Cover Image: This Place of Wonder

This Place of Wonder

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Member Reviews

Despite having a few other unread titles on my NetGalley shelf, when this one arrived, it pushed the others out of the way.  Reading Barbara O'Neal is very satisfying to me - it gives me the right amount of family issues to be interesting, enough depth of personalities to feel real, and enough feel-good portions to keep me happy.  Once again, she hit all the marks with this book.  Each chapter is told by one of the book's characters, and is easy to track where you are in the thought processes of each person (all women).  

I love the setting, the current feeling of the book, and the care-filled way issues are handled.
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As a big fan of Barbara O’Neal, I really enjoyed this book. I am so glad they she wrote another book with a restaurant/food emphasis. She does it so well. 

I enjoyed the story as told from the viewpoint of the different characters as well. Overall, this was a story well written, filled with sadness and triumph, so to speak, ending in a satisfying, but unexpected way. I would definitely recommend it. 

Thank you to Netgalley and Lake Union Publishing for the ARC.
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*I received a complimentary ARC galley of this book in exchange for my honest review.*

There were so many things about this book that I loved. The coastal/ Central California setting was atmospherically described in such a way that, by the time I finished the book. I actually felt as if I'd just spent time there, like a dream you wake up from & keep forgetting wasn't actually real. I thought the inclusion of a main character struggling with addiction was a bold & important choice, especially since it wasn't just tacked on as a detail, but was explored in a way that was sensitive but realistic. 
I did feel that it needs a good bit of editing down, with many parts of the book feeling bogged down by different characters' musings & ruminations that didn't feel necessary to the narrative of the story, and even detracted from it. With this being an uncorrected proof, I expected more grammatical-type errors, of which there were hardly any, but I was also surprised that this had already been edited, since the narrative arc of the story often felt confusing & meandering. The conclusion felt satisfying, if a bit abrupt, and I wish this book had had the benefit of different editing choices, as I think that would have contributed to a more cohesively-told story overall.
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I read this book as an arc, and sadly, it was not a book for me. 

The plot is a multi-POV story telling of how 60-ish-year-old man named Augustus affected the lives of many women, Meadow, Maya, Rory, Norah. He was a ladies man, and died of what seems to be a heart attack. 

My thoughts during the read:
“There’s amazing imagery and play on words.”
“This wasn’t getting interesting until 60% in”
“I want to DNF this book if it weren’t for men receiving it as an arc”
“This book is for grandmas”
  —> I proceed to look up the author, who is in her 60s (no offense about the old grams thought)
“No wonder this book isn’t for me… and it’s my fault for not researching further into the book and author”

