Golden Oaks, or “The Farm” as it is known by residents, is a home for pregnant women designed to look after their every need. A nutritionally balanced menu, exercise planned out, and regular scans and checkups are available for all the guests. The women are all surrogates, carrying babies to term for a regular wage and huge delivery bonus at the end. With five star facilities and more money than ever within their earning potential, the job of a surrogate is attractive to many low paid workers.
Mae runs the whole operation and spends a lot of time making sure the clients are happy, and the hosts are developing healthy babies. It sounds like a 9 month spa break with all inclusive meals and a wage to boot. On the surface Golden Oaks is the perfect solution. Women who can’t, or don’t want to, carry babies to term paying healthy young women to do it for them.
The truth hiding behind the too good to be true sales pitch soon starts to reveal itself. Other hosts aren’t always true to their word, and some are more valuable to the company than others. Golden Oaks is a business at the end of the day and Mae has to do what is right to keep it profitable.
Joanne Ramos has done a lot of research into how this would work in real life. Contracts, clauses, scandals and the everyday interactions are planned out perfectly to make Golden Oaks seems realistic. As the story is told from a few of the main characters it is easy to feel you know all sides of the farm by the end of the book. My only downside was character development. I felt the back stories of many of the women were too detailed. They helped me understand the character motivations but could have been packaged up better to fit in with the Golden Oaks story. It is certainly not a huge criticism though, as the opposite would have been much worse!
The comparisons with The Handmaid’s Tale mixed with the knowledge of surrogacy made me wonder if it was the right book for me. I loved June and her story in The Handmaid’s Tale and I very much doubted this would stand up to comparison. I was pleased to enjoy it in a different way, being genuinely curious as the where the darker parts of The Farm might lead me. There is no graphic pregnancy imagery, but do expect a few sad moments dotted throughout the book.
I received this book from the publisher via NetGalley.
Buy your copy here:
The Farm: A BBC Radio 2 Book Club Pick Amazon.co.uk