Cover Image: This Place of Wonder

This Place of Wonder

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Member Reviews

This was a wonderfully written family saga. Barbara O'Neal has a beautiful way with words and she drew me to this story from the beginning. When larger than life chef and personality Augustus dies suddenly, his ex-wife, daughters, and girlfriend are left to navigate their complicated relationships and the complicated legacy he left behind. 

*I received an advance copy of this book from NetGalley and the publisher and I am required to disclose that in my review in compliance with federal law.
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Great story! I love Barbara O’Neal’s books, they are intriguing and soothing to read. This is a compelling story of 4 different women grieving the death of an important man in their life. I love how this author creates setting so vividly that I can smell the wine and feel the sea spray on my face. I love how her characters become so real that I feel like I know them.  I highly recommend this story of love, loss, rock bottoms, and second chances. 

Thank you Netgalley, Lake Union Publishing and the author for this eARC in exchange for my honest review. This book is available for purchase on July 19, 2022
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I loved the one other book by Barbara O’Neal that I’ve read (The Lost Girls of Devon) and I loved this one too. This Place of Wonder is a family story and not your run-of-the-mill family. Augustus Beauvais is a celebrity chef in coastal California. He dies suddenly, leaving behind four women have to come to terms with this loss in their own way. While there are four women, we get chapters from the points of view of only three of them: Meadow, who was married to Augustus for 20 years, before his womanizing caused their divorce; Maya, his daughter from his first marriage, who is finishing up a stint in rehab; and Norah, his current/last girlfriend, many years his junior. The one we don’t hear from directly is Meadow’s daughter, Rory, although she’s a large part of the story. We gradually get their backstories and come to understand the dynamics of this melded family. I found myself rooting for each one of the women.

O’Neal’s writing style is wonderful (no pun intended). Her descriptions of the land and water, the flowers and the food were captivating but didn’t overwhelm the story. One of the characters suffers a broken bone at one point in the story: I’ve been lucky to never have broken a bone and her descriptions of how it felt made me extra-grateful that I’ve never had to experience it.

CW: discussion of alcoholism and addiction, as well as the already mentioned philandering (cheating) and sudden death

Thank you to NetGalley and Lake Union Publishing for the opportunity to read an advance readers copy of this book. All opinions are my own.
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O'Neal Delivers Yet Another Solid Family Drama. O'Neal's solid 2018 book The Art of Inheriting Secrets was the very first Featured New Release on my blog, and I have kept up that tradition every year since - and 2022 is no exception there. Her 2019 book When We Believed In Mermaids continues to be one of my most "liked" reviews on Goodreads to this day, and continues to garner attention seemingly every few days.

All that to note that I have a rich if recent history with O'Neal's work, and this is yet another truly solid and sensual tale of family secrets and drama. In this particular work, we get four women struggling with the sudden death of one man that all were connected to - his ex-wife and mom of his step-daughter and step-mother to his daughter, his most recent girlfriend, and both of the daughters in question, though we only "hear" from the two elder ladies + his biological daughter.

While this tale "hits" a few solid blows emotionally, it doesn't really land the haymakers that Mermaids did - this is more in line with most of her other books, including Secrets, on that level. This noted, it is ultimately a very satisfying tale that has several great moments not always seen in novels, including the daughter's actions in the prologue and the elder ladies' blend of pragmatism and romanticism. Several issues from alcoholism to rape to child abuse are touched on, so be prepared for that if one needs to be. Overall truly an excellent tale, and yet another wonderful read from O'Neal. Very much recommended.
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Loved it!! Augustus was definitely a collector of broken women and a ladies man. It's sad that Augustus threw twenty years of marriage away for a fling. I don't think he would ever be able to replicate what he had with Meadow with anyone else. Meadow knew what type of man Augustus was from the start. He was married when she met him. I'm pretty sure Meadow would continue loving Augustus no matter what he did. Maya on the other hand was devastated by her father's actions and could believe he broke up the family. The family had to have known Maya was an alcoholic, long before her wine barrel smashing. I enjoyed getting to know Meadow, Rory, Maya and Norah. Although, Rory was still a bit of a mystery. Everyone else got their story told but not her. Rory was just there and Maya took center stage with everything. Meadow even treated them differently. Maya got all of Meadow's attention. How did Rory feel growing up? What ever happened with Maya's divorce? Did she get to keep the name Shanti? I never suspected the truth behind Augustus's death.

