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.
“Kristin Hannah readers will thoroughly enjoy the family dynamic, especially the mother-daughter relationships.” —Booklist (starred review)
“Barbara O’Neal’s latest novel is simply delicious. Engrossing, empathetic, and profoundly moving, I savored every sentence of this story of several very different women who find solace and second chances in each other after tragedy (though not before facing some hard truths and, yes, a few rock bottoms). This Place of Wonder is one of the best books I’ve read in a long time.” —Camille Pagán, bestselling author of Everything Must Go
“I have never much moved in the elevated circles of California farm-to-table cuisine, but O’Neal makes me feel like I’m there. Rather than simply skewering the pretensions, This Place of Wonder pinpoints the passions. Some of these characters have been elevated to celebrity, some are newcomers to the scene, but all are drawn together by the sensuality, the excitement, and ultimately the care that food brings them. Elegiac but also forward-looking, this is a book about eating, but more than that, it’s a book about hurt and healing and women finding their way together. I loved every moment of it.” —Julie Powell, author of Julie & Julia and Cleaving
“This Place of Wonder is a wonderfully moving tale about four women whose journeys are all connected by one shared love: some are romantic, some are familial, but all are deeply complicated. Dealing with loss, love, hidden secrets, and second chances, this stirring tale is utterly engaging and ultimately hopeful. Set along the rugged California coastline, This Place of Wonder will sweep you away with the intoxicating scents, bold flavors, and sweeping views of the region and transport you to a world you won’t be in any hurry to leave.” —Colleen Hoover, #1 New York Times bestselling author
Author interview with Barbara~
a little about yourself and how you started writing.
I’m the author of so many books I’ve lost track—over 50 for sure, but I haven’t counted for awhile. My main gig since 2000 is women’s fiction. Before that, I wrote category and historical romances and won a fistful of RITA awards for them.
I started writing at age five, honestly, by singing story songs to my sisters. By age 12, I’d started writing novels in spiral notebooks and couldn’t really think of anything else I wanted to do, even though everybody around me thought I was reaching a bit above my pay grade. Luckily, I entered the game when romances were hot, hot, hot, and everybody needed material.
What are some things you enjoy when not writing?
Oh, way too many! Painting is a big thing these days, and I’m an earnest amateur but getting better. I love gardening and am a walking fiend, and discovered during the pandemic that travel isn’t just an interest, it’s necessary to my writing process.
How do you start your day (a routine of sorts?)
We get up early, thanks to dogs and cats, eat breakfast and head out to walk the dogs, then I make a fresh cup of tea or coffee and sit down to write. Usually, I have to check social media quickly, but I set a timer of 15 minutes so I want wander into the internet and get lost. I turn on Freedom to lock me out, then meditate for ten minutes. Sometimes, I journal, sometimes I don’t.
Finish this: “I can’t write without…”
Coffee or tea.
What is something about you that would surprise people?
I’m really quite shy. Many writers are, of course, and I love teaching so I had to figure out ways to keep in in check, but that doesn’t change the essential nature.
Where do you get your ideas?
Everywhere. Everywhere. Everywhere. Ideas leap out from every direction. It’s finding the ones that will hold my attention for a year, that I can fashion into something commercial, that I think have some oomph that’s the trick. I have a few that have been nagging me that I can’t quite figure out how to bring to the market, but I haven’t given up.
What are you working on now?
I’ve just turned in my book for 2023, The Starfish Sisters, which is about two women who’ve been friends for decades and a crisis they’re facing in their relationship now.
Is anything in your book based on real-life
I’m fascinated by the bigger-than-life man (or woman, but it’s almost always a man) who strides through life, eating it up and making it more interesting for everybody else—but who also leaves a swath of damage behind him. Augustus Beauvais is that kind of character, and I I really loved writing him. I’ve known a lot of men like him.
Do you have a favorite character?
I love Maya. For me, she’s the heart of the story in many ways. Her piercing struggle to find herself, her truth, her recovery got me to the page and kept me there.
Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
Finish what you start. Finishing books teaches you far more than starting something new over and over.
What are the downfalls of your writing
career? The best parts?
The best part is that I’m basically a reader, and writing a book is just like reading, except that I get to live in the world for a lot longer than I can as a reader. I also love, love, love that I’m communicating intimately with one reader at a time. We have a conversation. That’s so weirdly thrilling.
The downfalls are the same as any creative profession. It takes a tremendous amount of mental and emotional energy to write a book, and there are never any gurantees that it will be a win with readers.
Place you’d like to travel?
Moroccco is pretty high on my list right now for no real reason I can name. I’ve also still not made it to Venice. And India again.
Is there anything you’d like to say to your
readers and fans?
Just….thank you from the bottom of my heart. I love each and every one of you. Let’s keep talking.
To connect with Barbara ~
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