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The Jam Queens

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The heartwarming new family drama from the bestselling author of The Cake Maker's Wish

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.

400 pages, Paperback

Published April 13, 2021

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About the author

Josephine Moon

11 books319 followers
Hello! I live in the Noosa hinterland in Australia and now have the great pleasure of writing warm-hearted, feel good, contemporary fiction books for a living. I am Autistic and ADHD. I am published in Australia, NZ, UK, Ireland, Norway, Greece and Germany. I'm so grateful to everyone who buys and reads my books. Thank you!

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 125 reviews
Profile Image for Gloria (Ms. G's Bookshelf).
590 reviews126 followers
April 26, 2021
⭐️5 Stars⭐️
The Jam Queens by Josephine Moon is a captivating, original and heartwarming story. Pour yourself a cup of tea, grab a jam drop, turn off the phone, get comfy and experience how the author takes you on a wonderfully delightful journey brimming with family drama, hidden secrets, disasters and delicious food!

From the moment I starting reading through the pages I felt a sense of adventure, there is never a dull moment in the story. The characters are brilliantly portrayed and relatable. I think I loved each and every character, even Valeria!

Award winning jam maker Aggie owns a small cafe in the Barossa, she is currently single after a heart wrenching broken relationship and unsuccessful IVF treatments. Her mother is soon turning seventy and the opportunity arises to take a trip on the Ghan railway to celebrate the occasion with her daughter Holly, who has been residing overseas, her angsty mother Valeria and her great-aunt Myrtle. Four generations of family, all single women are about to embark on a journey on the iconic train through Northern Territory’s Red Centre of remote outback Australia. Myrtle’s regular travelling companion and dear family friend Dolce has also received an invite.

There are complications aplenty on the trip, men, business issues, meddling and family rifts. It was so easy to visualise the story in my head and find myself on that train!

Icon Highlights - the Legendary Ghan Train, Maggie Beer, Adelaide Royal Show, The Barossa Valley & Uluru!

I really adored this sweet book, it has such a good feel about it! I can’t wait to try out the Jamtini cocktails mentioned in the story, they sounded so delicious! Highly recommended read.

Publication Date 13th April 2021

I wish to thank Penguin Books Australia for an advanced copy of the book
Profile Image for Brenda.
4,094 reviews2,663 followers
April 14, 2021
What a wonderful, heartwarming novel! Australian author Josephine Moon has hit another winner with The Jam Queens!

Set in the Barossa Valley in South Australia, just north of Adelaide, Aggie ran the Strawberry Sonnet, a sweet café which was popular with locals and tourists alike. Aggie, her mother Valeria, Myrtle and Dolce were all good cooks, while Aggie and Valeria entered their jams in the Royal Adelaide Show each year. Aggie’s daughter Holly lived and worked in the US but was home on holidays when Aggie received the phone call which told her Valeria had had a stroke. With her recovery, and her 70th birthday approaching, a plan was formed – five single women on the Ghan, travelling from Darwin to Adelaide and celebrating the 70th along the way…

Will these women all get along though? Cramped as they would be in the compact cabins, dining together for meals, touring to various places – Valeria and Aggie hadn’t seen eye to eye for some time. Myrtle was a kindhearted soul who loved to ‘fix’ things. And Dolce and Holly obviously had things on their minds; things they weren’t willing to share. With Aggie’s past grief again in the spotlight and Valeria doing her best to coerce her daughter into doing what 'Mum thought was best', the secrets were threatening to bring the special, once in a lifetime trip undone. What would happen as the Ghan rattled its way across the red dusty plains to Katherine, Alice Springs, Coober Pedy and beyond?

The Jam Queens by Josephine Moon was an outstanding, unique and captivating story of five strong women who would do anything for those they loved. A sweet story – oh the jams!! (and the recipe at the end – yum!!) – which had moments of grief and moments of sheer joy. The journey on the Ghan is one I've wanted to do myself - maybe I will! I’ve loved this author’s previous works and this one didn’t disappoint. Very highly recommended.

With thanks to Penguin Random House AU for my Uncorrected Proof ARC to read in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Sharon.
986 reviews195 followers
September 20, 2021
The Jam Queens by Australian author Josephine Moon takes place in the Barossa Valley in South Australia.
Who couldn’t resist reading a book with a beautiful cover like this. This book was a delight to read and I definitely didn't want it to end.

A truly wonderful story of love, family and friendships. I absolutely loved and really enjoyed reading this book and have no hesitation in strongly recommending it to anyone looking for their next book to read.