Definitely recommend the book. Loved the characters, writing style and story. Look forward to reading more books by the author. Loved the cover of the book.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Lake Union Publishing through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
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Told from the perspectives of Meadow, the wife of 20 years, Norah, the latest mistress, and Maya, the daughter; all three of these women all loved, hated, and missed Augustus in different ways. When Augustus drops dead in his restaurant, everyone else is left to pick up the pieces around them. His big presence, even with all his mistakes, leaves a gaping hole. Each of the ladies deals with his loss and with one another in different ways. 

I loved this book! The women are interesting and I was so engrossed in was her of their stories. You find yourself rooting for them and hoping things get better and work out for them!
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This Place of Wonder, by Barbara O'Neal, is a heartrending novel about love and family.  I liked the main characters and thought that each one was well fleshed out and interesting.  I appreciated that the book dealt with addiction, the cycle of addiction and how it affects family and loved ones in a sensitive manner.  It gives hope without being all fluff and sweetness. 
Augustus Beauvais sudden passing leaves behind an ex wife, a lover and two daughters struggling with his death.  Not only are they dealing with the baggage that comes from his unexpected death, they don't know how they're going to go on without him.
His ex wife, Meadow, is still in love with him, though she seems to hold the most realistic view of him.  They built a wonderful restaurant and family together before his infidelities ended their twenty year marriage.
Maya has been estranged from Augustus ever since he divorced her step mother, the only mom that she's ever known.  She’s fresh out of rehab and is ready to restart her life.  His other daughter, Rory, as well as her family, were quite close to Augustus.  She's trying to be the voice of reason and keep everyone together.
Then there's Norah, his live in lover, who put aside her career to be with him.  Now she's scrambling to restart her life in an unfamiliar place.
They've all been thrown together to try and work their way through the pain and confusion that Augustus left behind.
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This Place of Wonder by Barbara O'Neal is an emotional story of love and loss and what it means to be a family. When famous chef Augustus Beauvais dies suddenly he leaves four women behind to mourn him. His ex wife and business partner Meadow, with whom he built a home, a family and an empire , his current girlfriend Norah, young enough to be his daughter with the kind of tragic past he was always drawn to, his estranged  daughter Maya whose mother was his first wife but who was adopted by Meadow and loves her so much that she stopped speaking to her father when he left her and split up their family,, and whose new found and hard won sobriety is hanging by a thread, and Rory, Meadow's daughter who was adopted by Augustus when they married, and loved him deeply. 
Rocked by the sudden death of a man who mattered so much and so deeply to all of them, they are drawn together in their grief and loss, as they try to figure out what happens next, for all of them, but the relationships between these very strong and very determined women will never be easy or run smoothly.
This is a book with a lot of heart , I loved each of these women in their own way, and it was this engagement with the characters and their stories that really kept me turning the pages of the book. There are a few surprises along the way, but nothing that I did not see coming, so even though the ending was somewhat predictable , the journey to get there was enjoyable enough that it did not spoil the book for me. 
I read and reviewed an ARC courtesy of NetGalley and the publisher, all opinions are my own.
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Meadow, Maya, Rory, and Norah- the ex-wife, daughter step-daughter, and partner respectively of Augustus, a famous chef, discover he's been hiding something when he dies suddenly.  Although it was assumed he had a heart attack, the police are investigating.  Each woman- except Rory- tells their story and each has a different take on him.  It's a familiar plot but O'Neal has created a couple of good characters in Maya and Norah.  Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC. No real surprises but  a good read.
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Augustus Beauvais is dead. The charismatic, bigger than life Adonis has died and left four amazing women (his ex-wife, daughter, stepdaughter, and his new, very young girlfriend) to mourn his loss, sort through their complicated histories, and find a way forward. There's also glorious food, romance, and a bit of mystery.

I loved everything about This Place of Wonder.
I loved each of the fully developed characters and the coastal setting.  I loved the story and I loved the writing. This is my first Barbara O'Neal read and lucky for me I have four more of her novels sitting on my shelf. 

4 1/2 stars. Highly recommend.

Thanks to Lake Union Publishing for a complimentary drc via Netgalley. Tentative publication July 19, 2022.
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I liked this book but I felt like the story was a little slow.  I liked the characters and the writing and I'm glad I was able to read it.
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3.5 - This story sucked me in- not surprising from Barbara O’Neal. The characters were all unique and well developed. 

There was so much going on in this story and so many ways it could have gone. Very deep emotional issues (see my trigger warnings below!). 

