Cover Image: This Place of Wonder

This Place of Wonder

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Member Reviews

3.5 stars

I was kind of on the fence with this book because it didn’t really seem to fit one genre alone. While it is listed as General Fiction and Women’s Fiction, I think it could be categorized as Mystery as well. Nevertheless, the story did intrigue me.

When chef Augustus Beauvais dies unexpectedly, he leaves behind four women trying to come to terms with his loss. Maya, Norah, Meadow, and Rory all have their secrets, and when the circumstances surrounding Augustus’ death are brought into question, suddenly their pasts seem more relevant than ever. But not all secrets are created with bad intentions. Sometimes the kindest thing you can do is keep the truth buried.

I thought it was a decent story, but a bit anticlimactic. There were a few instances where I was caught by surprise, but even so, I felt like there wasn’t much of a build up to certain pivotal details being revealed. That to me was a bit disappointing. Had the book included a bit more suspense, I think I would’ve enjoyed it more.

*Thank you to NetGalley and Lake Union Publishing for providing a copy of this book to review.*
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When famed chef Augustus Beauvais dies, he leaves behind a well-known restaurant, and four women who loved him and grieved his death.  Meadow, his ex-wife, who he still had a business relationship with, and who he shared  two daughters with.  Their marriage may have been over, but their love was still going strong.  Norah was the one that he left Meadow for.  She came to interview Meadow for her college dissertation, but Augustus met her first and she moved in and never left.  Maya was Augustus's daughter from a prior marriage.  The two of them have had a rocky relationship ever since he moved out when she was young and left her with her mom.  She has spent the last 90 days in rehab battling her alcohol addiction, and the other demons that she has been fighting since she discovered her mother's dead body when she was just a child.  Rory is Meadow's daughter, and the one person Augustus never abandoned.  She is heartbroken over his death.  As Meadow, Maya, Norah, and Rory are flung together by tragedy, grief, and secrets yet to be revealed, they must accept—or turn away from—the legacy of great intentions and bad decisions Augustus left them. And when the circumstances around his death are called into question, their conflicted feelings become even more complicated. But moving forward is the only choice they have, and to do so, they’ll need to rely on family, friendship, and inner strength
This book was so good.  It is family drama at its best.  This is perfect for fans of Barbara Delinsky and Kristy Woodson Harvey.  It will make a great addition to your list of beach reads,  I highly recommend it.
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What a fabulous story about four wonderful women who are all effected by one man who loves them but isn't faithful, and the one thing they all have in common, including the man, is that they are strong enough to get beyond their sad beginnings and yet still pursues their dreams and find love.

The story is like a flower because as the story evolves the characters reveal more about who they are and they start to understand what they need and what they need to work on and they also find out that their lives are easier when there are others who love them.

I couldn't put the book down because I wanted to know what was going to happen next and I wasn't disappointed. There is an interesting twist at the end of the story, but I like the twist. I also like that the story is in California because it gives me a nostalgic feeling about living there and I understand the power of the ocean.

Also, this story reminds me a lot of, what I call, Samuel's receipt books, that had strong women finding their way through food. 

I want to thank Lake Union Publishing and NetGalley for this advance copy of this wonderful story
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This story is hard to describe in words as there are such intense themes of love, loss, heartbreak, and hope. The book is a bit darker than her other stories, which also gives it greater depth, yet the sexual undertones associated with trauma were a
bit more than I would’ve liked. Overall though a really beautiful story of human loss, connection, and resiliency.
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A book about 3 women who find their strength and themselves in the wake of the death of a man who left them all reeling. A family saga that captures your attention and keeps you reading

Augustus Beauvais, a restauranteur who dies suddenly leave behind Meadow the ex wife he built his empire with, and Maya the troubled daughter in rehab, Rory another daughter who is wrecked with grief, and Norah the girlfriend who got caught up in his charms 8 months ago.

 The way the female relationships develop in this story was chefs kiss. How they overcome obstacles, animosity, and jealousy that developed during and after Augustus' death. How having a troubled childhood, and the cards stacked against you won't prevent you from succeeding.
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Barbara O'Neal's THIS PLACE OF WONDER is O'Neal's considerable, compassionate, wise storytelling at its very best. When Augustus Beauvais dies, he leaves mysteries and unfinished business for the four women central to his life: Ex-wife Meadow with whom he shared history and business enterprises, daughters Maya and Rory, and his latest live-in girlfriend Norah. As the women grieve and manage the mess Augustus left behind, they face their demons and struggle to find their ways forward. From the first line until the very end, this story gripped me, particularly its setting along the California coastline. Vivid, complicated, and well-paced, this latest novel is the finest in O'Neal's impressive work to date.  I received an early copy of this novel and these opinions are my own, unbiased thoughts.
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𝘊𝘢𝘱𝘵𝘪𝘷𝘢𝘵𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘮𝘰𝘷𝘪𝘯𝘨!