Profile Image for Josephine Moon.
Author 11 books319 followers
February 11, 2021
In writing The Jam Queens, I had the chance to travel to the beautiful Barossa Valley to research Aggie's family's home town and to visit my foodie crush Maggie Beer's Farm Shop and eat her amazing food. I also got to travel on the world famous Ghan railway, travelling from the top of Australia to the very bottom, through the heart of our country. On this trip, I travelled with my sister, Amanda, and we had the most fabulous time. If you get the chance, I highly recommend you do the same! In The Jam Queens you will find a multi-generational story filled with drama, love and food, as well as the added joy of vicariously travelling on the iconic Ghan railway. This is a book to curl up with while enjoying a cuppa and a jam drop or two. I hope you love it. Jo x
October 24, 2021

**4.5 stars**

The Jam Queens by Josephine Moon. (2021).

Award-winning jam maker Angie is determined to take her cafe to new heights after the pain of unsuccessful IVF cycles and a broken relationship. For her mother Valeria's 70th birthday, she is going on a trip across Australia on the Ghan with disgruntled Valeria, Aggie's distant adult daughter Holly and her meddling great-aunt Myrtle. The 4 generations of the family, all single women, reunited at last. As the train chugs along, Aggie's difficult past resurfaces, her business comes under threat, and family rifts reignite. An added complication is her attraction to the handsome, and younger, Harry who is also on the train...

This is the third novel I've read from this author, and they just keep getting better and better. I read this in one day, and was totally absorbed by the narrative. The story is primarily from Aggie's point of view, but also alternates between Valeria and Myrtle's perspectives. I loved the realism of the book - it's clear that these women love and want to support each other, but that doesn't mean they agree with one another on everything and that leads to some family dramas. Each woman has her own past trauma/troubles which are bought to the surface on this intimate trip. The Ghan journey sounded like an amazing, albeit expensive, experience; some of the activities and scenery described just seemed incredible.
Overall: a fabulous Australian contemporary domestic drama featuring light romance, I happily recommend this one.
Sidenote: I kind of wanted to make jam while reading this book, but it still sounds way too hard for me hahaha.
Profile Image for Veronica ⭐️.
970 reviews194 followers
April 18, 2021
3.5 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 embarked 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.

I personally felt there were too many topical themes introduced and most of them weren’t fully explored which made their inclusion come across as somewhat contrived. For me, the exploration of the family’s disconnect and the IVF theme would have been enough to hold my interest.

The Jam Queens is sure to be popular amongst contemporary fiction readers with messages of resilience, family and love, plus an assured happy ending.
Profile Image for Helen.
2,221 reviews12 followers
April 5, 2021
Another awesome story from Josephine Moon filled with women from a strong family, a family that also needs to work through a few problems all while making me want to taste the beautiful jams these Queens are making. This story had me from page one as we get to know Aggie, Myrtle, Valeria, Holly and Dolce and take a trip on the Ghan, sit back and enjoy this fabulous story because you will not want to put it down.

Aggie runs a small café Strawberry Sonnets in the Barossa Valley in South Australia, her hope is one day that she will buy it from her Great Aunt Myrtle and own it herself, she has a strained relationship with her mother Valeria but is thrilled that at the moment her daughter Holly is home from her teacher position in The States and Myrtle’s best friend Dolce make up this fabulous group of woman.

Aggie has been through a rough patch lately enduring unsuccessful IVF treatments that played a part in her ended relationship, she is making jam for the next Adelaide show when she receives a phone call that her mother is in hospital they have not been on speaking terms for a while but she runs to help and with Valeria’s seventieth birthday coming up Myrtle organises a trip from Darwin to Adelaide on the famous Ghan train for them all, Aggie is unsure at first but is hoping that being together will bring her mother closer.

As the train travels through desert, greenery and beautiful skies these woman have things from their past the come to the surface and there is a lot of opening up not always making each other happy, emotions run high and feelings are hurt, for Aggie there are problems for her café at home and the attraction she feels to a fellow passenger Harry on the train and the worry about her daughter Holly makes for a very interesting trip.

This is such a great story, taking in family and the ups and downs they go through, it was emotional and moving and I thought Aggies was so lovely inside and out, she is caring and strong after all that she has been through and I loved Myrtle and Dolce what a team and Holly shows such strength and the Valeria set in her ways and stubborn but not too old to learn. This is a story that I highly recommend beautifully written, heartwarming and a page turner, and the food side is again so very good and yummy and I must have a Jamtini cocktail one day. I must also say that the train trip I loved so much MS Moon made me feel like I was travelling and visiting the towns along the way. This one is another keeper.

