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.
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.
I read my first book of Barbara O'Neal's when I read "When We Believed in Mermaids" and she hasn't failed me yet. This book was captivating and drew me in from the very first pages. I loved it so much, I set everything aside and finished it within a day! "This Place of Wonder" balances delicately between an amazing love story and a mystery. You spend the first half of it thinking you're reading a romance then you're blindsided.
"This Place of Wonder" follows the lives of three women - Meadow, Maya, and Norah - after the death of famous chef, Augustus Beauvais. Meadow was the love of Augustus' life who built a food empire alongside him. Maya is Augustus' daughter, Meadow's stepdaughter, who is in recovery after leading an alcoholic life and hasn't spoken to her dad in years. And Norah is Augustus' most recent girlfriend, who was really in the picture to get the truth about Meadow. When Augustus mysteriously dies in his restaurant, the three women are thrown together to overcome their grief and find out what really happened to Augustus.
A love story between husband and wife, mother and daughter, sisters, and friends... If you're wanting to read a heartfelt book with a little bit of mystery, you'll love this!
Barbara O'Neal is a wonderful author. Several of her earlier books were go good I was afraid "This Place of Wonder" would lack something to keep my attention. But I was wrong! This is a great story and I was quite surprised by the end., The woman are all portrayed as strong, willing or trying to handle what is thrown their way. My favorite author would be Meadow who overcame so much in her youth put pushed on to make a name for herself. I highly recommend this book and author.
This is a uniquely written story with empowered characters that will stay with you long after you finish the book. I read this in one sitting which is rare for me. The first book for me to read by this author but I cannot wait to read more. Highly recommend!
Thank you NetGalley and Lake Union Publishing for the eARC.
This book focuses on 4 women, all of whom loved the same charismatic, larger-than-life man, Augustus. The setting is California and the beach restaurant, house and farm. When Augustus, a famed chef, dies, the 4 women: ex-wife, live-in girlfriend and 2 daughters, are inconsolable and to make life more difficult, the police are holding Gus' body, pending further examinations and tests.
I had a hard time liking Gus, although there is redemption towards the end of the story. The ex-wife was a bit too controlling, but I liked the 2 step-sisters. They're very close and loving towards each other. But my favorite character was Norah, the girlfriend, who was booted out of the house she's lived in for almost a year by the ex-wife. Luckily, she's invited back in by Gus' daughter. I was glad, because I really liked and admired her.
I thoroughly enjoyed this read, as I have enjoyed all of Barbara O'Neal's other books.
I absolutely loved When We Believed in Mermaids and so I jumped at the chance to read This Place of Wonder. I can honestly say this was just as good! I was sucked in from the very beginning and felt that this book read at a very nice pace. I liked the four main characters and was interested in each of their stories and how they tied together.
After my disappointment with the author’s previous novel (Write My Name Across the Sky), I was very happy to explore this latest offering, which seemed more in alignment with her talent of marrying interesting characters with food-themed storylines.
Maya Beauvais, after destroying her life’s work in an alcohol-fueled rage, has landed in rehab. In the midst of her recovery, she is informed that her father, celebrity chef and restauranteur Augustus, has died unexpectedly. Much of the story revolves around the consequences of her actions and her re-entry into “normal” life without drinking.
It is the death of this man with a larger-than-life personality that draws together four women who are grieving his passing in their own unique ways. As the bond between these women is forged under unusual circumstances, some hard truths are revealed and faced.
Maya, his estranged biological daughter, is dismayed that she no longer has the opportunity to work through her issues with him.
Meadow, his ex-wife, was married to Augustus for 20 years and together they built an empire centered on unique and wholesome food. While they have been divorced for eight years, they have maintained their business relationship and still have deep feelings for each other.
Meadow’s daughter, Rory, was adopted by Augustus who treated her as his own daughter. She has the most conventional life with a husband and children and serves as the calm voice of reason even though she is devastated by his death.
And, finally, there is Norah who sidelined her career when she was taken in by the chef’s charisma and the promise of a life of wealth and comfort as his most recent mistress. Now that this dream has evaporated into thin air, she is faced with starting over.
O’Neal’s writing is clear and engaging. All the characters are flawed and yet they are likeable, and most certainly believable, as they struggle with their individual and collective loss. The description of Maya’s adjustment to a whole new lifestyle as a recovering addict is detailed and realistic without being overly dramatic or maudlin. Overall, this is a well-composed and entertaining novel that drew me in from the first chapter and kept me moving through the story at a good pace.
My thanks to the author, the publisher, and NetGalley for the privilege of reviewing this book. The opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
This review is being posted immediately to my GoodReads account and will be posted on Amazon upon publication.