Although I’m glad I finished the read, I felt like I really read a whole bunch of nothing. Seems harsh but ultimately it was a bittersweet ending that I might’ve enjoyed much more if I were the intended demographic.
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This is an emotional, wonderfully detailed novel of family, friendship, heartbreak, heartache, so many secrets and resilience!
I laughed, cried and at times was in shock as I devoured this book.
How can four women love one man who is larger than life, so much, yet so differently?
Augustus Beauvais, (owner and famous chef in California), has a daughter, step daughter, ex-wife and girlfriend. When he dies suddenly, each has to resolve the guilt, fears, past and anger to move forward to continue their life journey. It isn't easy. Many secrets have been hidden.
I loved each of the characters, and the mystery and suspense that was thrown in to add some spiciness to the plot.
This is women's fiction at its best! Excellent!
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I just don’t think this author is for me.  I’ve read two of her books now and this one was extremely wordy and just overall I didn’t love it and was left wanting more.  If you enjoy other work by her, you’ll probably love this,m.
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In the end of the day, this book was more about the relationships between those four different women than it was a mystery/thriller. Augustus’ death was a tool to set up what really was a human story. It worked well for me, but that’s something that could disappoint some if they expected something different. This is a story about grief, but also about family and the connections between our main characters. The characters felt very human and were likable, although I wish some aspects were more fleshed-out, especially Rory’s character who seemed a little excluded of the story compared to the others (tho the synopsis is about *four* women). Overall a nice read nonetheless.
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This Place of Wonder by Barbara O'Neal is an emotion-filled story told in the voices of three women, who all loved one man, Augustus Beauvais! He was such an integral part of their lives and when he died suddenly of a suspected heart attack, they all feel lost. The women have one thing in common, they all have parts of their lives that are broken.
The book opens in a dramatic scene with Maya Beauvais destroying the wine casks in the cellar of her vineyard. Maya is taken away to rehab for treatment of her alcoholism.  Augustus was her father and they had been estranged for years. She is shocked by the news of his death. Maya experienced a traumatic childhood during the years she lived with her biological mother.
Meadow had been married to Augustus and together they built a successful business. Augustus adopted Meadow's daughter, Rory, and loved her as his own. Rory and Maya become close and loving sisters. Even after their divorce, Meadow and Augustus loved each other and reconciled a couple of times over the years. Meadow has secrets she has kept hidden since she was a teen, but will someone discover them?
Norah is a writer who fell in love with Augustus. He was thirty years older than her, but she could not resist his charms. Norah was gathering content to author a book about the influence of women in the food and restaurant industry. She had met Augustus when she interviewed him about Meadow being a major force behind the success of their business, Peaches and Pork. She had moved into Augustus' luxurious home when they became lovers. She was shocked when she was informed Augustus had died at the restaurant, but she called Meadow to let her know the upsetting news. I enjoyed reading Norah's kind character as she befriends Maya in her time of need and later Meadow.
All the women continue an uneasy circle of family, friends, and acceptance as they wait for the results from Augustus' autopsy. Maya struggles with maintaining her sobriety and facing her anger issues with memories of her father. Nora tries to finish her research but is homeless after Augustus died.
This book is my favorite in women's fiction for 2022!
Thank you to NetGalley, the author, and publisher for the opportunity to read this book!
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This was a great story of a group of women coming to terms with the loss of the man who connected them all. His ex-wife Meadow, daughter  Maya fresh from rehab and the end of her marriage and career as a vintner,  adopted step daughter Rory and his most recent live in lover Norah who came to town wanting to write a powerful feminist dissertation on Meadow but met Augustus (the man in question) first. 
While there is a mystery story with police considering whether or not Augustus was murdered rather than having a heart attack as suspected, this novel is really a study of female relationships, with the men in their lives, with their mothers, sisters and friends. How much does our relationship with anyone depend on our past relationships and how forgiving can you be when weighing up many years of care and support versus a cataclysmic betrayal. 
I read this book quickly and enjoyed it very much but did have a few minor criticisms. The physical descriptions of Augustus made me quite fascinated that any of woman would fancy him sexually never mind a parade of ex wives and lovers. The author’s use of ‘orange skin’ just made me think of a recent president and made me shudder. And my second issue was the wildfire mentions led me to believe they would feature in the plot somehow. Tension was built on the level of smoke and colour of the sky but in the end it seems the author was simply describing something that is as common in California now as is describing the ocean. 
I am excited now to go and see what else the author has written and read those books too!
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I am a longtime fan of this author, but I do not know what happened with this book. It is relentlessly grim, the story of four women whose lives revolve around their different entanglements with a charismatic, narcissistic man who betrayed each of them in different ways and yet throughout the book remains their hero, even after his death. I kept reading, hoping something good would happen - growth or perspective or a plot twist that changes things. But things do not change. Everyone simply accepts him for who he was and lives with the pain and losses and destruction he caused, circling around him to make his life and death easier. I was so very glad when this book was over.

On the positive side: good discussion of what early sobriety looks like, both the struggles and the small tools that lead to success.  And abandoned children who emerge from trauma strong enough to make their own way in the world. I was grateful for these two pricks of light in an otherwise dark story.

