Thursday, 4 July 2019


Heartbreaking, suspenseful, provocative, The Farm pushes our thinking on motherhood, money, and merit to the extremes, and raises crucial questions about the trade-offs women will make to fortify their futures and the futures of those they love.

Title: The Farm
Author: Joanne Ramos
Publisher: Bloomsbury Fiction
Genre: Adult Literary Fiction
Release Date: 7th May 2019

BLURB from Goodreads
Nestled in the Hudson Valley is a sumptuous retreat boasting every amenity: organic meals, private fitness trainers, daily massages--and all of it for free. In fact, you get paid big money--more than you've ever dreamed of--to spend a few seasons in this luxurious locale. The catch? For nine months, you belong to the Farm. You cannot leave the grounds; your every move is monitored. Your former life will seem a world away as you dedicate yourself to the all-consuming task of producing the perfect baby for your überwealthy clients.

Jane, an immigrant from the Philippines and a struggling single mother, is thrilled to make it through the highly competitive Host selection process at the Farm. But now pregnant, fragile, consumed with worry for her own young daughter's well-being, Jane grows desperate to reconnect with her life outside. Yet she cannot leave the Farm or she will lose the life-changing fee she'll receive on delivery--or worse.


I had noticed this book advertised via a books newsletter and already read the blurb and knew that, with no doubt I wanted to read it. The UK cover is the plainer of the covers I have seen. An orange background will help it stand out on a book store shelf and draw your eyes to it. The pregnant female forms on the cover tell you without a doubt that the subject of pregnancy is featured within. The genres I have seen listed for this book are General Fiction & Literary Fiction which I agree with but would add both Dystopian & Futuristic to this list.

We meet one of the books main characters Jane who is a single mother to baby Amalia who has recently left her cheating, rather controlling husband. We join Jane as she is desperately attempting to find her older cousin Evelyn, though as is in Filipino culture she respectfully calls her Ate. Ate is 70 yrs old but is a hardworking baby-nurse who has collapsed whilst at work and been taken to the A&E. When Ate is released from the hospital it is clearly apparent, she is not fit for work, in fact due to a heart murmur she needs to take life a lot easier than she has been doing. After some discussion and a little pressure from Ate, Jane agrees to leave her poorly paid job at a nursing home for the elderly to stand in as a baby nurse. Jane is also cajoled into leaving baby Amalia with Ate and the other women that live in the dormitory house. Ate has been a baby nurse for years and has been called “a brown Mary Poppins” by some of her clients. Ate’s reputation is so good she has often acted on behalf of families finding them a suitable person that she knows herself for the job. Ate has her own rules and ways and imparts them on the girls she recommends making them better employees. When Jane’s baby nurse job ends Ate has an idea for another “perfect” job for her. As Jane has no job and baby Amalia to look after its quite an easy sell to Jane. The job application is in depth and involves lots of paperwork, though it is fairly easy to do. Jane has passed the first stages of the interview procedure and has to travel to the final stage of the Interview process to become a surrogate. As part of this final stage Jane is shown round Golden Oaks which is set in an unspoilt area of lush, natural scenery. If chosen as a “Host” which those that live at Golden Oaks are referred to, you quite literally live in relative luxury! Where the motto is “The best host is a happy host”. Hosts are surrogates for wealthy clients who cannot have children or have left it too late to carry their own child, or those who do not have time for a pregnancy in their hectic rich lifestyle. The pay is good, but Mae Yu, the female business head of Golden Oakes is particular about the type of woman makes the correct sort of host. Mae answers only to head of the whole Holloway Group, Leon. At Golden Oakes the pregnant hosts are monitored closely by wellness co-ordinators, that take care of their body and mind.  Their food intake is monitored along with the amount of exercise they are doing. All this is measured and recorded by a wellness band. Though some of the hosts lean the downside of the wellness band is that it also contains a tracker. The hosts are paid in stages and when a safe, healthy birth has happened they get what is called a delivery bonus. It sounds like the perfect job but you cannot have guaranteed visits from your family or for yourself to go out, unless your rich client agrees to them. The client is regularly updated on the pregnancy with ultrasounds being seen remotely via computers. Everything has to be done to reassure the client that their “investment” is doing well.

My favourite characters were Jane who is having to do all these jobs away from her baby to provide for her and her future. I also liked Reagan who is being a surrogate so she can have money of her own rather than relying on hand outs from her parents. I have to admit to being fond of the rule breaking, straight talking Lisa as well. She proves to be a true friend when Jane most needs one when she thinks Amalia is in danger. For the character I loved to hate, I would say it has to be Ate, because yes, she helps Jane and women like her find jobs but she isn’t doing just out of the goodness of her heart.

The pace of the book and its writing style make this book hard to put down. There’s lots of “what going to happen next” or “guessing answers” to questions you have at the end of chapters, which keeps you glued to the book. I really did honestly love this book, it had me from the first word and held me to the very last word and left me wondering about what could come next! This book is amazingly different yet so believable! With, the mention of Red Cedars another facility like Golden Oaks opening and then the other surrogacy scheme called Project Macdonald that Mae is putting to Leon there’s certainly room for more hosts, clients & books! Having said that this book also works brilliantly as a standalone read. I would also like to add that though this book is listed as Literary, and General Fiction, I would predict that this could quite well become the norm in our not too distant future. The setting and style of the book actually reminded me a little of The Unit by Ninni Holmqvist and Body Parts by Jessica Kapp.

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