This Place Of Wonder by Barbara O’Neal


In the wake of a personal tragedy, four women face the past, their futures, and each other in a novel of broken ties and healing by the Amazon Charts bestselling author of When We Believed in Mermaids.

When famed chef Augustus Beauvais dies, he leaves behind a celebrated reputation—and four women grappling with loss, anger, pain, and the question of how the world will turn without him…

Meadow, the ex-wife with whom Augustus built an empire—and a family—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. And then there’s Rory, Meadow’s daughter, the voice of calm and reason in a chorus of discontent.

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.

Set on the stunning, rugged California coastline, This Place of Wonder is an emotional, lush, and empowering story of four women finding their way in a changed world—and what a wondrous journey it will be.

My thoughts

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 woman’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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