Cover Image: This Place of Wonder

This Place of Wonder

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Member Reviews

I LOVE this author! Her writing is just so beautiful and unique it sweeps you in immediately into a rich world of color, scent food and all other ways. The thread about addiction is blunt and honest and I believe many readers who are recovering addicts or have dealt with close friends or family members with addiction issues will relate and find pure wisdom here. The pace is gentle which is good given the heavy subject matter and there is a touch of mystery involved. The ending was so worth the wait this is a touching story that made me cry and I felt like I needed just that! This is a five stars for me hands down
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I absolutely loved When We Believed in Mermaids a couple of years ago and I was excited to see a new book out by Barbara O’Neal. This one was a little too slow-going for me. When Augustus apparently dies of a sudden heart attack, everyone is in shock. 4 women go back and forth with their back stories and frankly I just didn’t care how this was going to end. This will not deter me from reading other books by her because she’s an excellent author. This one just fell flat for me. Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for this early release in exchange for my honest review.
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Loved loved loved. Barbara O’Neal will move to the top of my must read authors. All her books are fabulous and this one is no exception. Thrilled to have gotten an advanced copy!
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This is a tough one, and I'm definitely torn.

First, let's start with the positives. O'Neal is an atmospheric writer. The settings on this were multifaceted and absolutely came alive: restaurant, vineyard, sprawling home, coffee shop, shoreline, and so forth. There was a richness there, and my senses were engaged. I appreciated that, since that isn't always easy to do. (Perhaps the title is a veiled reference to one of these places, if not a conglomerate of them.)

I also felt that O'Neal is doing a good job talking about family relationships and the ways in which different people interact in the face of tragedy. What do you when the patriarch of a family, for all his good and bad, suddenly passes away? How do you move on? I don't feel O'Neal made any particular grand insights in this, but I do believe that her characters explored this terrain well.

But I had a couple of issues. One, and this is a personal one, I don't really need all these random asides into romance - and it did play a role more than I would have anticipated from the cover. (I judge books by their cover, and that's the risk I take!) Still, that comes with the territory, and I often need to grin and bear it.

A larger issue here, and I'm not quite sure what it is, is that I didn't find this book too compelling. I read a lot of books simultaneously, but that's intentional: those that pull me in are ones I'll gravitate toward more. As I read several, I found that I always put this one on the background, even knowing the deadline. So that gave me a bit of a signal that something might be awry.

And I have a possible hypothesis: This book has three dueling narrators, which is a common trend these days, and though I typically like that, I felt this could've been better with one. I found the voices of Meadow, Norah, and Maya all pretty similar and almost indistinguishable after awhile. I really liked Maya's conceit and even how the book opens, with her destroying all the wine bottles to her vineyard in an attempt to salvage her sobriety (I'm not 100% sure if I have that plot detail correct). This was engrossing and a real attention getter, and I felt her story was the most compelling overall. And I think focusing on her a bit more would've helped keep my interest.

Overall, it was an okay read; I don't regret reading it and enjoyed the experience, but it's not necessarily one that typifies what I enjoy most in literature. Still, thanks to Lake Union Publishing for the ARC!
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Another wonderful book filled with perfectly imperfect characters by one of my favorite authors.  Charismatic chef, Augustus Beauvais has died suddenly and left behind four women to grieve;  Meadow, his ex-wife, Maya, his daughter, Rory, his stepdaughter, and Norah, his most recent lover. The story is told in three POV’s through which we get to know the characters and their histories.  I loved the food and drink references as well as the rugged California Coastal backdrop.  I highly recommend This Place of Wonder!
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I love Barbara O’neals style - I was lucky enough to get this gem from netgalley and to repay the access to this I just went and bought “lost girls of Devon” because I have faith I will love that too! 
I had to request this because I just loved what she did in “write my name across the sky” and the style and talent continues to shine here! She does such a wonderful job pulling you in and keeping you hooked , the character development is spot on and makes it hard to pick a favorite! She is also an expert at writing multiple points of view stories, somehow making it so easy to track and switches without disrupting the flow of the story or taking you out of it. I love that she writes such strong yet vulnerable women characters speaking to the reality of womanhood and the struggles but also promoting understanding and mutual support etc. 

This touches on so many topics : grief and loss , addiction , incest , sexual assault , childhood trauma, familial relations… even with all the “darkness” and drama it is still a great story and can be uplifting and inspiring 

I highly recommend you go get this one and all of her others.
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While this was a good story, it wasn't quite for me. It didn't have much of an element of suspense. I couldn't relate to the characters very well, two of which spent all of the book in sorrowful mourning of someone who cheated on them repeatedly. The writing was very good, the story had good flow, there just wasn't enough intrigue for me to stay interested for long. Special thanks to the author and NetGalley for a free e-ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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This was my first book from this author and I can clearly see why she has so many loyal readers. A Place of Wonder is a light-ish read ideal for those who are looking for a feel-good story that is not silly or superficial.

We follow 4 women in the aftermath of the death of a famous Chef. As each of them processes her fellings and grieves her father/ex-husband/lover we see the different reactions to trauma as well as their personal challenges and secondary plot-lines. It is a predictable plot but well executed and with a  fluid writing style and great descriptions of both people and nature. I'll try something else from this author for sure!
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This Place of Wonder by Barbara O'Neal is a captivating story about a unique family living on the California Coast. Told from multiple POVs, the story follows the aftermath of the death of a famous chef, Augustus Beauvais. His ex-wife Meadow, estranged daughter Meadow fresh out of rehab, and current girlfriend Norah all must work to come to terms with their histories to be able to move forward.

O'Neal is able to capture such emotion and intricacies of family relationships in a way that the reader really feels like they know they characters. She weaves the story in a way that makes you feel the pain, but without also losing hope and finding some joy too.

