Gemma is the bored, pretty second wife of Charlie Bovery, the reluctant stepmother of his children and the bête-noire of his ex-wife. Gemma's sudden windfall and distaste for London take them across the Channel to Normandy, where the charms of French country living soon wear off.
Is it a coincidence that Gemma Bovery has a name rather like Flaubert's notorious heroine? Is it by chance that, like Madame Bovary, Gemma is bored, adulterous, and a bad credit risk? Is she inevitably doomed? These questions consume Gemma's neighbour, the intellectual baker, Joubert. Denying voyeurism, but nevertheless noting every change in the fit of her jeans, every addition to Gemma's wardrobe, her love-bites and lovers, Joubert, with the help of the heroine's diaries, follows her path towards ruin. Adultery and its consequences. Disappointment and deception. The English in France. Fat and slim. Then and now.
Many familiar ingredients of the novel are given new life in Gemma Bovery's unique graphic form. Like Posy Simmond's legendary cartoon strips featuring the Weber family, Gemma Bovery was published in weekly parts in the Guardian.