I received a copy of this book from NetGalley.
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Once again, Barbara O'Neal did not disappoint! This Place of Wonder is a story of four women who come together after the death of Augustus- two daughters, an ex wife and a lover. By no means was Augustus a perfect man, yet he was much loved by those who knew him, especially the women that he "saved". His one daughter, Maya, is fresh out of rehab and I wanted to say, as someone in long term recovery, that the descriptions of her racing thoughts, restlessness, emotions, etc was very spot on and accurate. I also particularly liked that while the women all came together over a man, all of the women portrayed in the book were strong minded leads. Lastly, I did pick up on at least one instance of very subtle foreshadowing and I liked that. It was a passing comment that had me thinking throughout the book and to keep from giving any spoilers, I'll leave it at that.  I'm fortunate that I had two flights today because it gave me uninterrupted time to read this and I didn't want to put it down.
Many many thanks to NetGalley for this ARC!
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The story is told by three women close to charismatic renowned celebrity chef and restaurateur Augustus - daughter Maya, ex-wife Meadow, and live-in girlfriend Norah - as they each come to terms with his sudden death and what that means for each of them. Maya struggles with the realisation that she will now never be able to resolve feelings of his abandonment of her. Meadow has never stopped loving Augustus, despite being divorced for several years. She remained close to him and could never quite let him go. Norah was his latest girlfriend, a bright and ambitious writer whose prospective career stalled when she fell under Augustus's spell. Now she is suddenly homeless and penniless. Each woman has her own grief to process along with unresolved issues and secrets, and now confronted with the possibility that Augustus may have been poisoned.
I enjoyed the format which worked well to communicate to the reader each person's thoughts and insecurities. And I liked the characters and the way details about their lives were slowly revealed. My favourite character was Meadow's daughter, Rory, and I would have liked to see more of her as she was such a strong, level-headed foil to her mother and step-sister.
As usual with Barbara O'Neal's books there are gorgeous settings and lots of delicious food, and this is followed by a satisfying ending for dessert.
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When Californian chef Augustus Beauvais dies, he leaves behind a failing restaurant and four women grappling with loss, anger, pain, and the question of how they can move on in the world without him.
This is the kind of meandering book to be enjoyed on a winter’s evening by the fire. Slow, languorous, sensual and emotional – but not for someone looking for anything close to a narrative drive. 
It is set in a fantasy world of Californian wealth, luxury, food and wine which starts to grate as the middle of the book sags under the weight of the constant reference to the dichotomy of money, privilege and luxurious lifestyles versus infidelity, insecurity and mental health issues. 
This is a world where a woman can create something she loves as an escape from the real world and it is instantly successful. Fantasy indeed.
Augustus collected broken women like recipes. Some of them healed and went on to do great things with their lives. Others, like his daughter Maya had already imploded and now has to deal with the extra trauma his death and legacy brings, in addition to her own stupid mistakes.
And therein lies a problem. Yes, many women have a tough and traumatic start in lives. But everyone in this book, including Augustus, has created a new identity for themselves which is both fragile and unresolved in many ways, in response to the trauma of their early life. 
But everyone? That was hard to believe, especially when the first person narrative is meant to let us inside the heads of these women. 
Sorry. Not for me.
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A touching story of grief, and how loss can affect so many people’s lives in different ways. I enjoyed following the lives of these three women. It completely showed how trauma and healing are dealt with very differently by various people. I find myself thinking about this book a lot until now. Looking forward to what the author plans in the future.
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Barbara O’Neal is quickly turning into a new favorite author. O’Neal tells the story of the key women in Augustus’ life after his death. Their tales weave stories of a raw, broken, unfiltered life for each women to only find their place in the end. It’s a tale of heartbreak, tragedy, pain and also a story of beauty, family and the strength of women.
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One of my favorite authors does it again. This is a book about family, the problems that people have and the support that is so important to them. Meadow and Augustine are married in their twenties. They each bring a daughter into the marriage. They are both successful in the foodie world, but in their own life, much is going on. This book is about  infidelity, terminal illness, alcoholism and secrets from the past. This book wraps you up in another families life and brings the reader hope for their own family— because every family does have problems. Thank you to NetGalley, the publisher and the author for the ARC in the form of a Kindle book in exchange for an honest review.
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"This place of wonder" is a modern story following four women as they navigate the death of the man who has been the centre of their universe. 

