Your Preview Verdict: The Jam Queens by Josephine Moon

Your Preview Verdict: The Jam Queens by Josephine Moon

Award-winning jam maker Aggie is determined to take her Barossa Valley cafe to new heights. She has put the pain of unsuccessful IVF treatments and a broken relationship behind her and is focused on the many wonderful possibilities life still holds in store.

When an invitation to travel across Australia on the Ghan for her mother’s seventieth birthday comes her way, she is at first apprehensive. But the trip offers a precious opportunity to spend some quality time with both her disgruntled mother, Valeria, and her distant daughter, Holly, as well as her meddling great-aunt, Myrtle. The four generations of the family, all single women, will be reunited at last.

As the iconic train chugs its way beneath majestic desert skies, Aggie’s difficult past resurfaces, her business comes under threat, and long-held family rifts reignite. To complicate things further, she’s distracted by the attentions of a handsome younger man on his own search for meaning in some of the country’s most remote and magical places.

By the bestselling author of The Cake Maker’s Wish, this is a sweet and soulful story about women being there for each other through the stickiest situations. It celebrates the joys and sorrows of life and reveals the essential ingredients of the true recipe for happiness.

Read some great reviews from our Preview readers here:

I have just finished reading this feel-good story. I found it touching, with funny moments and a lovely easy read!! This story follows four generations of women on their journey together, both physically and spiritually. I particularly loved the inclusion of the Ghan train journey and think readers may be tempted to book this holiday themselves after reading this book. I am! I will also lend it to friends thinking of doing the trip. But back to the book… As the Ghan travels south through the Australian outback, the characters are thrown into a closeness they have avoided for some time, and in doing so are forced to face issues they had avoided or hoped were buried. It’s a story of relationships, of love, of heartbreak, of reconciliation… of family. I could imagine myself on the train with these ladies. I could feel their pain. Their joy. This could be your family.. or mine. Highly recommended. Nell, NSW, 5 Stars

Such a lovely book; heartbreaking and heartwarming in equal measure. A beautiful story with complex but totally relatable family dynamics. This is a story about families and adventure but also about individual courage and strength. Life’s journey is full of ups and downs but love and support make all the difference. It’s so nice to become immersed in a story, to be swept away with an easy, enjoyable, uplifting book that I raced through, so keen to find out what happened !! The descriptions of the iconic Ghan journey with the vibrant landscapes together with all the wonderful sights and sounds were perfect and made it so easy to visualize. A trip on the Ghan is certainly on my bucket list. This is my first Josephine Moon book and it certainly won’t be my last (I’ve bought three more for starters). I love the way she seems to put lots of heart into her storytelling. I felt lots of love reading this book. Now, I’m off to make jam drops. Debra, NSW, 5 Stars

The Jam Queens Josephine Moon I opened this book and read these lines “Aggie unfolded the piece of paper and lifted it onto the tip of her forefinger. She balanced it there, marvelling that something lighter than a tiny finch could carry such a heavy burden. For all the pain the words on the page inflicted, they may as well have been carved into steel bars and chained to her body.” And wow that was me just caught up in this story. I absolutely loved this book and think it is the best novel Josephine has written yet. This story revolved around 5 strong women, 4 generations and each has a story to tell. They are all wonderful at making jam and your mouth will water as you read about the different types of jam made. As they travel on the Ghan the story unfolds. But it is the subplots that make this book so good to read as IVF, health, baby loss, broken relationships, even dramas at school. Each character has a story and secret which are beautifully revealed as you journey through this book. Yes, this is the book you need when you just want to get away and relax. Janet, QLD, 5 Stars

Absolutely loved this book, loved following the generations through happiness, sadness, disasters, rebuilding, very easy to read loved being part of the journey, Thanks for the opportunity to read such a great book. Charlene, NSW, 5 Stars

