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The Secret of Everything the Secret of Everything
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The Secret of Everything the Secret of Everything

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  2,815 Ratings  ·  346 Reviews
Barbara O'Neal fell in love with restaurants and the secret language of spoons when she was sixteen. She spent more than a decade in various restaurants, dives to cafes to high cuisine, before selling his first novel. O'Neal teaches workshops nationally and internationally, and lives with her partner, a British endurance athlete, in Colorado Springs. "From the Trade Paperb ...more
ebook, 400 pages
Published December 29th 2009 by Bantam (first published December 9th 2009)
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Dec 21, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Secret of Everything is a beautiful story about love and family, good food and gorgeous landscape, faithful dogs and a mysterious town. Tessa is a hiking tour guide who is recovering from a traumatic, near drowning experience. As she recovers strange memories from her mysterious childhood begin to surface. She sets out for Los Ladrones, the small town in New Mexico where she was born, in an attempt to uncover the truth.

What a gorgeous book! The strength here is in the real, down to earth cha
Oct 27, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads, 2009
I am one of the lucky ones who won a copy of this here on Goodreads and can't wait to get started! I loved The Lost Recipe for Happiness by this same author.

Edited to add...

I just finished this book, and I was so moved by it that I had to come right to Goodreads to post my review. I spent about seven hours today, devouring this book, and I enjoyed it so much. It had everything I look for in a book...wonderful characters that I felt an instant connection to, a location that makes me want to book
After a tragic accident on a hike she was leading, Tessa returns to Las Ladronas, the town in New Mexico where she was born. Living with almost overwhelming grief she starts searching for answers to questions that have long been buried. Questions of her childhood and the hippie commune where she lived the first years of her life.

While there she meets Vince, a single father who is raising his three daughters, one of whom is still grieving the devastating loss of her mother.

It's hard to avoid su
Dec 13, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Tessa Harlow enjoyed leading hiking tours until the hike that had a nightmarish ending. Feeling tremendous guilt and responsibility for the incident she goes to her father's home to heal. From the time of the accident she has flashbacks from her early childhood - memories that don't make sense. Feeling a pull to the area where she spent the first years of her life, Tessa heads to New Mexico to scout possible hiking tours and that's where her journey really begins. By meeting people who are new t ...more
I really enjoyed reading this book. It is a magical blend of love, lust, grief and secrets. A mix of magical realism, chick lit, food lit, romance and mystery all in one story.
Quick synopsis: Tessa Harlow is a woman who has travelled the world but never truly found a home. A bad accident brings back long forgotten childhood memories and has her questioning herself so she travels to Las Ladronas, NM to rediscover herself by learning more about her past.
I really liked Tess. I was able to connect w
Sharon A.
Oct 31, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I absolutely loved this book. I had been on a run of reading fairly serious novels (The Historian, The Secret of the Wind), and had been looking for some light reads. Just before I received this goodreads giveaway, I had read an absolutely dreadful, formulaic chick lit/romance. So I probably wasn't in the best frame of mind when I started this one. Interesting premise, but unknown author and very few expectations.

Right off the bat I was smitten with Tess. Tess is in her late 30s, the child of a
Aug 19, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is so good!! I wish there was more stars to give it. The story is great, the characters are so well developed and she has such a beautiful way of kneading them gently and respectively into your experience; but in a way that you don't realize how deeply they have touched your soul. Every single one of them. Natalie is just the best child character I think I've read in a long time. She could have an entire movie, or kids show done about her. A kids show would be great. Anyway, I digress. ...more
Carolyn Hill
I'd give this three and a half stars. For the most part I liked the main character, Tessa Harlow, who leads high end adventure tour hikes with diversions for nice restaurants. Sounds like a good gig to me. But after recovering from injuries in a terrible accident on a hike, she heads to the town of Los Ladrones in New Mexico to search for her past while scouting possible future tour locations. Born in a commune and raised by a former hippie surfer dude, she had nearly drowned in the river there ...more
Kimberly Kincaid
Another incredible offering from Barbara O'Neal, who is now an auto-buy for me, no questions asked. This book had a little bit of a different feel than both Lost Recipe and Perfect Life, but O'Neal's stunning language and insightful, poignant voice shines through from the first chapter. There's a lot of emotion in this book (as with her others), and I was drawn in on page 2, unable to stop thinking about the characters long after I'd put the book down. Tessa is so wonderfully flawed, humble yet ...more
Sep 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Probably my favorite of her books so far. loved the different relationships and her soul searching family discovery
Nov 30, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
"Eating a good hearty breakfast holds the secrets to life"....