The characters were likeable and complex, but fleshed out to differing degrees. While Meadow and Maya had huge arcs, a large portion of Norah's narrative was really about Meadow; while Rory was left largely unexplored. I couldn't tell you whether she had a chapter of her own, but I don't think so. 

The writing was excellent. The pdf came with the instruction that this was pre-proof reading, and even so there are only a handful of mistakes, but also the dialogue was believable and the descriptions were beautiful and it just sort of worked. 

The issue I had was that, the story was built as though finding out what happened to Augustus was the most important thing... And then really it was a couple of pages at the end that didn't change anything. The story could have just been built around Maya's recovery, and I'm not sure it would have been any the poorer for it. 

Lovely writing, delightful premise, very easy to read, but a little frustrating as a narrative arc.
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Another great book by Barbara O’Neal.  Whenever I see she has a new book out, I get this little feeling of excitement knowing that I’m going to be in for a good reading session with all the things that I enjoy in a book like very interesting characters, great and detailed settings, a smooth and realistic dialogue, a bit of mystery and often a bit of a love story thrown in for good measure.  

This Place of Wonder is written in alternating chapters between three women Maya, Meadow and Norah.  They are the women in Augustus Beauvais life.  He’s is a popular chef with with a restaurant of his own.  He’s a father, an ex-husband and boyfriend to strong and courageous women.  When he dies suddenly of a suspected heart attack, the women that loved him must find a way to move forward and come to terms with the different relationships that they had with Augustus.  

Thank you to NetGalley and Lake Union Publishing for allowing an advanced copy for us to read in exchange for an honest review.  It was very much enjoyed.
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I am a fan of Barbara O'Neal's novels and this one is no exception. The story revolves around the women who loved Augustus Beauvais who was a famous chef and had a larger than life personality who suddenly dies. It is told in 3 points of view. Meadow, his ex wife who still has love for him. Norah, his much younger live in girlfriend and Maya his only daughter. Each woman has traumas that they are trying to overcome and they navigate their shared grief together.
I love the Author's writing style. Her stories always draw me in immediately and she has such a vivid way of describing things. Her books are always so beautifully written.
Thank you to NetGalley and the Publisher for a copy of this book for review.
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This Place of Wonder is the story of a family going through grief and addiction while trying to hold their fragile family bond together. 

The patriarch of the family, Augustus, dies suddenly and leaves behind an ex-wife, a daughter, a stepdaughter and a live-in girlfriend. These four women are all grieving in their own separate ways. Meadow, Augustus’ ex-wife, was still in love with Augustus, and as the matriarch of the family, she needed to hold her girls close and help them through their own grief. But in doing so, she was at risk of alienating them because she became overly involved in their lives. Maya, Augustus’ biological daughter, was in rehab for alcoholism when her father died. She never forgave him for leaving Meadow so they were estranged. She inherited the house and did her best to stay sober while Meadow hovered a little aggressively threatening her sobriety. Rory, Augustus’ stepdaughter, was absolutely wracked with grief but needed to play referee between Maya and Meadow. Norah was the live-in girlfriend and her role was only as an outsider. 

Although Augustus seemed to have died from a heart attack, there’s a bit of a mystery thrown in there too. So we have a love story, a family saga and a mystery all woven together to make for some very enjoyable reading. I give this book 4 stars and will be recommending it to my book club and my friends and family. 

Thank you NetGalley for the ARC of this book.
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