

Olive proceeds to examine her own motivations, history and reasons for this, all the while attempting to move on and keep her friendship going with the old schoolfriends navigating their own life changes and problems - pregnancies, motherhood, relationship worries.

It's all very convincingly portrayed - I don't personally have a close-knit circle of female friends that I turn to in times of need, but I recognised the 'sisterhood' and connection, as well as the obstacles and emotional traumas they each reveal to us. This shows the contemporary lives of women as what they really are: messy, complicated, a veneer of perfection smoothing over the undercurrent of strain, boredom and human frailty.

Olive is never less than empathetic, she isn't perfect herself, sometimes too self-centred, rude or liable to wallow in self-pity. So who doesn't find themselves in this role sometimes? The group of friends will contain someone that you find reminds you of of yourself and your own lives and issues.

I liked the snippets and reminders of Olive's younger self, as she and friends finish University, begin to explore the world of work, worry about pregnancy scares, and slowly start to show the signs of growing up and becoming the women we see in new roles a decade later.

Olive explores the issues of childfree living, both for herself but also for her readers (meaning us as well as those of her publication), in some both funny and quite affecting scenes - attitudes and characters will amuse, annoy, even outrage in their turn. Personally, it's an issue I was rather interested in, having children, seeing the decision from Olive's perspective reminded me very strongly of how different life was, and could be... and I very much liked how Gannon concluded with her protagonist at the close.

Perfect for audiobook, I'm really glad I listened to this, having Olive talking to me was a perfect choice for a story with a narrator sharing so much of her thought process with her readers. The narrator excelled at her voice as well, I slipped straight into her voice and it seamlessly swept from friend to friend.

I didn't expect this to hit home the way it did. And I might even go as far to say I'd read it again, which I don't say very often at all. Recommended, for those who would call Olive a contemporary especially, both for younger women looking ahead at choices they still have time to consider, and for older readers who might want to step inside the shoes still finding their path to contentment with life.

With thanks to Nudge Books for providing a sample Audible copy.

8 people found this helpful

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Thank you

In an increasingly modern world where pretty much anything goes, with people at last beginning to be able to openly live, love and identify in which ever way feels natural to them, this subject matter continues to be a stubborn taboo. Thank you Emma Gannon for taking a leap of faith and writing an entire book about it, I loved it.

5 people found this helpful

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Modern day tale of the tribulations of adulthood

It is safe to say that, as a mid 50s male, I am probably not in the target demographic for this first novel by multi talented journalist / speaker / blogger / selg help guru Emma Gannon. In this book, Gannon tells the story of a group of 30 something woman who have stuck together through thick and thin and have now reached crossroads in their lives. There are some interesting themes explored here including motherhood, relationships and friendship. The characters are strong and there are some interesting story lines and issues are tackled sensitively. This book would also be an excellent basis for a film adaptation. I really enjoyed this. 5 stars.

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Brilliant book

Enjoyed Olive from start to end. Such a delicate topic so thoughtfully and well written. Very much recommend!

4 people found this helpful

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Repetitive and dull

I gave up before the end. The narrator did a reasonable job with a poor script. I just couldn't bear listening to all the ways life is unfair to women who choose not to have children. I get it but as the main theme it was boring.
It did focus on her friends issues with children and fertility but yet again was another area to compare her choices with theirs and justify her position. Could have written the whole thing in 1000 words.

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A needed, thought provoking book with minor flaws

I devoured the book within 2 days as I felt so happy to have at long last come across a novel that features a woman's struggle to accept the fact that she doesn't want kids and describes the struggle being accepted by society, from friends to strangers. A topic sadly completely neglected and met with hostility.

There was so much in the book I could so strongly relate to and I found it inspiring how the friends overcame their difficulties that their lives went in so different directions and the very important bottom line that everyone has their struggles and we need to be a bit more forgiving and understanding with each other.

*spoiler alert* Where I think the book has gone a bit wrong is that a) she is portrayed as quite the career woman with the dream job, again playing a bit into the notion that if you aren't a mother you need to excel in something else and b) towards the end of the story she takes over a very motherly role to 2 girls stressing how much purpose it gives her, so in a way she ends up in a motherly role which defeats the purpose of the book.

The book is well written, sad, funny and thought provoking, the narrator has done an amazing job


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Just fabulous

Bravo Emma Gannon

What a wonderful read. Thanks for dealing with this subject it’s something very close to my heart. I can’t wait to read your future work.

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I absolutely loved this book

This book spoke to me and I am grateful to Emma for writing it. Thank you.

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A heart warming read.

Loved every word! A story with a difference and a great narrator as well. listened to the entire book in 3 days and couldn't put it away!

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Wow

Ive never read a book that deals with this subject before. It was stunning! I’m so impressed! I’m pregnant and found the points of view so interesting particularly the different choices that friends can make.
The ending was also perfect!

1 person found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 03-04-21

White middle class story - funny at times

Not a bad story just got tired with the lack of diversity of thought or voice from the characters. How do people get away with books set in present day London with such conformity and blandness is worth exploring.

Appreciate the attempt at normalizing life choices that differ from expectations.

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  • Marina Alencar Sousa
  • 19-10-20

JUST BRILLIANT!!

This book is a gift, I absolutely LOVED IT! Please everybody listen to it! You won’t regret it!!!

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 11-10-20

what a great book!!

I absolutely loved this book! As a 33 year old myself who struggles with the question whether or not to have kids, I found this so relatable and comforting. I finished it in 2 days! I couldn't stop listening. The narrator was also brilliant!!
I absolutely recommend this book