Have I told you I love Barbara O’Neal? I read my first book from her recently and I simply fell in love with her writting style, this story captured since page one and didn’t let go. Beautiful descriptions, strong female characters, family secrets and lots of mouthwatering recipes. I loved all of it.

Thank you TLC Book Tours 
Amazon Publishing and Lake Union Authors for this tour invite and gifted copy.

𝗧𝗵𝗶𝘀 𝗣𝗹𝗮𝗰𝗲 𝗼𝗳 𝗪𝗼𝗻𝗱𝗲𝗿 by Barbara O'Neal releases today July 19, 2022. 

https://www.instagram.com/booksandcoffeemx/
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When chef Augustus dies unexpectedly, it sends shockwaves across his family: Meadow, his business partner and ex-wife; Maya and Rory, his and Meadow’s two daughters; and Norah, his current gf. Somehow they have to try to get through his death and life without him as best as possible. 

Each woman has their own story to tell that shares Augustus and their lives all intertwining. They each have different personalities yet remain connected by him and because of him. 

It’s a story about forgiveness and closure and second chances at a life without the man that meant so much to them. 

Thanks to NetGalley and Lake Union Publishing for this eARC.
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This Place of Wonder deals with the death of a well known chef who really shone in that world and how the four main women in his life deal with the impact of it on their lives and their interactions as a result.

Barbara O'Neal's writing is a notch above most for me. Her character development in her books that seem to be rich with women is superb. Her descriptive writing puts you right into the scenes and makes it so that you can't resist suffering the lows of her characters as well as the highs. This story certainly can't be described as action packed or a page turner--it's more like swaddling yourself in a warm blanket on a chilly night. It's soft and gentle, even with the issues of death, cheating and alcoholism that are present. It's like having a wine filled evening with your best friends and going home completely emotionally satisfied.

Thanks to the author for the gifted copy. All thoughts are my own.
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Barbara O'Neal has become one of my must-read authors in recent years, and her newest novel This Place of Wonder has easily made it on to my list of favorite books. I loved the California setting, the cast of female characters, and the gradual reveal of family secrets. Everyone's life revolved around the bigger-than-life character of Augustus. Even though he died at the beginning of the book, his presence was strongly felt throughout the story. Thanks to NetGalley and Lake Union Publishing for and advance copy to read and review.
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This was such a well-written book. The characters are so fully developed, and the descriptions incredibly vivid. I could see, smell and taste the foods and meals described, as well as the scenery. The emotions of the characters and everything they were going through was so clear. The story revolved around four women and their relationships with each other and Augustus, a famed chef, who had passed away. Like every book I have read by this author, I was drawn into the story, loved every moment and didn't want it to end. I will be on the lookout for the next book by this author.
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Well know chef Augustus has died and left behind four grieving women. His ex wife, daughter,step daughter. and a much younger girlfriend.

As the book progresses, we learn more about each woman and their relationships with Augustus. and with each other.

The characters were well written and had complex lives and relationships. But for some reason I didn't really like any of them. In most cases when this happens we're not supposed to like the characters, but with this one I'm just not sure if I should have liked at least one of them. but still didn't.

Told from multiple points of view that were quite similar at times. I would have liked a little more information about Augustus himself.  

The setting was quite nice and seemed realistic and easy to envision. The characters "issues" were handled with tact and grace. 

Thanks to netgalley and Lake Union Publishing for the arc.
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In her latest novel This Place of Wonder, Barbara O’Neal acutely captures the nature of grief, the aching of belonging, and the powerful effect hope and time can have on both.

Famed chef Augustus Beauvais dies unexpectedly, leaving behind two daughters, an ex-wife, a girlfriend, and a sagging empire. The women who mourn him are Meadow, his ex-wife; Maya, his daughter from his first marriage; Rory, his stepdaughter and Meadow’s daughter; and Norah, a girlfriend who put her career on hold to live with him. Their paths are more firmly intertwined with the ongoing police investigation into Augustus’s death. This novel is an in-depth character study of three of these women and a bit of the difficult man who connects them.


