I can’t tell you how excited I was to start a new Barbara O’Neal book. I’ve read a good deal of her back catalog and am working on the rest. But when she releases a new book, you read it.
Told in 3 varying viewpoints, we watch the women in Augustus’ life deal with the aftermath of his death. From his daughter, Maya, fresh out of rehab, his ex-wife, Meadow, and his current girlfriend, Norah, we watch their lives from the past to the present. All three are tied together through their love for Augustus.
This read felt a bit different for me. At first, I wasn’t all that invested in Norah, and then that switched, and I found myself uninterested in Meadow. And I definitely didn’t like Augustus. The entire “love story” is based on a man who doesn’t take love all that seriously and is a consummate cheater. But you don’t have to connect with the characters to enjoy a story.
If I had any issue, and for me, it’s a rather big issue, is how PTSD is thrown around in this book. PTSD because of taking an ax to wine barrels. Also, “varying levels of PTSD over…” the fires in California. Yes, absolutely, facing wildfires can cause PTSD. But here’s the thing, if there were legit diagnoses of PTSD and not just thrown around like a buzzword, I would totally be on board with that. But in the way it is written, it’s not serious, it’s blasé, and it does a disservice to actual sufferers. So why even put it in the book?
Aside from all of that, there is a good story underneath the blasé attitude towards mental health. I think if you can get past the issues, readers will find this enjoyable.
About the Book
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.
2 thoughts on “This Place of Wonder, Barbara O’Neal”
Terrific review, Rae. I liked your comment about PTSD, it’s a very serious illness and a representation in the book should be well researched and applied appropriately.
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