I have just finished reading this gorgeous book and I can’t stop smiling What an uplifting, sweet, funny, exciting, emotional and simply beautiful read!! I loved everything about it This incredible story follows four generations of women who embark on a journey together, both physically (by travelling through the middle of Australia aboard The Ghan) and also emotionally. As the iconic train makes its way across the magical and remote outback, these women find themselves forced to face their individual heartaches, as secrets and long-held resentments emerge. This is a tale about family, friendships, forgiveness and love. It’s about finding strength after suffering heartbreak, and acceptance, as well as the beauty of being there for each other. This book is stunning. The writing is exquisite and I could visualise the places they visited and feel the excitement of travelling on the Ghan. It made me tearful at times too during tender moments. The women in this book, each with their unique personalities felt so real to me, and I adored all 5 of them! What an incredibly sweet, realistic and uplifting book. Chryssie, QLD, 5 Stars

A wonderfully written record of a typical Australian family, set in an environment full of landmarks and personalities! Emotionally real as it deals with issues facing all of us today, and the genuine struggles found within families and our closest relationships. Very much identifies with Aggie’s relationship with her mother Valeria and loved the grace she extended and how this impacted her own mother/daughter relationship. All in all a wonderful read that promises hope no matter what. Lisa, NSW, 5 Stars

The Jam Queens by Josephine Moon. Hi there, my name is Aggie and I want to take you on a journey with my family. I run a lovely cafe called “Strawberry Sonnet” in the town of Angaston, in the Barossa Valley, South Australia, which is owned by my great Aunt Myrtle. My Mums 70th birthday is coming up and Myrtle suggests we all, including my daughter Holly, and Myrtle’s dear friend Dolce, take a trip on the Ghan. What a wonderful trip it was too, with all the places to see along the way, starting with a few days in Darwin before we head out. To a dinner in Alice Springs under the moonlight with a million stars sparkling. The sheer expanse of nothingness, time to clear your head. But it is not all happy times. Along the way some hidden secrets appear…… I loved the characters of Aggie and Harry and the way things happened between them, some really breathtaking, others sad. There were times when I did need the tissues. I really felt like part of the family reading this and now I am off to buy my ingredients to make some jam. Enjoy, as I did. Fantastic read. #betterreading #josephinemoon #goodreads Sue, NSW, 5 Stars

I always eagerly await a new Josephine Moon book. The cover invites you to settle down with a cuppa and tasty treat in anticipation of the deliciousness that will unfold. Her characters are relatable with all the human foibles of everyday life. You can’t help but feel for Aggie and at times wish to have a harsh word with her mother for her insensitivities. A fabulous read as usual. Judy, QLD, 5 Stars

I recently received an ARC copy of The jam queens by Josephine Moon thanks to #BRPreviews and #PenguinRandomHouse. Like all of Josephine’s books, (which I seriously love), they’re like a warm hug, enveloping and immersing you into the lives of the characters depicted, almost always involving plot lines surrounding food. This treasure is set in South Australia focusing on the Barossa Valley and a getaway on the luxurious Ghan to celebrate Valeria’s milestone birthday it makes an extended family get together despite recent disagreements, past hurts, lost loves and ghosts from the past and confront them all in one go, whilst experiencing the beauties Australia’s rugged outback has to offer. Amidst this, there are entries into the local show which Aggie almost always wins with her multiple award-winning jams, which are made with love and with motivational music with the promise of a cash prize and an appearance on TV with Maggie Beer, (Aggie’s idol) who will win. This year the competition is fierce. Confronting the past allows everyone the opportunity to let go and explore new possibilities which make for an exciting if not daunting future. It’s a beautiful book, which I loved, which isn’t surprising seeing as I love her writing style and character development. I strongly recommend this to everyone who likes a tale of adventure tied in with family drama and are foodies at heart. Also, I love the fact Josephine always includes a recipe or two of the main food involved in the theme. Her book covers are always so vibrant and delectable. Hirell, NSW, 5 Stars

This book was a joy to read! It is a winning combination of travel, food and a cast of strong female characters. It explores issues such as ageing, fertility, mother-daughter relationships, female friendships, grief and never being too old to start over. While Aggie begins as the central character to the story, each of the characters are well developed, you also get taken on their journeys and discover their backstories. I quickly became invested in each of the characters and hoped that they would succeed in overcoming their challenges and find happiness. Heart-breaking at times, but also a heartwarming and fun adventure – a recommended read. Holly, WA, 5 Stars

