Title: The Cake Maker’s Wish
Author: Josephine Moon
Published: June 2nd 2020
Publisher: Penguin Books Australia
Genres: Fiction, Contemporary
Rating: 4 stars
When single mum Olivia uproots her young son Darcy from their life in Tasmania for a new start in the English Cotswolds, she isn’t exactly expecting a bed of roses – but nor is she prepared for the challenges that life in the picturesque village throws her way.
The Renaissance Project hopes to bring the dwindling community back to life – to welcome migrants from around the world and to boost the failing economy – but not everyone is so pleased about the initiative.
For cake maker Olivia, it’s a chance for Darcy to finally meet his Norwegian father, and for her to trace the last blurry lines on what remains of her family tree. It’s also an opportunity to move on from the traumatic event that tore her loved ones apart.
After seven years on her own, she has all but given up on romance, until life dishes up some delicious new options she didn’t even know she was craving.
‘It was possible, she observed, that she was channelling her grief into baking. This wasn’t entirely a bad thing, given that she was a pastry chef. How much more complicated her life would be right now if her loss has manifested into an inability to bake.’
Foodie fiction lovers will be seduced by Josephine Moon’s delightful new novel, The Cake Maker’s Wish. With a delectable recipe in the back of the book for a mouthwatering Persian Love Cake, I was immediately won over by this heartwarming addition to the Josephine Moon food literature collection. I really do love the little sub-genre Josephine Moon has carved out for herself and her fans!
The Cake Maker’s Wish is the story of hardworking single mother and cake making extraordinaire Olivia. When we meet Olivia she is in the midst of a big life changing decision. Olivia has decided to move with her son Darcy from Tasmania to a quaint English village in the Cotswolds. With fresh challenges and unexpected surprises thrown at her from the get-go, Olivia’s new life is proving to be quite a test! With the work of the Renaissance Project, an incentive designed to kick start the fledgling local economy in the Cotswolds, Olivia’s new community of both locals and international friends brings some new connections. But the more Olivia gets involved in the local community and the project, she realises that not everyone in the village is happy about the Renaissance initiative. With Olivia knee deep in her cake making, the arrival of Darcy’s father and her ex from Norway dredges up past hurts and new emotions. Love also comes in the form of an unexpected acquaintance and Olivia must make a heartbreaking choice. An opportunity to investigate a tragic family event and her grandmother’s legacy also comes Olivia’s way. The Cake Maker’s Wish is a tale filled with moments of change, realisation, semblance, choice and self-acceptance.
It was a blessing to see Josephine Moon return with a brand new food infused tale, thanks to The Cake Maker’s Wish. I always look forward to seeing what new mouthwatering treat Josephine Moon will incorporate within her thoughtful contemporary fiction novels. As a big fan of desserts, I will often leave aside my main meal in preference for cake, or any other sweet delight on offer, so my interest was immediately piqued as soon as I encountered Josephine Moon’s new title. The Cake Maker’s Wish is a dream for those who enjoy contemporary life literature titles, with a generous side serving of food related delights!
Olivia is our guide for the duration of The Cake Maker’s Wish. This is Olivia’s story, but Moon’s new novel also draws in other aspects. Some of these story elements are light and springy, while other issues incorporated in this tale are much more serious. Olivia is interesting lead, she has quite a strained life, marked by separation and loss. Olivia is a woman of strength and I admired her hardworking spirt. I also thought Olivia was very brave to take on a transition from a life in Tasmania, to a completely new existence in the Cotswolds. I’m not sure I could do it personally, but Olivia’s positivity and can-do attitude was definitely infectious. I really wanted Olivia to succeed and make some connections to the village folk of the Cotswolds. I enjoyed the way in which Moon introduced some conflict and underlying reservations about the big initiative that brings Olivia to the Cotswolds. The Renaissance Project was an ingenious concept and I liked how Moon exposed the opposition to this enterprise. It certainly managed to ignite some tension and push pull relations for the cast.
As Josephine Moon’s new book is titled The Cake Maker’s Wish, there are some wonderful descriptions of her cake making exploits. I have a close family member who is cake maker and I felt that the sequences involving the work of an everyday cake maker was realistic and authentic. I have to say I looked forward to these areas of the book very much, it was very indulgent and moreish! Clearly Moon has spent a great deal of time personally researching the business of cake making and this is reflected clearly in her novel. I think readers will embrace Olivia and the complications that arise from her cake making efforts.
Another area that worked well for me was the sea change aspect of the story. Although I really would have loved to have stayed in Richmond Tasmania (I love this part of our country), an opportunity to travel via the pages of The Cake Maker’s Wish to the quaint village world of the Cotswolds was very much welcomed. Moon did a good job with this area of her novel and I was completely immersed in her locations for the duration of the story. It was the perfect escape, especially in these most trying times.
There are other concerns aside from cake making in this new novel from Josephine Moon. We have a rather perplexing romance dynamic that unfolds with Olivia, a local villager and her son’s father. I’m normally a fan of romances, but I’m not sure this was the book’s strength. However, I do feel that the romance provided a distraction to the other issues at hand. We also have an intriguing family history focus which links rather well to Oliva’s grandmother. I enjoyed this sojourn into the lead’s family legacy. Finally, there is a revealing look at relationships, parenting and gender issues, which may incite some worthy discussion with book groups.
Take a gastronomic journey from Tasmania to the Cotswolds in this appealing contemporary fiction title from Josephine Moon. The Cake Maker’s Wish offered a most welcome break away from everyday life, a foodie escape is what we all need right now!
The Cake Maker’s Wish by Josephine Moon was published on 2nd June 2020 by Penguin Books Australia. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.
To learn more about the author of The Cake Maker’s Wish, Josephine Moon, visit here.
*I wish to thank Penguin Books Australia for providing me with a free copy of this book for review purposes.
The Cake Maker’s Wish is book #109 the 2020 Australian Women Writers Challenge