The ending & resolution of the big conflict felt a bit rushed to me. But I enjoyed the note it ended on, so that was good. 

TW: loss of loved one, alcoholism, infidelity, rape (off page in past).
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Four women come to terms with grief and healing in very different ways with the passing of famous chef Augustus Beauvais.

His biological daughter Maya struggles to maintain her fragile sobriety while seething over unresolved hurts.  After being estranged for many years, she believed she was finally ready to hash out her issues with her father and move forward. Now the sole owner of is estate, including his restaurant and beach front home  unsure of how to move forward.  She only knows the wine industry, and that isn’t going to work with her alcoholism. 

Meadow, is Augustus’ ex-wife, the one with whom he built an empire.  Together, they helped bring the farm-to-table movement into the spotlight.  The food from her farm helped to build his menu each week.  They were a dynamite couple, unstoppable in the food world, with bestselling books, cameos on food shows, not to mention their customers that flocked from all over to taste their food.  Though they have been divorced for years, they were together more than apart and continued to be business partners until his death.  

Rory, Meadow’s daughter, is in denial.  Augustus Beauvais was the only father figure she ever had, and she loved him.  Worrying over her sister’s sobriety and taking care of her two girls helps her to ignore her grief, but at what cost?  Helping others allows her to justify ignoring her own complicated feelings.  

Norah has a complicated past and is inspired by strong women who make a name for themselves.  She came to California to meet and write about Meadow, who she decided was the real success story, not Augustus.  When she ends up meeting Augustus first, like most other women she falls subject to his charm and ends up dating him, despite the large age gap and the fact that this relationship will ruin her chances with Meadow.

These four women are flung together varying circumstances after Augustus’ death.  Each faces grief in very different ways, and often they end up unexpectedly helping each other despite strained relationships.  This Place of Wonder is a deep dive into family dysfunctions in the face of tragedy.  The relationships between these women and Augustus are each so different and worth reading about. 

Thank you to NetGalley, Lake Union Publishing, and of course Barbara O’Neal for the advanced copy.  This Place of Wonder will be available on July 19th.  All opinions are my own.
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When famous chef Augustus Beauvais suddenly dies, he leaves behind four devastated women, and they can’t believe the man with the big personality is gone. 

Meadow was married to Augustus for twenty years, their now divorced, she runs her own organic farm, and has a small share in his restaurant. Maya is Augustus’s daughter from his first marriage, her relationship ended badly with her long-term partner, it tipped her over the edge, and she’s due to be released from rehab. Rory is Meadow’s daughter, she’s happily married, and has two young daughters. Norah is Augustus's current girlfriend, she is much younger than him, and she doesn’t know what she will do without him? 

Augustus died from a suspected heart attack, and the authorities have to conduct an autopsy before he can be cremated. Augustus owns a restaurant called Peaches & Pork, a mansion on the California coast, and everyone assumes he's well off financially. They uncover his business isn't doing well, Augustus didn’t want to change with the times, and now there’s some doubts about the cause of his death? 

Four women with ties to one man, lays the foundations for an interesting and dramatic plot! Meadow, Maya, Rory, and Norah are all linked together, it’s not easy with so many different personalities and individuals issues, they have to try to get along, and cope with the loss of Augustus. 

I received a copy of This Place of Wonder by Barbara O’Neal from NetGalley and Lake Union Publishing in exchange for an honest review. It’s a story about people making mistakes, finding forgiveness and closure, being able to move forward, and from unlikely alliances. If you like drama filled stories, characters with flaws and secrets, I highly recommend this book, and four stars from me.
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The story
Four women. Meadow, ex-wife of restauranteur Augustus. Maya his daughter from his addict first wife. Rory, Meadow’s daughter with no known father. Norah, Augustus’ much younger live-in girlfriend. When Augustus dies from a suspected heart attack, years long pain and sadness is unleashed in all four. Their secrets are revealed one by one to themselves and each other. 

My thoughts 
I have adored each of Barbara O’Neal’s books that I read before and this gorgeous story as well. The story is told from Meadow’s, Maya’s and Norah’s perspectives and the layers unfold gently revealing the human mistakes that are made, the pain that has been buried. By the end, the layers are stripped away and the raw truth allows the four grieving woman to continue with each other’s support.
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📚 Between Book Review 📚 

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This Place of Wonder

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Chelsey 4.5 ⭐️ 

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Thanks to NetGalley and Barbara O’Neal for this advance copy!