My usual genre of book is anything by Clive Cussler or John Grisham. So when someone loaned me The Tea Chest by Josephine Moon I wasn’t sure what to expect. Well … I have loved her books ever since and The Jam Queens is no exception. It is a story filled with food (who doesn’t love jam) and familiar places (I live 45mins from Angaston and the Barossa). But mostly it is about family and relationships (and we all have those) and how these are not always easy to navigate. It is an easy book to read and flows well. Josephine has a way of finishing her stories not always as you would expect. Loved it. Denise, SA, 5 Stars

I found the characters within this story took me on a journey and I felt in the moment with them. I like that in times of need people came together and the relationships portrayed were engaging. I loved that there were characters of different ages but that was no barrier to how they lived life, communicated and the friendships built. Through the ups and downs, we experienced so many emotions from heartache to love in everything in between. It enlightened hope and opportunities, where happiness was upon the horizon. Kylie, QLD, 5 Stars

Josephine Moon’s The Jam Queens is a thoroughly enjoyable book set in South Australia and the Ghan Train. The characters and places are so real that I feel like I can drive down the street and meet them. Four generations of single Champion Jam Makers have slowly drifted apart as life happens. On a journey down the centre of Australia on the Ghan Train to celebrate a Seventieth Birthday, the magic of the Northern Territory starts to work its wonders and they slowly realise that they each have a life to be lived alone by their own rules and also a life and love to be shared together. Preconceived ideas and prejudices are always a sure-fire recipe for disaster, and it comes as a shock on the occasion that we are not always right in what we say and do. Sometimes ‘helping’ is not! They also learn that it is never too late to change themselves rather than forever attempting to change everyone else, which is a true recipe for happiness sweeter than their best jam. Really enjoyed the book but felt the ending was a bit rushed. Terry, SA, 5 Stars

Aggie runs her own café in the Barossa Valley, she’s getting over a broken relationship, struggling with failed IVF rounds and on top of that her daughter, Holly, has returned home from the USA with an issue which she is refusing to talk about. Aggie’s Aunt Myrtle decides she wants to bring the family together and books for her, Aggie, Holly, her friend Dulce, and her sister (Aggie’s estranged Mum) Valeria to travel on the Ghan from Darwin to Adelaide to celebrate Valeria’s 70th. Each one of them has a different experience during the journey: one finds a new love; another rekindles an old relationship but they all face truths and secrets that they’ve been ignoring or hadn’t realised were there. This is a story of family, strong women and how we can find new opportunities in life so matter how old we are. I thoroughly enjoyed this novel not just for the story but following their journey across Australia, the author describes the country beautifully and has inspired me to travel through the red centre, maybe even travelling on The Ghan, and it certainly reminded me we should all be less critical and support each other more. Jacky, QLD, 5 Stars

“The Jam Queens” is my first Josephine Moon novel, but it won’t be my last. I have found a new favourite Australian author and will be seeking out her other titles with relish. Josephine does for Australian readers what Maeve Binchy did for Ireland and Rosamund Pilcher for Cornwall – weaves a warm-hearted tale with a delightful local flavour. “The Jam Queens” are five ladies whose stories we care about, and in whom we can see ourselves or our own loved ones. I felt sure that Myrtle was modelled on my own Great Aunt Beryl, while Holly reminded me of my niece. But there are other characters in this story too who play their role superbly, not least The Ghan Railway Journey, providing the backdrop to a story of hope and adventure; the beautiful South Australian food and wine valleys, setting the scene of comfortable and familiar life; and the unpredictable weather of our vast country, which can wreak havoc without notice. If you’re looking for a story that is unputdownable to enjoy on a lazy, rainy autumn or winter afternoon, then “The Jam Queens” is definitely one that I highly recommend. Settle in with a cuppa and a blanket, and enjoy the sweetness of old friends sharing adventures, facing life’s challenges, and emerging on the other side stronger, more resilient and with renewed energy and determination to succeed. Stephanie, NSW, 5 Stars