My thanks to Penguin AUS for my ARC to read and review
Profile Image for Amanda - Mrs B's Book Reviews.
1,912 reviews270 followers
May 26, 2021

4.5 stars

‘They should teach this at school,’ she said, absent-mindedly.


‘How to make jam,’ Valeria said, returning to her notes. ‘There are so many life lessons in jam making.’

Australia’s most loved food fiction queen returns with another delightful tale that readers can revel in. The Jam Queens heralds another delectable reading experience for fans old and new of Josephine Moon’s work. A generational tale that entails adventure, relationships, secrets and the past, The Jam Queens is a expressive story that is easy to embrace.

Moving on from cakes to jam, Josephine Moon’s new novel takes a close look at the work of a jam maker. We meet Aggie, a woman who has had a number of upsetting setbacks in her life, yet she is still passionately committed to her Barossa Valley café. To mark Aggie’s mother Valeria’s milestone seventieth birthday, Valeria is taking a trip on the Ghan, travelling overland by train to see some of Australia’s most spectacular sites. Aggie accompanies her mother on this trip with some hesitation and doubts. Joining mother and daughter on this journey are Holly and Myrtle, two other relatives, who hope that the experience will work as a bonding experience. But no sooner has the train left the station when problems bubble quickly to the surface. From past hurts, upsetting memories, business issues and unresolved family issues, this will be one difficult journey. Aggie then finds this trip further compromised by her attraction to a stranger she encounters on her life changing adventure. Will this man help Aggie to overcome her setbacks? A story of unconditional support, communication, working through problems and celebrating the small things in life, The Jam Queens is a tribute to the challenges of modern living.

Once again Josephine Moon treats her readers to a story that will warm your heart as you are welcomed into the fold of the female foursome featured in The Jam Queens. A novel with its own unique blend, that should be relished slowly and with care, The Jam Queens is a generous read from a perceptive writer.

Firstly, I loved the overarching theme of jam making that runs through this new novel from Josephine Moon. I’ve been following the author’s jam making adventures on social media and I have to say, I have been anticipating this book for some time. Moon’s implicit and passionate understanding of the jam making trade is expressed with complete ease on the pages of this novel. I really enjoyed this deep insight into a form of business and amazing craft that I had little knowledge of prior to beginning my journey with The Jam Queens. Foodie fiction lovers will adore this element of the story.

Moon’s characters are a great bunch. There are some big personalities and vibrant souls that populate the pages of The Jam Queens. While some figures are very likeable and easy to connect to, others were less appealing! However, Moon uses her wide-ranging cast and their differences to her full advantage. We have some very emotive interactions that take place during the course of the story, which helps to keep the reader fully engaged in the tale at hand.

Moon doesn’t shy away from including some serious topic points in her novel. From gut wrenching secrets and past hurts, to relationship breakdowns, Moon has it covered. There were definitely some upsetting issues in The Jam Queens, but I think Moon did a good job of presenting these topic areas with an air of sensitivity, compassion and understanding. The IVF story thread helps us to see that Moon is a storyteller who feels and is able to expresses the right emotions in regards to this difficult to approach subject areas. The Jam Queens is quite a universal tale and Moon has the ability to reach out to her readers with genuine ease.

My final word and nod to Josephine Moon’s writing is the fantastic travel log that The Jam Queens presents. I know many of us would dream of taking an overland train adventure on the Ghan. It is a journey I hope to take one day in the future, when finances and time allow me to take on this amazing experience. In the meantime, it was nice to indulge in a page-based holiday, trekking through some wonderful Australian sites around our top end and red centre. I was quite jealous of the characters in Moon’s novel, the cast got to experience some breathtaking spots. I would happily to do way with the squabbles and emotional issues though!

Pack your suitcase for an unforgettable trip, but don’t forget the jam! Be prepared to embark on an eventful journey with Aggie and her family on a life changing adventure. The Jam Queens is a tale that any kind of reader can clinch.

*I wish to thank Penguin Books Australia for providing me with a free copy of this book for review purposes.

The Jam Queens is book #46 of the 2021 Australian Women Writers Challenge
Profile Image for Marianne.
3,393 reviews142 followers
March 9, 2021
The Jam Queens is the seventh novel by Australian author, Josephine Moon. As a seventieth birthday gift to her niece, Myrtle, ever magnanimous, treats the Hermann women, Valeria, Aggie and Holly, to a trip on the Ghan. Myrtle’s regular travelling companion Dolce is, after over fifty years of friendship, an honorary member of the family, but still pays her own way. Five strong, smart, independent women who love each other, together on a plane, train and bus trips: what could go wrong?

