This Place of Wonder by Barbara O’Neal
Description via the Publisher
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.
Wow, I really wanted to love this book. In 2020 I read my first Barbara O’Neal book When We Believed in Mermaids and absolutely adored the twisting adventure of two sisters; the lush ocean scenery and mysterious characters; even the side romance was pleasant (and romance is not really my thing). I’d been craving to be taken there again, into that sweet oceanic unknown O’Neal created. So when I saw this book I jumped at the opportunity to read it. But it just fell short for me.
Thanks to the multiple character POVs there were a lot of inner thought ramblings that carried on forever and felt unnecessary, as well as repeated information between one character and the next. The characters all had sad backstories (which was supposed to endear them to us) but for some reason they never felt like real people. Since every voice sounded similar, I wasn’t able to hear each character’s voice. I just saw an author in her house freewriting as the thoughts occurred, eating up page count. It didn’t get interesting until about 60% and by that time it felt like it could have benefited from some heavy editing.
The characters had sad backstories (which was supposed to endear them to us) but they never felt like real people to me. Meadow’s story presents itself as uber *mysterious*, something that I should have felt desperate to know, but since the characters weren’t tangible it was difficult to care. There was very little to no action for the entire length of the novel, the inner thoughts just rambled on and on, but in the end I guess the pay off was worth it. The entire read just didn’t sweep me away how I’d hoped and that was a big let down. If it were whittled down to half the length then perhaps it would have shined brighter, but this one missed the mark.
2.5 stars rounded up to 3 for readability. The author does write beautifully and if you don’t mind sinking into a lethargic story about grief then this one could just be the one for you.
Thank you to the publisher for providing a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.