Jam Queens really does have everything you need right now. I was delighted with the book club notes and recipes. The story with Valeria, Aggie, Holly and Aunt Myrtle is a charming, heartwarming family drama. It’s an easy, happy, delightful read that will make you smile with the beautiful settings, believable characters, YUMMMMMMMMMM treats and interesting plot that keeps it ticking along at a good pace. Pass it on to your girlfriends and have a discussion over some sweet treats. Louise, NSW, 5 Stars

Another fantastic book by Josephine Moon. From the beginning till the end the characters kept me captivated to keep reading along with a fantastic storyline that all ages could enjoy. The way the trip on The Ghan is described has made me want to add it to my bucket list to experience some of the magic that the ladies did in the book. Would definitely recommend it to others to read. Renee, VIC, 5 Stars

The Jam Queen’s and this novel did not disappoint. At nearly 400 pages, I read it well into the night two nights running because I just had to know how this group of five women (Dolce being an honourary family member), faired from their trip away together. With secrets galore, clashing and challenging personalities, traumas, romance and more this made for a fabulous read. Josephine manages to cover several topical issues, IVF, grief, transgender issues, still-birth, US shootings and a few others, but they all fill this story in a very organic way. The personalities of Great Aunt Myrtle, Valeria, Holly, Dolce and Aggie were all so different, some more likeable than others, and they all had lessons to learn and demons to slay if they wanted to move on with their lives. I absolutely enjoyed this novel and the Ghan trip through the outback definitely put itself firmly onto my bucket list. Claire, WA, 5 Stars

‘The Jam Queens’, by Josephine Moon, is a delightful, heart-warming read. Four women, belonging to the four generations of a family, embark on an adventure and seventieth birthday celebration on the Ghan. Whilst these women are close they each have a secret, and the epic train journey enables them to reunite and establish the individual ingredients that will allow them to focus on what brings them joy, and in some cases, what will provide them with an award-winning jam. Moon’s exquisite imagery transports the reader from the Barossa Valley, in South Australia, to the breathtaking scenery of Darwin, in the Northern Territory. The reader becomes quickly attached to the sticky predicaments of these four women, Aggie, Valeria, Holly and Myrtle, and Moon’s delightful sensory descriptions of jams and desserts makes the whole novel all that much sweeter. Give ‘The Jam Queens’ a read if you love being swept away on an adventure with a dash of family drama – a fantastic way to escape with a cuppa and something delicious. Genene, SA, 5 Stars

Josephine Moon has written a gorgeous book that takes you through the lives of 4 generations of women that is delightfully relatable. I can easily see parallels in how my sisters, mum and grandmothers interact, none of us are perfect and we all come with baggage! I love that the narrator changes to show the story from the most relevant viewpoint. It gives an insight into the characters feelings and viewpoint which is often quite different from the other characters understanding. I also love that the characters are based in the Adelaide Hills and take us on a journey through some iconic Australian locations. You really feel like a fly on the wall. Highly recommended. Mary, SA, 5 Stars

The Jam Queens are four generations of women who are strong, vulnerable, flawed and highly relatable. They take us on a journey exploring the beautiful Australian outback and so much more. I thoroughly recommend you settle down with a warm cup of tea and enjoy the Jam Queens. It does not disappoint. Joanna, VIC, 4 Stars

The Jam Queens by Josephine Moon is an easy-to-read narrative about four generations of women each with their own stories and secrets. The book centres on Aggie, the new owner of a small café in the Barossa Valley, who is hoping that focusing on growing her business will help her to forget the tragedies of her past. To celebrate her mother, Valeria’s, seventieth birthday, Aggie joins her on an adventure touring Australia on the Ghan. Travelling with them are her daughter, Holly, who has recently taken a break from her teaching job in America; Myrtle, Aggie’s adventurous great aunt; and Dolce, Myrtle’s long time travel buddy. As the trip progresses, we learn more about each of the women, the lives they have led and the lives they will be returning to. Moon captures the complicated relationships that exist between the women beautifully. Showing the story from the differing points of view allows the reader to see into the minds of the characters and gives an insight into why they behave the way they do. It is a warm and uplifting story that reminds us of the importance of friends and family throughout the most trying times of our lives. Mary-Jo, VIC, 4 Stars