Of Aggie’s recent resolutions, one, taking over ownership of the Strawberry Sonnet café from Myrtle, has already been enacted, and the second, improving relations with Valeria, she hopes to work on during the trip. She also hopes to find out what is troubling her daughter, Holly before she returns to America: there’s a disturbing disconnect in their usual good rapport. And the decision she and her ex have to make is a serious one she needs time to consider fully.

Being distracted by the gorgeous Harry Lyon isn’t part of the plan. Nor is the short notice and the caution of a huge fine from an officious council bureaucrat, or the deluge that threatens the café.

Valeria, recently recovered from a TIA, is less enthusiastic than expected with her birthday surprise, believing the women are motivated by the idea “that a blood vessel could snap in her head and kill her at any moment” and a need to prove their love for her before it’s too late.

Always conscious of appearances, Valeria can be judgemental and fractious, finding it difficult to hide her disapproval: almost thirty years earlier, that disapproval, intended to force her daughter into responsibility, caused a rift with Agatha into which Myrtle stepped with love and generosity.

Thereafter, relations between them have often been tense and sometimes volatile, and as Valeria catches sight of Aggie’s flirtation with a younger man, she can’t hold back: too much is at stake.

As seasoned travel companions, Myrtle and Dolce often share the same views, so Myrtle is dismayed when Dolce voices criticism of her characteristic (but mostly benign) meddling, and then shocked and a little hurt when Dolce makes a surprise announcement detailing an ambitious (and previously undisclosed to Myrtle) plan.

Moon easily evokes her settings: the Barossa Valley, The Ghan, Northern Territory and Darwin, and ought to receive a kick-back from the tourist boards: there’s bound to be an uptick in bookings! Her characters will feel familiar, the sort of people we encounter every day, especially those family members who firmly believe they know what is best for their loved ones.

There’s a lot going on in Aggie’s life, presenting her with several issues to resolve which, just as in real life, don’t conveniently allow a person to deal with one challenge at a time: sometimes life throws an overwhelming load of trials onto our shoulders.

The story is carried by three narratives, enhanced by a few flashbacks, and illustrates what can happen in the microcosm of a vacation setting, where forced interactions can distil the emotions to boiling point. Moon touches on transgender issues; the agony of stillbirth; the dilemma of deciding the fate of frozen embryos; a gob-smacking safety drill in US schools; and aged care. Of course, love, loyalty, friendship and a blue-ribbon-winning strawberry jam recipe also feature in this heart-warming and uplifting tale.
This unbiased review is from an uncorrected proof copy provided by Penguin Books Australia.
Profile Image for Theresa Smith.
Author 5 books163 followers
April 21, 2021
This was pure magic. Like food for your soul. There’s so much in this book that I could relate to and I absolutely loved the overarching theme of hope that was ever-present throughout. I cried, I laughed, I drooled over the delicious descriptions of the jams, from the standard flavours through to the more unusual combinations. I’m a bit of a fancy jam fan and some of these I’d love to try. I really loved how jam was added to drinks and other types of food I wouldn’t normally think to add jam to. Very inspiring!

There were many parts of this story that reached right into my consciousness, but this part right here about parenting: absolutely yes. I feel this so often with each of my teenagers. Much of the story orbits around motherhood and mother figures, it was so insightful and deeply moving at times too.

‘Oh, everyone went on about how difficult the early years of motherhood were – the exhaustion, the sleeplessness, the breastfeeding woes, the lack of personal space and time. But in so many ways, those days were easier. Her daughter had loved her then. Valeria had been Agatha’s moon and sun and stars. Her daughter had believed what she’d had to say, unquestioning. It was later that her child had caused her to lie awake all night for entirely different reasons. It was later that she’d seen all the faults of her mothering in front of her face. Agatha had become a mirror for all her failures.’

I particularly enjoyed the trip the characters took on the Ghan. I’ve always been intrigued by that train trip and I was able to revisit Uluru through the pages of this novel – such a majestic and special place that Josephine captured to perfection. The entire Ghan trip was written with so much atmosphere, I honestly felt like I was taking the trip along with the characters, it was all so vividly realised.

This is a gorgeous story that will stay with you long after you’ve turned the last page. It’s coming up to Mother’s Day and you won’t find a better book than this to give as a gift.

Inspired by The Jam Queens, I recreated Aggie’s special hot chocolate, with Baileys and raspberry jam. It was divine!