I recommend this one for anyone who previously enjoyed other works of Barbara O'Neals, as I feel like this one has me saying  "she's done it again!" For readers who have not yet read her work, but look for moving stories of complicated family relationships, love, loss, and hope.... give this one a try!

Thank you to NetGalley, Lake Union Publishing and Barbara O'Neal for an eARC in exchange for an honest review.
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Every book by Barbara O’Neal that I’ve ever read has always engrossed me immediately, and I don’t want to put it down until I’m done. This one was no different. 

There are so many interesting characters in these pages:  Meadow, a successful businesswoman, farmer, cook, and mother, who is still in love with her ex-husband. Maya, the recovering alcoholic who needs to figure out what to do with a life that no longer includes alcohol or her father, a man with which she had a love-hate relationship. Norah, a would-be writer and former foster child who came for a story and stayed for her older lover. They all saw Gus differently, and they all have to come to terms with his death in their own ways. 

My only real complaint is that I’m not a big fan of the charismatic, larger-than-life man that gets away with being a jerk just because he’s so perfect. Gus was one of those type of men, and the hero-worship falls a bit flat for me. That, and I did feel that Rory got a bit shafted, both in her story and by her mother and Gus. 

That said, this story was a lot of fun with some definite surprises that unfolded gradually. Maya’s alcoholic cravings felt very real to me, as did the effect her issues had on her whole family. This was a terrific read, and I would definitely recommend it. 

My thanks to the author for an ARC of this book. My opinions are my own.
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DNF - read to 50% and I couldn’t get into the storyline or characters enough to finish the book. I really enjoyed her first book.
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THIS PLACE OF WONDER by Barbara O'Neal

I really enjoyed Barbara O'Neal's previous book, WHEN WE BELIEVED IN MERMAIDS, and was very excited to have the opportunity to read her new novel. O'Neal is a master of atmospheric settings - once again we are taken to a house on the rugged Californian coast that makes for a fantastic backdrop. Famous chef Augustus Beauvais has died suddenly, leaving behind Meadow, his ex-wife, his daughter Maya, stepdaughter Rory and mistress Norah. As each of these women have to come to terms with their grief, their relationships are slowly being unveiled, revealing complex histories rooted in tragedy and pain.

Told through the POVs of three of the women, we slowly get to explore how each of them related to Augustus, as well as the man himself, seen from many different angles. O'Neal does a great job in exploring how one and the same person can be perceived so differently, depending on the viewer. Whilst Meadow, who has known Augustus the longest, still considers him her soul mate, despite his infidelities and their messy split, his daughter Maya has never forgiven him. For Norah, Augustus is a generous saviour from a lonely and sad childhood in multiple foster homes, and Rory adores him as a lovable and generous grandfather to her children. O'Neal tries to introduce an element of mystery into the story when Augustus' death is being questioned by police, though I never really felt this aspect convincing enough to keep me yearning for answers.

Whilst I particularly enjoyed exploring the sister relationship between Rory and Maya, I admit that the story ended up dragging a little bit for me. Even though Maya's struggle with addiction was portrayed in an insightful manner, the constant references to AA and her relationship with alcohol bogged the story down for me. I didn't warm to any of the characters, especially Augustus, who came across as selfish and ruthless rather than the enigmatic character he was portrayed to be. Also, I would have loved to hear from the POV of Rory, the only character who doesn't get a voice. 


THIS PLACE OF WONDER will appeal to readers who like a slow burning, character driven story exploring topics such as relationships, addiction, infidelity and grief. Personally, I found it a little slow and thought that in this case the multiple POVs were a bit repetitive, though it certainly prompted reflection and kept me interested until the end.
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An extremely slow burner. It took me a long time to read this book as it didn’t hook me in. The final chapters had a bit of a twist but I feel the book needed something more, much earlier on.
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This book was so good!  I read it in 2 nights...very good story, the characters were so interesting & the book was riveting!  Loved the ending.   Meadow, Maya, Norah, and Rory are all women who have loved or still love Augustus, a very complex man who loves women.  When tragedies hit the family, the women must find a way to deal with the fallout & each other.
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A lovely, lovely book with the sadness and grief artfully written and characters that display so many deep emotions.
Four women struggle with the sudden death of an ex-spouse, father, lover. Meadow has loved Augustus since they first met. Theirs was a deep but faulty love born out of their love for creating food from his mastery and her garden. Rory is Meadow’s daughter raised by Augustus. Their relationship was close and carefree. Maya is his daughter and their relationship was fraught with mistakes and on her side, anger. Norah was his last girlfriend reliant upon him for the touch of humans and deep devotion. All four women are deeply affected by his death. This is the story of their recovery.
I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
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Four ladies are thrown together by tragedy’s and between them they have a lot of secrets which come to light , a nice read ..
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The story description says we get an insight into 4 women after the death of a man they all had some sort of relationship with; we only really see 3. The POVs are mainly in Meadow, Maya and Norahs view but we don’t get many (if any) first hand interaction with Rory, which was a shame. There needs to be a trigger warning page for the topics discussed described in the book.
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Another great book from Barbara O’Neal! She carefully guides you through the lives of three women each grieving the same man in different ways. I loved the alternating first-person perspectives between Maya (daughter), Meadow (ex-wife), and Norah (current girlfriend). If you are a fan of character-focused women’s fiction, this one is for you! Full review to come closer to the review date.
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This book kept my attention throughout. The climax left a little to be desired in terms of my overall rating. That being said, I enjoyed the complex characters and how different their relationship was with the same man.
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Thanks NetGalley for opportunity to read this prerelease book for honest review. This book was enjoyable but nothing extra special. Honestly, I finished it about a week ago, and I  can’t  really remember much detail.
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