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!