Thanks is extended to Penguin Random House Australia for providing me with a copy of The Jam Queens for review.
Profile Image for Natalie M.
1,057 reviews32 followers
July 7, 2021
Exactly as described by the author: warm-hearted, feel-good, contemporary reading!

Australian author Josephine Moon sets 'The Jam Queens' in the Barossa Valley in South Australia, just north of Adelaide. Aggie runs the Strawberry Sonnet, a sweet café. Her mother, Valeria, and aunts Myrtle and Dolce are all great cooks. They enter their jams in the Royal Adelaide Show each year. Aggie’s daughter, Holly, is home from the US, where she works as a teacher.

A phone call changes everything; Valeria has had a stroke (and is about to turn 70). From there, a plan is hatched, and the five single women embark on a bucket-list trip - travelling from Darwin to Adelaide on The Ghan…

Confined spaces make for great stories! Compact cabins, what meals to share and where to visit bring some real humour to the story. It is so believably written! Myrtle is a lovely 'fixer of all dramas'. Dolce and Holly are burdened and unwilling to share. Aggie’s grief is in the spotlight, and Valeria ...well, just read the book - typical mum!

Just loved this story! Different, fascinating and I didn't want The Jam Queens to end. Awesome strong female characters, and the only abundant sweetness is in the food (and the need to go and bake at the end)! Highly recommend.
Profile Image for Shelleyrae at Book'd Out.
2,456 reviews513 followers
April 25, 2021
A sweet novel to savour, The Jam Queens is the seventh charming contemporary fiction novel from Australian author Josephine Moon.

A year after the collapse of her marriage following a devastating loss, Agatha has decided to focus on growing her business, a cafe in the Barossa Valley which features the prizewinning jams Aggie, and the women in her family, are known for. The news that her Great Aunt Myrtle has sold Agatha the building in which Strawberry Sonnets operates is likely to upset Aggie’s mother, Valeria, and in order to both soften the blow, and celebrate Valeria’s seventieth birthday in the wake of a health scare, Myrtle has decided that the three women, along with Aggie’s adult daughter Holly, home on vacation from the US where she works as a teacher, and Myrtle’s best friend and erstwhile traveling companion, Dolce, will take a trip on The Ghan.

Unfolding primarily from the perspectives of Aggie, Myrtle and Valeria, Moon tells a story of family, regret, friendship, loss, and love as the group of women travel from Darwin to Adelaide aboard the famous overland train.

Aggie serves as the central character of the story. She has had a very difficult year and she’s hoping the trip will give her clarity on how to move forward with her life. She’s a very likeable character, who exhibits fortitude and kindness in the face of very trying circumstances. Myrtle is a delight, spirited and generous, if a little bit meddlesome. Both Aggie and her Great Aunt Myrtle hope the journey will help heal their fraught relationship with the uncompromising Valeria, but the complicated history between the trio is not easy to reconcile.

The story is quite busy, as in addition to the secrets and burdens the individual characters carry, and the fraught dynamics of their old, and new, relationships, there are also other important elements. One naturally involves the actual journey on The Ghan and the side excursions enjoyed by the group to places like Uluru and Katherine (Nitmiluk) George, all well described by Moon. Another centres around the role of jam-making in the family, and Aggie’s hopes of winning first place at the Adelaide Royal Show. Foodies will love the delicious recipes contained in the book, including one for Moon’s own blue ribbon winning strawberry jam.

Ripe with drama, romance, travel and food, The Jam Queens is a treat not to be missed.
Profile Image for Jenn.
207 reviews1 follower
June 26, 2021
Solid 3.5 star but feeling generous so bumped up to 4. Read on the plane. So many nice memories of being on The Ghan with my son. He was 9 at the time so my experience is a little different to this one.

I enjoyed the setting and the characters. But this book has one of my least favourite things in these chocolatey books which is when a lot of interesting well written story threads are tied up abruptly and sweetly in one chapter and they lived happily ever after. Not that I wanted other than a happily ever after, I just wanted something more satisfying - after making Valeria a thoroughly unlikeable character I just wanted there to be some sort of character arc. The way it played out was very sweet but ultimately unsatisfying for me. More of a back story or denouement or something to just take away her unpleasantness.