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Augustus Beauvais , acclaimed chef of Peaches and Pork, is dead and the women in his life are reeling. Ex-wife Meadow grieves the loss of her one true love while trying to keep secrets from her past buried. His daughter Maya is freshly out of rehab, inherited the house and restaurant, and is grappling with her complex feelings and anger for the father she lost. Finally, his current girlfriend Norah is kicked out of his house, and returns to her original reason for meeting Augustus.. writing a pro-feminism expose on Meadow. Will the family be able to find their way without Augustus, or will the ties that bind them come undone?

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💭 Thoughts 💭 

Another well done @ family drama. All of the women were deeply flawed yet so caring, you could feel the realistic family tension. I liked how their stories intertwined and the way that the end wrapped up.

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⌛️ Favorite Moment ⌛️ 

The flashbacks to Meadow and Augustus’ romance were steamy! It helped put their relationship in perspective and showed just how much they cared about one another.

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It’s not officially summer for me until I’ve read the newest Barbara O’Neal release. I look forward to a new book from her like I look forward to a visit from a very loved and dear friend. Her books feel like home to me and this one is no exception. 

I loved this book from the opening page to the very satisfying ending, and every page in between. I was right there on the farm, in the beautiful family home, and in the restaurant with all of its delicious tastes and smells. I was also so invested in each character, their heartaches and trials, their joys and goodness. Every moment came alive on the page and jumped out and grabbed my heart and there it all still is, written right there on the pages of my heart and soul. I just adore the way this author can capture all of that for me. I could go on for ever, but in the end I will just say that I highly recommend this book. Read it! You will be so glad you did
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This Place of Wonder follows four women (Norah, Meadow, Maya and Rory) in the aftermath of Cher Augustus Beauvais's death. Meadow, the ex-wife, built an empire and family with Augustus and never seemed to stop loving him. Maya, his estranged daughter, is fresh out of rehab and holds a lot of anger towards her father. Rory, Meadow's daughter, is calm and collected but struggling to accept her step-dad is dead. Norah, the latest girlfriend of Augustus, gave up her career for him and is now at a loss. 

This book was my first by Barbara O'Neal. I liked the exploration of how four different women responded to an influential man in their life dying, somewhat unexpectedly. The story pivots through each woman's perspective and I really appreciated reading from the different perspectives. Maya and Meadow were my favourite perspectives to read from, Norah got on my nerves and I wish we had been able to have more insight from Rory. She was often portrayed as the only one to be happy and content with her life despite everything that had happened so some balance could have offset the heavier topics. 

The topics covered within are very heavy and some trigger warnings are most definitely required for assault, abortion, alcoholism/addiction, infidelity and child abuse.   Maya's storyline as she handles life post rehab, and reflects on life during the grip of alcoholism, is rare and authentically told. Meadow's past which Norah seeks to uncover is heartbreaking to read (I felt uncomfortable over Norah's digging into this past just because Meadow was famous but understand this is what people do, made me feel sad Meadow had to relive this tragic period). 

The recent events of Roe v Wade being overturned made the views/paragraph on abortion contained within uncomfortable to read. The character's thoughts come across as judgemental which is not something I appreciate around this topic. One female is judging one of the other females for not getting an abortion. This vibe to me was just as distasteful to read as a judgement of somebody getting an abortion. I think my thoughts on this are extra sensitive though due to the recent current events we have happening here in the US. This is only covered in a paragraph or two and does not take away from my overall enjoyment of reading the book.
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I received a digital ARC from Lake. Union Publishing via NetGalley.

This is the first book that i have read by Barbara O’Neal, and I appreciated the author’s writing style. The characters in this story are realistic and relatable.  The family dynamic was interesting to read as well.
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This is a family drama story of the lives of three women who knew Augustus Beauvais. Meadow was the ex-wife of Auggust, Norah was the mistress of Augustus and Maya was the daughter of Augustus from his first marriage. Augustus Beauvais dies suddenly and his death affects the three women in different ways. 

The story is told from the perspectives of Norah, Meadow and Maya who recounts their experience with Augustus. The author has a unique style of writing and did a good job of drawing the reader into the story. It was also very interesting to read each of these characters as each of the characters are holding a secret that may ruin their lives. The story is set in California and the description of the places makes the reader feel like they are in California as well.

Overall, I enjoyed reading this story and if you like a story with family drama, then this one is for you--worth five stars.

Many thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the ARC. The review is based on my honest opinion only.
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