Each woman must work through their own trauma and grief while also answering probing questions from the police. As a recovering alcoholic, Maya wonders what his death and her lack of grief means for her recovery. Norah struggles financially, and must find her way back to herself. Meadow is trying to be there for both of her daughters, Maya and Rory, while they question her methods. These characters are intricately developed, making them feel real and relatable, and making their grief hit the reader a little bit harder.

As always, O’Neal escorts readers through an emotional and tumultuous journey that leaves the reader with a sense of hope, but also a lot of thought-provoking questions. This Place of Wonder is one that sticks with you, the characters living in your mind as you play over the plot again and again. It’s definitely re-readable.

The plot is moderately fast-paced, as the internal growth of the characters and their external actions demonstrate how trauma and their respective pasts intermingle and influence their present. Told in alternating points of view from Maya, Meadow, and Norah, each character has a lot at stake and their emotional growth really drives the plot, with the police investigation into the death driving the external plot. It combines into the kind of book you just don’t want to put down, both because you want to find out what happens next and because you just enjoy sitting with these characters.

There are several areas of representation this novel handles beautifully. The grip and effects of alcoholism on the person battling it and the people who love them was portrayed excellently, in a way that was realistic without being triggering (though this will vary based on personal experience with this topic). Grief and how it can reveal itself when relationships are complicated was also incredibly well done. The complicated paternal relationship really stuck out as being particularly on-point. The blended nature of Meadow and Augustus’s family was lovely to see, as was their relationship with both daughters, regardless of biological parenthood.

In general, books with letters from dead fathers to their daughters eviscerate my heart every time. So this book did make me cry in that regard, but if that isn’t a personal touchstone it may affect you differently. I would imagine it’s hard to walk away from this book without feelings though; these characters feel so real, and the events occurring so possible, that walking away without having emotions to process is unlikely. But that’s not a bad thing! Personally, I love books that make me feel.

This Place of Wonder strikes that beautiful, elusive balance of both feeling real and leaving the reader with a sense of hope. It is further proof of Barbara O’Neal’s mastery at creating re-readable, relatable, realistic books.

This Place of Wonder will be available July 19, 2022.

Thank you to the author, NetGalley, and Lake Union Publishing for an advanced copy such that I could share my honest opinions.
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The Place of Wonder
Barbara O’Neal
July 19, 2022

Families come in all shapes and sizes. We grow together, we love together, and we disagree and in some cases fracture and never come back together. In O’Neal’s latest novel, The Place of Wonder we are introduced to Meadow and Augustus Beauvais. When they met in a cafe where he was working it was kismet. She became acquainted with his daughter, Maya and he with her daughter, Rory. The duo were destined to work through it all. He developed Peaches and Pork, a restaurant that became celebrated and well-reviewed. He spent time on many circuits, while Meadow became famous in her own right and was a well known foodie herself. She developed a massive garden area where she grew an assortment of vegetables and fruit to supply local restaurants with fresh produce. Her book, Between Peaches and Pork: A Celebration of Sustainable and Festive Food was a bestseller. It became the bible for chefs and restaurant owners. 
The Place of Wonder gives us not so much the business end of this family but the tale of life after the unexpected passing of Beauvais. It is exceptionally well written and captivating in the characters' history. Her books are always excellent and this one is truly no exception. It will be published on July 19, 2022 by Lake Union Publishing of Seattle. I appreciate their allowing me to read and review Barbara O’Neal’s latest book via NetGalley. I have read most of her novels and enjoyed them all.  I encourage readers to select The Place of Wonder. Her journeys are a pleasant adventure and always superb reading. Do enjoy this one!
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I wanted to read this book because I loved When We Believed in Mermaids by Barbara O'Neal previously.

Augustus Beauvais, famed restauranteur, dies unexpectedly, he leaves behind an ex-wife, daughter, step-daughter and girlfriend.  All of these women have to learn to live in the shadow of Augustus, his businesses, his passions and his mistakes, etc.  

In this novel, we are able to see the wake of Augustus' death through the lens of his ex-wife, his girlfriend and his daughter, recently out of rehab for alcohol.  We are able to delve into the minds of these 3 women, their relationships with Augustus, and the issues they will have to overcome to move forward.  