I don't care that much about books I didn't feel invested in.
Profile Image for Chryssie.
202 reviews21 followers
February 28, 2021
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 heart aches, 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.
Profile Image for Claire Louisa.
1,542 reviews92 followers
April 9, 2021
I thoroughly enjoyed Josephine Moon's previous novel The Cake Maker's Wish, so I was thrilled to receive a copy of her new novel 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 really liked Harry, the younger man who is also taking a trip on the Ghan at the same time as Aggies and her family, there was something about him that drew me to him, I can understand the pull Aggie felt towards him when she first saw him and then actually met him. I really enjoyed the relationship between the two and held onto hope all the way to the end that things would work between them and it wouldn't just be a fleeting romance. There was so much going on in Aggie's life though, that I couldn't be sure that my hopes would be met. 

I wasn't a fan of Valeria, Aggie's mother, though I did feel sorry for her at times, to be that judgemental towards people would take a great deal of effort I imagine. Great Aunt Myrtle was a great character and I enjoyed her interactions with everyone. 

Jam making was an interesting topic to learn about and I loved how much love they poured into the making of it. I was surprised at the passion and competitiveness between the family members, especially Valeria. 

I absolutely enjoyed this novel and the Ghan trip through the outback definitely put itself firmly onto my bucket list.

Thanks to Better Reading Previews for a copy of this novel in return for an honest review. 
Profile Image for Tracey Anderson.
223 reviews52 followers
April 14, 2021
The Jam Queens is both heartbreaking and heartwarming. When Myrtle the matriarch of the family decides to treat her niece Valeria and and the rest of the family to a trip on the Ghan for Valeria’s 70th birthday it’s hoped that it will bring them all closer. Along for the ride is Myrtle’s best friend Dolce. To say there is tension between the different generations is an understatement and with such close quarters it’s not long before things start to go down hill. I loved the multiple POV’s but was disappointed that the youngest of them didn’t have one because it was clear that something was going on with her. But on learning her secret I can understand why she didn’t get one. I loved everything about the journey on the Ghan through the centre of the country. It was most as good as being there in person. This was my first novel by Josephine Moon but definitely not my last.
Profile Image for Diane.
448 reviews7 followers
May 2, 2021
Once again a very delightful read from Josephine Moon. Five very different women, four of them family, on a trip on The Ghan. Some years ago, a friend and I took the journey from Sydney to Perth on the Indian Pacific. I can't say it was anything like the trip these women did, but to us it was all a huge adventure and we loved it! Interwoven in Josephine's train adventure are some very serious matters that are thought provoking and life changing. I highly recommend this story to other readers. Thank you Josephine Moon.
Profile Image for Craig / Phil.
1,301 reviews51 followers
March 29, 2021
Thank you Penguin for sending us a copy to read and review.
Josephine returns with another addictive family drama and the underlying food theme, you can almost smell the delicious aroma of bubbling jam.
Agatha runs a small cafe and dreams of taking it over from her aunt.
As her mother’s seventieth birthday approaches her meddling Aunt Myrtle decides to treat Agatha, her daughter Holly and birthday girl Valeria to a trip on The Ghan.
Myrtle’s decades long friendship with Dolce, a honorary member of the family also joins the women on the holiday.
As the train travels through the red dust, long clutched rifts, new secrets, the past and love all come up while they are all together.
As the ladies vacation they have plenty of baggage to unpack.
A fresh and inventive heartwarming story and like all of Josephine books it’s based around food, this one being jam.
A big dollop of soul, a serve of charm, a sprinkle of happy and a pinch of sad and spice all make this a flavourful read.
A cosy tale to wrap around your heart and a organic flow storytelling to keep you spellbound.
Read it with some jam inspired recipes, savour every bite and enjoy.
A animated entertaining read that looks at family, life and relationships and another tasty treat from the bestselling Australian author.
Profile Image for Maya Linnell.
Author 5 books130 followers
May 19, 2021
I really enjoy Josephine Moon's writing style and had no trouble transporting myself to the Barossa for this foodie-fiction tale, featuring around a family of jam makers. Having never been on the Ghan before, I loved joining the characters on their holiday too and could almost feel myself sitting in the train carriages with the bumps and clinking cutlery, the shared dining tables and the narrow bunks. Josephine doesn't hesitate to tackle tough topics, and I came away with a new perspective on several issues. Can highly recommend the jam recipe in the back of the book too, best strawberry jam I've made yet! Thanks to Penguin Random House for my advance copy.
Profile Image for Carolyn.
278 reviews
September 1, 2021
The Jam Queens by Josephine Moon is a really good, fun light-hearted read.

I really enjoyed it exploring the Barossa Valley, Maggie Beers Farmshop and the characters which make up the story and their train Trip on The Ghan which goes from Adelaide to Darwin where the Australian soil changes colour to various shades of yellow and gold to orange and red ochre with a subtle romance or two thrown in here and there to make the journey memorable and complete.

