Book Review

Review: Josh and Gemma Make a Baby by Sarah Ready

I was looking for a quick read, a frilly story and some light humour and got … some of it. I also got basically a repeat of the entire Bridget Jones plot and, do we need to tell Helen Fielding?

Title: Josh and Gemma Make a Baby
Author: Sarah Ready
Pages: 366
Publisher: Swift & Lewis Publishing
Publication Date: 25th January 2022
Ownership: eARC through NetGalley

Rating: 2 stars

This was … not the one. In essence, the story was fun and had the light rom com approach I was looking for: Gemma is divorced and alone and decides she wants a baby, so starts researching IVF and can’t think of anyone better than her brother’s best friend to become her sperm donor. Gentle romance and misunderstandings ensue in Gemma’s quest to become pregnant.

However, alongside this, Gemma also works for a self-help guru (whose entire ethos appears to be cheesey and uncomfortable one liners that go on posters with kittens – are we supposed to admire this man??). She has been obsessed with him for years, and he’s finally begun to notice her – can she have her brother’s best friend as her sperm donor and her perfect office romance?

Of course not. And there are multiple reasons why Gemma should not. For one, after a miserable family Christmas party (a la Bridget Jones Turkey Curry party), she decides she wants a baby, and awkwardly approaches the only decent single man in the room about it, whom she had sex with years before. Are we really allowing a woman who is trying to fill a lonely void in her life with a baby to go through with this?

Gemma also knows nothing about IVF (or its expense, and can get an appoint at a clinic the same day). And apparently has no friends until she starts going to an IVF support group, where all of her new friends have been struggling for years to have a baby (guess how long it takes Gemma …). I know it’s light and frilly, and it touches somewhat about the challenges of IVF and the potential toll on relationships – but it’s all on Gemma’s group, and a lot less on Gemma. The main thing that was piled on Gemma was that apparently her entire town knew that she is now infertile and seems to think it’s appropriate to bring it up in casual conversation.

It’s really not a positive story about a woman finding her own version of family (and romance alongside it) when the woman in question is being shamed for being infertile.

The story is one thing, I can let a lot slide for the genre. But it was also a literal rehashing of Bridget Jones’ Diary. Including the body-shaming family, strange outfits, themed dinners, childhood vs workplace romantic interest, men being cads, the cheating ex (although this time it was Gemma who walked in on her husband “at it like rabbits”), fisticuffs, inappropriate office flirting after seeing Gemma in a bra (rather than the see-through blouse and short skirt), a carbon-copy of posh and snippy office-mate Perpetua, guess-what-the-boss-is-an-ass, and the classic cheating followed by “I thought you said she was thin.”

Has Bridget Jones just fallen out of pop culture enough that no one is picking up on this? I almost fell off my spin bike in shock.

To be honest, I kept reading to see how close the story could get. And I didn’t entirely hate reading it. But let’s just say Helen Fielding should be getting some royalties.

I received an eARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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