An enjoyable read featuring four generations of women. There were family dramas and difficult relationships which seemed very realistic. The Ghan train trip, Barossa Valley setting and jam making made the story something unusual. I would recommend the Jam Queens to friends and it’s a great book for Mother’s Day. Julie, NSW, 4 Stars

The Jam Queens is an enjoyable read about 4 generations of women born in the Barossa Valley. When they head off on a holiday on the Ghan – each women hiding their own secret heartache – it seems inevitable that before long the confines of the train will precipitate some tense reactions and difficult conversations. I enjoyed the imagery created by the author’s rich descriptions and the main characters were very likeable. A perfect book to snuggle up with on a cold winter’s afternoon. It’ll make you laugh, it’ll make you cry – and it might make you want to book your own trip on the Ghan and visit the Barossa Valley (or take up jam making!). But it is ultimately a heart-warming and uplifting read that will provide some much-needed escapism from our stressful world. Kylie, WA, 4 Stars

Five women spanning four generations take a trip together on the Ghan hoping to smooth over old hurts and reconnect. I really enjoyed the armchair travel on the Ghan and all the touristy day outings the characters embark on. Josephine Moon has included many topical issues spread between the women and many of these start out as little mysteries, so no spoilers here. Aggie has the most on her plate. A rift to try and repair with her mother, a business that has an untimely problem, a daughter that has become closed off and a moral dilemma that can’t be put off any longer. However all Aggie’s good intentions are waylaid when she meets the handsome, and much younger, Harry and spends the trip sightseeing with him. The story is told through three narratives giving the reader a good insight into these characters’ inner thoughts and feelings about themselves and each other. Through backstory, we get to know more about the formation of the characters’ current relationships. The train journey ends up being more of a soul searching trip than a bonding session. The Jam Queens is sure to be popular amongst contemporary fiction readers with messages of resilience, family and love, plus an assured happy ending. 3.5 stars. Veronica, NSW, 4 Stars

The triumphs and trials of the family of Jam Queens remind us that love triumphs over all when we turn the spoiled fruit life throws at us into jam. Kirralee, SA, 4 Stars

The Jam Queens is a heartwarming read, a lovely story of four generations of women, all travelling on the Ghan for a holiday. Typical of most families, there are some differences of opinion, and as the reader, I found myself cheering for a character at times, and wanting to slap one at others. This book is a fun read, so grab a cup of tea and a jam drop, and curl up in front of the fire to enjoy it. Karen, VIC, 4 Stars

The Jam Queens is the latest offering by Queensland author Josephine Moon and I thoroughly enjoyed it! There are 4 generations of women on this train and as expected there are ups and downs with them all, some find love, some find happiness and I was transported along with them and felt like I was on The Ghan myself! The author did a marvellous job of describing what the train trip would have been like and the scenery and countryside around it. The subject of Jam making comes up as well, with Aggie being almost promised that she will win the competition this year, but will her mother let her when an opportunity to meet her idol Maggie Beer is part of the winner’s reward. A bonus recipe for prize-winning Strawberry Jam is also included at the end of this book! I love Jo’s books with the underlying foodie theme within each one. Another book which readers of Women’s Fiction and family stories will love. Janine, VIC, 4 Stars

The Jam Queens by Josephine Moon was the first I had read by this author. It told the story of 4 generations of women from the same family. Aggie and her mother, Valeria, have a strained relationship but Valeria is about to turn 70 and Aggie and Valeria’s aunt Myrtle decides to surprise Valeria with a trip on the Ghan. Aggie’s daughter, Holly, is home visiting from America so the 4 women enjoy a wonderful, adventure-filled train trip with lots of secrets and true feelings unveiled along the way. I enjoyed the descriptions of the Ghan and the tours they took in Darwin. Clearly, Moon had taken this journey herself to have such realistic depictions of the surroundings and certainly helped transport me there too. The relationships between the women were complex and interesting. All characters were flawed and it was an enjoyable dynamic. The topic of IVF and subsequent challenges involved were written sensitively and emotionally and I felt close to tears at times. All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed this book and felt quite invested in their journey and challenges. Karlie, SA, 4 Stars