The Jam Queens is really worth reading and delves into various forms of Jam making.

Tucked away at the back of this book is Josephine Moon's Royal Brisbane Show blue-ribbon-strawberry Jam recipe which is really worth trying!
Profile Image for Anna Loder.
500 reviews11 followers
September 6, 2022
I have just finished and immediately want to start drinking jam wine on the way to a trip on the Ghan! Absolutely loved it! You so wouldn’t believe all the issues such a prettily told story could make you think about! It’s also the first time I have really appreciated people see how hard the cafe business is! Loved it 💕
Profile Image for Bree T.
2,101 reviews88 followers
June 23, 2021
I’ve read and enjoyed Josephine Moon before and I was really drawn to this book for lots of reasons. I thought the cover was very eye-catching and the title seemed fun as well. But it was reading that part of it would take place on The Ghan, the train journey that traverses Adelaide – Darwin through the middle of Australia going north/south that made me know I had to read it. I’ve always wanted to do a trip on The Ghan. I’ve mentioned before on here that I really like trains, I find them relaxing and I can read on them, which I cannot do in a car. I’ve done quite a few relatively decent length train trips before, but nothing like The Ghan, which takes 3 days or the Indian-Pacific, which traverses the country east/west and takes about 4 days. Both are bucket list items for me but they are quite pricey – you could easily book a holiday for a few weeks somewhere luxurious for the same amount. But one day, I’d love to do them, just for the sheer experience and being able to see so many different types of landscapes that we have here, up close.

In this book, four members of the same family plus a friend, undertake the journey. Aggie is in her late 40s and has had a fractured relationship with her mother Valeria since she got pregnant as a teenager and Valeria was anything but supportive. She was offered safe haven with an aunt and Aggie is far closer to her than she is to her own mother. Aggie has just arranged to buy her aunt’s cafe from her and is looking forward to shaping her future. For her, the journey is also a good opportunity to think about a decision she must make with her ex-partner and also it might be a way where she can connect with her daughter Holly, home on her summer break (winter in Australia) from teaching in the United States. Holly has definitely been distant and Aggie wants to know why.

I really loved the part of the book that takes place on the train – the women fly to Darwin and decide to do the trip heading from there back to Adelaide, close to where they live in the Barossa Valley in South Australia. It gave me quite a good idea I think, of what the trip would be like, the extras you can add on as well, such as visiting Uluru as well as the challenges of being confined to a train and things like the noise and it rocking/swaying at night. The confined environment too means that it’s impossible for some things not to be revealed and some tensions to escalate.

And this is a family with quite a few issues to work through. Aggie has certainly experienced a lot – from falling pregnant as a teenager, to being a young single mother to Holly, to meeting someone later in life and then having an IVF journey to try and fall pregnant. I really felt for Aggie and her story. I’ve never done IVF and I’ve never lost a child but I know what it’s like to want more children than you have and not be able to do that. Aggie has this huge decision hanging over her that she and her former partner Gideon must make together. There are a few options, but none of them feel exactly right and she needs time to sort through them. Her mother has a very strong opinion on which option Aggie should take, making her feelings very clear and also going so far as to meddle in it as well, to try and get her desired outcome, which causes even more friction in her relationship with Aggie. I thought this was all handled so well, with care and sensitivity and showed just how difficult the process can be.

Valeria was definitely a very prickly character, strong with her opinions and she wasn’t an easy character to like. She has chances to be happy and seems to deliberately allow her judgements and prejudices to sabotage them several times. She had to realise that about herself I think, to make choices that allowed her to be more open and less inclined to judge. I also really enjoyed the two older characters who joined the trip – Aggie’s aunt and her longtime friend and travel companion, who added some humour and also had interesting points to make about aged care, which are quite relevant.

I also found the jam making really fun – I love jam and I like going to markets and buying different types, or at cafes. The sort of cafe that Aggie had and her dreams for the future, would definitely be my sort of thing.

I did find this a bit slow in the beginning but once they got on the train, I really enjoyed it.

***A copy of this book was provided by the publisher for the purpose of an honest review***
Profile Image for Certified Book Addicts.
585 reviews20 followers
July 10, 2021
The Jam Queens is the 2021 contemporary release from Australian author Josephine Moon. I have always enjoyed Moon’s foodie fiction and this one is her best to date. Told in the third person, Moon incorporates multi points of view as she takes readers on the journey of a lifetime. The trip takes place on the Ghan, a train that runs from the south to the north of Australia. Embarking on The Ghan herself, Moon ensured that The Jam Queens was thoroughly researched. Places are richly described, leaving me longing for a holiday of my own. Three generations of women give Moon the chance to explore issues that include jam making, infertility, travel, marriage, secrets and much more.

