Aloha! I am excited to be today's stop on the TLC book tour for This Place of Wonder, a new novel by Barbara O'Neal. Accompanying my review are a few recipes for Garlic Soup, inspired by my reading.
Set on the stunning, rugged California coastline, 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.
I love Barbara O'Neal's books. I think I have read almost all of them and reviewed three here (The Art of Inheriting Secrets, When We Believed in Mermaids, and Write My Name Across the Sky). She writes about families and family dramas, relationships and romance, and often about second chances and characters forging new paths and finding themselves. They are wonderful summer reads and usually contain some delicious food mentions woven into the story.
This Place of Wonder contains all of the above, about four women according to the blurb (but told from the viewpoints of three of them), all impacted by the life and death of one larger-than-life famous chef. Augustus Beauvais was married to Meadow and together they created a California food empire with a restaurant and a farm. They also created a blended family, his daughter, Maya and her daughter, Rory. Augustus left Maya's addict mother for Meadow and then ultimately cheated on and left Meadow for a string of younger women, lastly Norah, a writer who journeyed to California to meet and write about Meadow and ended up living with and loving Augustus. Maya is in rehab for a drinking problem that reached the tipping point when her husband cheated on her and she burnt their vineyard to the ground. Estranged and bearing resentment for Augustus's betrayal of her and the family, her world is rocked when he suddenly dies. Meadow still loves him and grieves him despite their breakup, and Norah has her settled life with Augustus torn away when Meadow kicks her out of the house to make room for Maya, who leaves her recovery program early with his death. The story is told from their points of view and Rory, happily married with her third child on the way doesn't get to tell her story, but grieves her adopted father heavily.
There are lots of secrets and family drama which only escalates when the police investigate Augustus's death, believing it was more than a heart attack. I was immediately caught up in the story of the women who loved a very complicated man. Barbara O'Neil's writing is beautiful and evocative whether sh is describing the California coast, a bowl of soup, a growing garden, or a family home. There is romance for one character in the book but the relationship between the women is what stands out and watching them grow. This Place of Wonder is the kind of book that sneaks into your heart as you read it, and it made me wish it was longer so I could spend more time with these strong and endearing women.
Connect with Barbara on her website, blog, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Food Inspiration: There is plenty of food in This Place of Wonder as it centers around a restaurant/farm family. It was a passage about Maya cooking her father's famous garlic soup that made me crave a bowl.
"...I taste the soup, garlic sprinkled with Parmesan, layered with parsley, and I have to pause and close my eyes."
Garlic soup is comfort food--simple fare that is restorative and perfect for when you don't want to make a huge effort. Here are three Garlic Soup recipes I love:
Richard Olney's Garlic Soup, Heidi Swanson's Variation: A lovely bowl of creamy garlic heaven!
While none of these soups are exactly like the one in the book, they are all like a tasty hug in a bowl.
review copy of "This Place of Wonder" was provided to me by the author
and the publisher via TLC Book Tours. I was not compensated for this
review and as always, my thoughts and opinions are my own.
You can see the stops for the rest of this TLC Book Tour and learn what other reviewers thought about the book below.
Review Tour Stops:
Monday, July 11th: @books_wine_and_sunshine