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Publisher's 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 is many things. Independent. Adrift. Anxious. Loyal. Kind. She knows her own mind. And it’s okay 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 and - sometimes - stereotypes to fulfil. 

So when her best friends’ lives branch away towards marriage and motherhood, leaving the path they’ve always followed together, she starts to question her choices - because life according to Olive looks a little bit different.  

Moving, memorable and a mirror for anyone 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.

©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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Wonderful story, wonderful narrator

Omg I love that there is a book about a woman who choses to not have kids. Olive's character is so relatable and realistic. Whilst listening I couldn't help but be reminded of the show Fleabag... even though this story is totally different. Turns out that's because the narrator is Sian Clifford, she does a great job. I definitely recommend this book !

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I finally felt seen and heard

Thank you. I finally felt seen and my life choices treated in a respectful manner. A must read for anyone who is contemplating or has chosen to be child free by choice.

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Enjoyable

Easy to listen to, I enjoyed it especially closer to the end. Think I may be a little old (at 37) for some of it as the language was a bit ‘young’ and I found some of it a little cliched but maybe I’m cynical! Good holiday read.

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Hallelujah! Love, love, love this book!

I adored this book, so thrilled to read a book with a different sort of protagonist, with different challenges and goals. She's NOT a ditzy hopeless mess type like Bridget Jones, she hasn't gotten herself into a crazy madcap scenario, nor is she pining away for a man. Olive is a woman you'll relate to and love, even if you're not facing the same decisions or have the same attitudes.

Love Emma's voice and ideas. She does a podcast (I immediately subscribed) and has a great Instagram and blog (I am now following). She looks like someone I want very much to be friends with, hope she writes more books.

As for the narration - Sian Clifford!! What a privilege. She is simply wonderful.



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Faultless story

I absolutely loved this. Narrator was excellent, and I guffawed aloud in public a number of times while I was out walking and listening. So relatable and feels like your own group of friends.

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Loved it!

Such a gorgeous book. As a mum with two children who in the early days asked my self every day “WHY THE FUCK did I decide to procreate?”, I got this book. It resonated, haaaard!
Love/hate all the characters. I want to send it onto all my child free friends and I will be more mindful of the language I use when talking about this topic.

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Absolute perfection!!

For every woman being told your decision isn't valid, your life won't be worthwhile, you just haven't met the right person, you'll change your mind... This book is perfection!
Even if that's not you, it's brilliantly written with one of the best narrations. Sian Clifford was excellent!

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Took me a While to get into this

If you're young, considering a family or not, then this book would be a good read for you. I felt a little old for it to be honest. A nice story of friendships though.

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Strong complex female character novel

This book talks about the choice of having children in contemporary society. The characters are complex, not always likeable, and different in their own approaches to having kids. I thought this was a really interesting discussion for a fiction book. The voice actor cannot do an Australian accent to save her life though 😂.

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great performance and story

I adored everything about this. nuanced story and a great performance. please read this now!

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  • Anonymous User
  • 03-04-2021

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
  • 19-10-2020

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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  • Anonymous User
  • 11-10-2020

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

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  • K. J. Noyes
  • 07-08-2020

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.

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  • Kirsten Maccallum
  • 09-08-2020

Brilliant book

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

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  • Sarah
  • 02-08-2020

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.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 28-08-2020

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.

3 people found this helpful

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  • papapownall
  • 27-07-2020

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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  • Vicki H
  • 09-08-2020

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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  • Rebecca Clarke
  • 05-08-2020

I absolutely loved this book

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

2 people found this helpful

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  • Loz
  • 05-08-2020

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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  • Amazon Customer
  • 28-07-2020

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!

1 person found this helpful

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  • Miss A. M. Pinks
  • 13-06-2021

Oh my goodness I absolutely LOVED this book

I have never listened to a book in less than 24 hours yet I could not get enough of this, absolutely and truly loved it. I have also never resonated with a character so much in my life and it was so utterly refreshing for this to address the taboo friend who doesn't want to follow the normal life path expected of us and to prioritise herself, her wishes and her not wanting children and feeling judged for it. I am truly grateful to Emma Gannon for this book and the narrator was perfect. Absolutely fantastic!

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