Cover Image: This Place of Wonder

This Place of Wonder

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

LOVE!!!!!! I really enjoyed When We Believed in Mermaids by this author so I was excited to get my hands on her new book. I was truly pleasantly surprised by this one and literally loved it. A family drama with a bit of mystery, four women are brought together after the death of a loved one. I loved each and everyone of these characters and wanted to spend more time with them on the California coast. The writing was excellent and there was just enough mystery to keep you flying through the pages. I wouldn’t classify this as a mystery or a thriller but adding in those elements really made this book extra special. Def add this to your TBR, people!!
Was this review helpful?
Barbara O’Neal’s latest book tackles blended families, grief and so much more. It’s another beautiful story that so many will be able to relate to certain aspects of.

Told through the perspectives of three women, each with their own personal reasons for both loving and hating the late Augustus Beauvais, this book is a gentle read with beautiful settings and flawed but likeable characters.

I particularly like Barbara O’Neal’s ability to weave in elements that awaken the senses. The hot nights, garlic cooking, beautiful beaches… it all comes alive in her books due to her talent for creating a scene and building her characters into it carefully. Description without it being too much. You’ll be transported to the coastal setting described when you open the pages of this book.
Was this review helpful?
I really enjoyed When We Believed in Mermaids, so I was super excited when I got approved to read an arc of This Place of Wonder. O’Neal’s writing is so descriptive I immediately felt like I was sitting down to dinner with Meadow, Maya, and Rory. I loved all of the descriptions of food, as well as the mystery that’s woven into the daily lives of this blended family. O’Neal really hit it home with the gentle and relatable portrayal of addiction and mental health. I think you’ll really enjoy this family saga. 

4.25 ⭐️

Thank you @netgalley for the early copy of this book
Was this review helpful?
Thank you for NetGalley for providing me with this book for review. Such an powerful emotional read, fell for all of the characters, amazing, read within a day.
Was this review helpful?
As wonderful as this story is, its protagonists are not exactly in a place of wonder as it opens. Unless that wonder is wondering WTF happens now that Augustus Beauvais is dead.

Not in the way that stories like this used to be written, with all of the late man’s “relicts” desperate to figure out how they are going to survive in the literal sense now that their financial support is gone. Thankfully, women’s stories don’t work that way anymore.

But Beauvais was a towering figure (literally as he was 6’4”) in the American culinary scene of the 1990s and early 2000s. And even though his best days may have been behind him, he was still a huge personality and an outsized influence on everyone whose life he touched.

Especially the four women he, in various ways, tried to save. Because he needed to be needed. And because he couldn’t save the one woman who mattered the most.

Meadow was the love of his life, something that was as true on the day he died as it was on the day he met her, even though they had been divorced for eight years because the two things he seems to have been incapable of being were faithful in marriage or alone either inside or outside of it.

Rory, the daughter he adopted and Maya, the daughter he abandoned. And last, but surprisingly not least in the end, Norah, the much, much younger woman he thought needed saving, but who, in the end, turned out to be strong enough to help his family save themselves.

In the aftermath of Beauvais death, in the midst of the suspicious questioning of police who are adding two plus two and reaching a number that might be getting a bit too close to four, Maya learns that the father she never forgave left her everything except one final opportunity to get him to accept the blame for so many things he did that were so very wrong. And Meadow accepts that just because she built a life more or less without him it doesn’t mean that she will ever be ready to let him go – no matter how much she needs to.

Escape Rating A-: Like several of the author’s previous books that I have enjoyed, When We Believed in Mermaids, The Art of Inheriting Secrets and Write My Name Across the Sky, This Place of Wonder is about a multi-generational group of women who share a tragedy in the past that has come crashing down in the present.

What links all four of these women, besides their obvious links to Augustus Beauvais, is that they all see – or at least saw – themselves as damaged. Or perhaps it’s that Beauvais saw them all that way and that’s how he drew them into his orbit – because he needed their damage to fix his own.

Only Meadow – and by extension Augustus, are old enough to even have a past – or at least one far enough in the past for it to be hidden. For good or for ill, Rory’s and Maya’s lives have been lived in the public eye – because of their relationships with August and Meadow.

Who isn’t actually Meadow at all. Or at least wasn’t, back in the days before the internet made all the salacious details of everyone’s life available at the press of a few keys.

Which is what Norah came to California to discover, once upon a not very long ago time, before she got caught up by Augustus’ magnetic pull. And with the loss of his overwhelming presence, its a search she picks back up again. Because Norah is a whole lot stronger, and a whole lot less damaged, than anyone thought.

The stories are on a collision course from the opening of the book. Augustus is dead, in the arms of yet another damaged young woman. His death was sudden, the tests are inconclusive and the stories told by the women in his life almost but not quite match up. At least not until the other half of the story is revealed, and Norah’s probe into Meadow’s past reveals exactly how the past connects to the present.

But for a lot of the book, that investigation is in the background. In the foreground is the way that this strange and damaged family stitches itself together and learns that the hole in their center is something that has always been there. That, in some ways, it’s easier to deal with now that they know it will never be filled. And that they have a way forward without it, and without him, both together and separately.

And it’s that part of the story that gives this its heart. In spite of where they came from. In spite of what was done to them – and in spite of what he did to them as well. That they are, each of them, the legacy of a flawed and fascinating man. And that they are all, together and separately, so much more than that.

And they always have been, even if they haven’t always been able to see it.
Was this review helpful?
Read this if you like: Multiple POV, family drama, strong female leads 

When famous chef Augustus Beauvais has died from a suspected heart attack. He leaves four women to deal with his loss. We get the perspective of all four in this story. 

Meadow, his ex-wife who built an empire and a family with him still holds a place for him in her heart, even as she continues to struggle with his infidelities, which ended their twenty-year marriage. More unforgiving is Maya, his estranged daughter, who’s recently out of rehab but finally ready to reclaim her life. Norah, his latest girlfriend, sidelined her own career for unexpected love and a life of luxury, both of which are now gone with Augustus. Then there’s Rory, Meadow’s daughter, the voice of calm and reason in a chorus of discontent.

Meadow, Maya, Norah, and Rory are thrown together by tragedy, grief, and secrets yet to be revealed. The circumstances around his death are called into question, their conflicted feelings become even more complicated.

I enjoyed this book. I thought it was a little on the slow side but I still liked it. It's a very emotional and heartfelt story. The women characters are strong and very well developed. They are relatable. The story will stay in your mind for a bit. Definitely recommend this one!

Thank you to NetGalley, the author, and Lake Union Publishingfor the gifted copy! ❤️
Was this review helpful?
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.*
Was this review helpful?
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.
Was this review helpful?
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
Was this review helpful?
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.
Was this review helpful?
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.
Was this review helpful?
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.
Was this review helpful?
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/
Was this review helpful?
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.
Was this review helpful?
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.
Was this review helpful?
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.
Was this review helpful?
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.
Was this review helpful?
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.
Was this review helpful?
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.
Was this review helpful?
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!
Was this review helpful?