This is a great novel about death, grief, and family expectations.  It also goes into the topic of addiction, as Maya is recently out of rehab.  Barbara O'Neal writes the California coast beautifully.  The characters are well developed and we are really able to see how this death affects them each differently.  

I will say that I preferred When We Believed in Mermaids, but this novel was good as well and I look forward to reading more by this author.
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4.5 stars!! Beautifully written tale told from three womens perspectives, daughter of Augustus, Meadow exwife of Augustus and Norah current girlfriend of Augustus at his death. A tale of how one man affected the women in many different ways, full of love, how to get through the hurts of life and how family can be made of many different people. His death is a mystery and well written. But it’s more about their relationships and the mystery of Meadows past. Excellent read!! 

Thank you to Netgalley for my electronic advanced reader copy in exchange for my honest opinion!
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🔊Song Pairing: Let It Be - The Beatles (this book just felt like it needed some John, Paul, George, Ringo vibe. 

💭What I thought would happen:

I laughed because I thought this was a fantasy based on the cover 😂😂😂

📖What actually happens: 

A book from 3 women’s perspectives all of whom deeply loved a charismatic man who let them all down. 

Maya is in rehab after destroying her life’s work as a vintner after finding out her partner was in love with another. She is estranged from her father, Augustus, yet his death has left her starting over in his house. 

Meadow has known Augustus for 30+ years, her ex-husband, business partner, best friend and love of her life. He is now dead and she doesn’t know how to carry on in a world without him. She focuses her attention on Maya’s recovery. 

Norah is Augustus’ current live in gf and is devastated by his death only knowing him 9 months. She has not lost her home and love in one fell swoop. Where will she go? 

🗯Thoughts:

This book starts with the destruction of a beautiful vintage wine collection, SACRILEGE! But also had my interest peaked from the first paragraph. 

Barbara writes in the most elegant, beautiful fashion. The way you can feel the California sea breeze and smell garlic while reading this book is truly magical. I cannot stress enough what a sensation the writing is amongst the pages of this book. 

I loved every character in this book, I want to live in a world where Meadow Beauvais exists.  I’ve also had the most ridiculous craving for heirloom tomatoes and grilled artichokes since reading this delight. Foodies will adore the many references to organic vegetables/farming and descriptions of yummy eats. I need recipes ASAP!
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I haven’t seen other reviews that include this information — had I known, I wouldn’t have picked this one up — so I hope it’s informative to make the best decision for you.

This book includes physical abuse, rape, child neglect, multiple descriptive remembrances of sex with the deceased, and 300 pages of women adoring a man who treated them poorly. Augustus, though deceased, is just as much a character in this book.

The story is told from three perspectives — leaving Rory on the periphery, unlike the book description — varying between Meadow, Maya, and Norah. Every single “mystery” of ‘how did this happen?’ or ‘how will this work out?’ is obvious, figured out long in advance of the various “reveals.” I stuck it out in hopes that at least one character would be able to see beyond the blinders they’ve put up, but ultimately Augustus can do no wrong because in their eyes, he just can’t help himself. I imagine most of the readers will be women, drawn in from the cover and description as I was, believing it to be a book about friendship and coming together after loss. Unfortunately, they’ll read of a man who got a thousand free passes to hurt, cheat, lie, neglect whenever it suited him (etc) and the women who adore him.

2 stars. 1 for the cover and 1 for the relationship between Rory and Maya.
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This was an interesting book told from the perspective of three different women who were all connected by one man, Augustus Beauvais. I liked that the book alternated between Meadow (ex-wife), Norah (current girlfriend), and Maya (daughter) - each woman has a secret and/or hardship that slowly comes to light as the book progresses. And each has to figure out how to continue in a world without Augustus, who was so pivotal in all of their lives. The author did a wonderful job with the rich and vivid descriptions of both food and places, especially Belle L’ete. For me, this book did require a little patience. The numerous references to Meadow’s past had me craving answers sooner rather than later…I kept looking for any hint or clue to try to put together the puzzle of her past. Overall, I enjoyed this book.

Thank you to Lake Union Publishing and NetGalley for providing a copy for review.
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When famous Chef Augustus dies he leaves behind four women with broken hearts. His ex-wife Meadow, their daughters and his current love are all tethered together by secrets and loss.
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O’Neal has a gift for beautiful writing. While, I struggled with who Augustus was as a man it doesn’t take away from the way O’Neal crafts a story and she draws you in. 
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Thank you #lakeunion and #NetGalley for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review
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