Cover Image: This Place of Wonder

This Place of Wonder

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Member Reviews

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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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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