I defy anyone not to feel like a jam biscuit after setting eyes on Josephine Moon’s latest novel, The Jam Queens! This is a story as sweet as its cover, but it’s the sticky subplots that hook you in. Aggie is our leading lady. Aggie is 45 years old. She had her daughter, Holly, at age 16. Her conservative mother kicked her out of home and she was taken in by her great-aunt Myrtle, who has been there for her through thick and thin. The four generations of women are now on a train adventure to celebrate her mother’s 70th birthday. That train ride takes a few unexpected turns, some of which threaten to derail Aggie’s stable life. Back home her business is being destroyed by floods and the facility storing her embryos needs her and her ex to decide what to do with them. All of this at the same time that she falls in love with a fellow traveller 10 years her junior. This is a story about family and how easily generational differences can divide them. But it’s also a story about how precious life is, told through the eyes of each of the characters, which – for me – was the most satisfying ingredient in this recipe for happiness. I enjoyed getting to know them all. If only we could all have a Myrtle in our corner! Eynas, SA, 3 Stars

Not my kind of book but I did enjoy reading it. The characters were engaging and I enjoyed the flow of the story. This is my first novel by this author but I definitely felt that it was aimed towards an older audience. That being said, well done. Kirstie, WA, 3 Stars

I have read several other books by this author and usually enjoy the easy writing style but found this book to be flat and one dimensional. The characters did not grab me quickly enough to find interesting and I ended up scanning most of the book just to get through. Susan, VIC, 2 Stars

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          Publisher details

          The Jam Queens
          Author
          Josephine Moon
          Publisher
          Penguin
          Genre
          Fiction
          Released
          13 April, 2021

          Synopsis

          Award-winning jam maker Aggie is determined to take her Barossa Valley cafe to new heights. She has put the pain of unsuccessful IVF treatments and a broken relationship behind her and is focused on the many wonderful possibilities life still holds in store. When an invitation to travel across Australia on the Ghan for her mother’s seventieth birthday comes her way, she is at first apprehensive. But the trip offers a precious opportunity to spend some quality time with both her disgruntled mother, Valeria, and her distant daughter, Holly, as well as her meddling great-aunt, Myrtle. The four generations of the family, all single women, will be reunited at last. As the iconic train chugs its way beneath majestic desert skies, Aggie’s difficult past resurfaces, her business comes under threat, and long-held family rifts reignite. To complicate things further, she’s distracted by the attentions of a handsome younger man on his own search for meaning in some of the country’s most remote and magical places. By the bestselling author of The Cake Maker’s Wish, this is a sweet and soulful story about women being there for each other through the stickiest situations. It celebrates the joys and sorrows of life and reveals the essential ingredients of the true recipe for happiness.
          Josephine Moon
          About the author

          Josephine Moon

          Josephine Moon was born and raised in Brisbane and had a false start in Environmental Science before completing a Bachelor of Arts in Communication and then a postgraduate degree in education. Twelve years and ten manuscripts later, her first novel The Tea Chest was picked up for publication and then shortlisted for an ABIA award. Her bestselling contemporary fiction is published internationally. Her books include The Tea Chest, The Chocolate PromiseThe Beekeepers SecretThree Gold Coins, The Gift of Life, The Cake Maker's Wish and The Jam Queens. In 2018, Josephine organised the ‘Authors for Farmers’ appeal, raising money to assist drought-affected farming communities. She is passionate about literacy, and is a proud sponsor of Story Dogs and The Smith Family. She now lives on acreage in the beautiful Noosa hinterland with her husband and son, and a tribe of animals that seems to increase in size each year. She wouldn't have it any other way.

          Books by Josephine Moon

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