Myrtle is a woman I wish I could be when I grow up. With a vibrant, positive personality, the eighty year old is living a full life. She is the owner of a café, The Strawberry Sonnet and, one of her hobby’s is jam making. Myrtle enjoys entering competitions but there is a family arrangement that she abides to.

Once upon a time, Myrtle had been married and when her great niece, Aggie was a teenager, Myrtle helped her in a time of crisis. She generously continues to do so over the coming years. When the opportunity arises to go on a holiday from South Australia to the Northern Territory via The Ghan, Myrtle chooses to go with Aggie and Valeria.

Aggie has experienced a lot in her life. An unexpected event led to Aggie becoming close to Myrtle and working at The Strawberry Sonnet, where she is currently eager to take on further responsibilities. Being close to Myrtle drove a wedge between Aggie and her mother, Valeria. Aggie hopes the train trip can mend their broken relationship. Instead, Aggie finds herself on an unexpected path when she meets Harry, a younger man. Choices about Aggie’s ex husband and her frozen embryos will need to be made sooner rather than later.

Valeria is a traditional, old fashioned woman. In some ways she reminded me of my own mother. Deeply religious, Valeria stands by her beliefs and morals. Her inflexible nature and worry about what others think has led to Valeria clashing with others, more often than not. She has made many mistakes over the years and keeping the man in her life a secret is the latest.

The Jam Queens is an adventure to remember!
Profile Image for Debra.
39 reviews3 followers
March 8, 2021
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 😊  
Profile Image for Toni.
389 reviews7 followers
October 25, 2022
What a fun book this was, the third of Josephine’s novels I’ve read and they have all been super enjoyable. Some tough and realistic topics are covered, but they are discussed in a way that is very approachable. The reader has the opportunity to listen and read on and I guess digest what is happening and see the issue from the characters point of view as well as those close to them. I found myself constantly reminded of people I know well in the characters - as well as observing parts of my self. That’s the skill the author has, to see our selves, the reader, in a different way through prompts including personality traits of book characters! There are many very funny one liners through out he book, even whilst very serious topics are discussed in the back ground. The Aussie environment itself is a large character and the descriptions in the different settings are always poignant and beautiful. Part of the book is set in the magnificent Ghan train, and I had kept the book especially to read whilst on the journey, so it was extra special. Looking forward to reading many more of the authors books.
Profile Image for Donna.
273 reviews15 followers
November 20, 2021
This is a great book about family and family relationships. These wonderful 5 women, Aggie, Valeria, Holly, Myrtle and Dolce. They are all strong women in their own rights but as with all of us they have their quirks and their week spots.

But they all come together for a trip on the Ghan and what ensues are what every family goes through throughout life. It is so easy to read and the location and description of the Ghan trip make you feel like you are there with them, travelling on their journey.

A great book, a great author and a great way to while away a few hours reading.

The Jam Queens
Josephine Moon
Penguin Books Australia Limited
Profile Image for Rachel.
594 reviews28 followers
June 9, 2022
A contemporary Australian family drama featuring delicious jams and a trip on the famous Ghan down the red centre of Australia. Aggie runs a café in the Barossa Valley of South Australia. After Aggie’s mother Valeria has a mini-stroke, great aunt Myrtle decides to arrange a family trip on the Ghan to celebrate Valeria’s 70th birthday. Aggie is recovering from a broken relationship and the pain of failed IVF treatment, and feels she needs to work on her fractured relationship with the crusty Valeria. Myrtle’s long term friend and travel adventure companion Dolcie comes along, and Aggie’s daughter Holly, who is visiting from the US. On the trip they meet Rupert, an old acquaintance of Valeria’s, and Harry, a somewhat unsuccessful surfer from Byron Bay.

The story deals with the relationships between the characters. Jam features too as Aggie, Myrtle and Valeria are all prize winning jam-makers. I found Valeria interesting with her principles and opinions on what everyone ought to do, seeming only to render her bitter and hard. The book is a journey in many ways. Myrtle and Dolcie were delightful. A pleasant, enjoyable book that makes me want to drink tea, eat jam and scones, and travel the Ghan. One part of the book that was somewhat shocking to me-as someone living in a country with tight gun control laws and very rare shootings-was the part dealing with high school shootings in the US and the very realistic, traumatic practice scenarios.
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