Barbara O'Neal's novel, This Place of Wonder, is not a mystery. It is adult fiction and a novel to savor and enjoy and even reread.
I have read many of O'Neal's novels, loved some and enjoyed some and tolerated some. I loved, loved, loved This Place of Wonder. I will not offer spoilers. Instead, it is enough to say that this most recent O'Neal novel is about the connections that are forged between women. Unlike much of her earlier writing, mostly under Barbara Samuels, her most recent novels have moved away from romance and into a much more interesting focus on the lives of strong women and how they find their voices and what connects them. These connections are explored with the kind of love and support that I find especially appealing. O'Neal's writing is solid and flows well. She embraces her readers with a love for language in its most beautiful form and with a clarity that is too often missing in contemporary novels. Obviously, I loved this book and recommend it with enthusiasm.
Thank you to the author and to the publisher for making this novel available as an ARC. My comments are my own option. If readers have read my previous reviews, they quickly learn that I am not shy about saying so when a book just does not succeed for me. Thanks NetGalley for making this novel available.
“This Place of Wonder” by Barbara O’Neal is a contemporary (post-pandemic) book.
What attracted me to requesting this book was the Publisher’s summary - the mystery surrounding Augustus’s death along with the four women grappling with his death I thought sounded very interesting. The beginning I found very interesting - in fact I thought the opening was fantastic - until I realized that it was in the past, setting up Maya’s storyline. Maya and Meadow’s story lines I felt were sound - it was easy to figure out what made them tick, how they saw themselves, and how deeply they felt about Augustus’s passing. With Norah, I read her survival instincts kick in, but the digging around in Meadow’s past felt more like a wanna-be revenge expose (which Meadow rightfully called her on) opposed to more than mourning. Rory, I felt, was the least explored character - she’s there, but more on the fringes.
Ms. O’Neal writes very descriptively. While I could “see and feel” the “stunning, rugged California coastline” the Publisher’s summary mentions, I conjured that from knowing what Southern California looks like. I found much more interesting the sections about the hills and valleys were the forest fires potentially burned - possibly destroying Meadow’s farm.
This book, sadly, just didn’t work for me. I found the mystery of Augustus’s death akin to an underlying plot device, but except to possibly bring two characters closer together, it didn’t add much for me. I found Maya interesting and human. I never felt like I got to really know Rory. Parts of this book worked, but large portions didn’t wow me in the end. A solid 2.5, rounded up to 3 because, honestly, while it was an “okay” read (2 stars), it was better than just okay.
I do believe that if someone has read and enjoyed Ms. O’Neal’s other books, this one might also be one to put on your TBR. This was my second book by her so I think that, sadly, she’s just not the writer for me.
Full review to come on Goodreads and Amazon. Thank you to the publisher, author, and NetGalley for a review copy.
Beautiful! Loved every second of it! The cover is stunning and I would absolutely purchase a paper copy to have on my shelf.
ARC from NetGalley - O'Neal's writing is descriptive and detailed, and I enjoyed the multiple point of views from the which the story unfolds.. I thought the plot moved along faster in some sections of the novel than in others, but strong storytelling prevailed. I would recommend for people who have enjoyed her other books and those who enjoy complicated family relationships.
This was kind of a letdown for me. I expected it to touch on deeper themes since this story was about grief and loss. But I felt unsatisfied with how the story went. But I can still see how other people would enjoy this book. It just didn't click with me.
I love previous books by Barbara O'Neal and this was just as good! I was sucked in from the very beginning and felt that this book read at a very nice pace. I liked the four main characters and was interested in each of their stories and how they tied together.
This Place of Wonder deserves literally everything! Can't get over this one!
Barbara O'Neal is an excellent storyteller and this book draws you in immediately.
The characters are flawed, but likeable and very believable.
Meadow, Maya, Norah, and Rory I couldn't help but feel for these four amazingly strong ladies.
As intriguing as this novel is and as much as I freaking loved it there is also amazing details here, very descriptive.... the way this author writes is something special and everyone should read at lest one of her books.
A fabulous setting, really interesting characters, and a really intriguing story about loss, anger, pain and forgiveness.
O'Neal is a masterful storyteller, and it truly shows here within these pages, she was able to pull this together the way she did is amazing.
A beautiful story that will keep you gripped along the way as you uncover all the secrets and drama this is one not to be missed!
Lake Union Publishing,
Thank you for this eARC!
I will post to my blog and platforms close to pub date!
I have read, and loved, every book written by Ms. O'Neal under all the names she has written under. Each has been more magical than the last. I loved meeting and spending time with the characters of This Place of Wonder.