Yet, I couldn't figure out why anyone would need a recipe for her 'Hearty Oatmeal' with raisins?
I've been cooking it that way for at least 30 years.

Also, It was the only Soluble Fiber breakfast mentioned in the towns beloved eatery of 100 Breakfasts. The other 99 choices didn't seem to be 'Heart Healthy' (so beware). ---"The Secret to Everything" (caution at your own risk)

On with my review:
The writing was amateurish ---
Jan 31, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
This book doesn't belong in the top tier because it's not life-changing or edifying in any way, but boy does it entertain! It was the quintessential "beach book" and, if truth be told, probably a "chick book." It was just what I needed to push away the winter doldrums and get my mind off anything stressful, and I carried it with me so I could read whenever I was waiting for anything (dentist's office, meetings, etc.).

Tessa Harlow is recuperating from an injury sustained when a landslide occurred
Christina Mitchell
And....another book club read. :oD I would have never picked this up on my own. My honest opinion of the book: great summer beach read! Truly! It is filled with wonderful characters and just enough intrigue without heavy language or symbolism to enjoy from bath, to beach, to sangrias on the deck. It even has a surprise ending.

I gave it only two stars because I truly cannot deal with any romance. None. Zilch. That is my hang up. I fully admit I have a broken heart that calls for the constant repl
Jan 11, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The characters were interesting - all - to a person- emotionally damaged to one degree or another and searching.... The story line, about lost childhood memories of traumatic events surfacing in the present was entertaining, if not finely nuanced - it relied alot on improbable coincidences - so you were either into it or not. The descriptions of the New Mexico scenery were compelling, and there were the requisite steamy love scenes.

As with other O'Neal books food was a key part of the story, an
Nov 11, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, first-reads
FirstReads: This is the best book I have read in a while. There is something for everyone: Mystery, Romance, Food, Dogs, Beautiful Scenery. What more could you ask for?
Tessa is injured in a work accident, nearly drowned. This stirs up memories of her long buried childhood. As she recovers from her physical injuries, she is unable to heal as quickly from the emotional ones. Much to her father's dismay, she returns to the town where she was born, in the New Mexico mountains. There she meets many c
This doesn't seem possible, considering how wonderful "The Lost Recipe for Happiness" and "How to Bake a Perfect Life" are, but it is: "The Secret of Everything" is Barbara O'Neal's best novel. She is a poet in a novelist's body. There will be so many instances when you'll read a line in this one, put the bookmark in the spine, and close it just to think about her descriptions, to smile with pure pleasure at what you've read, to revel in those descriptions. I had a slight interest in New Mexico ...more
Nov 08, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Decent writing, but I feel like the author was just trying to tick off too many boxes with this book: mystery - 60s history - animal lovers - foodie novel (oh, and throw in some offbeat spirituality and some psychological trauma as well)

I think I was most disappointed with the foodie novel part, as that's what actually made me pick this up. She describes food, and even includes recipes, but there was nothing that made me want to toss the book aside and instantly try it. The descriptions just wer
Mar 20, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition

I didn't love this book because I was either annoyed by the characters or ambivalent about them. The plot pretty much lost me at the mention of hippies and a commune. Also, Sam's mention of evil spirits in Los Ladrones (misspelled on the back cover--hilarious) is glossed over. There is one evil spirit, which he would know nothing about.

Vince's mother needs a whack upside her head. Who doesn't buy a kid an apple, especially when she's begging for one and said adult thinks that the k
Maureen Mullis
Mar 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: women-s-fiction
A very well written and interesting story, THE SECRET OF EVERYTHING tells about a young woman finding herself in her hidden past. The thing I like about Barbara O'Neal's books is that they are full of interesting characters and situations that you could easily see yourself in.

At times she is repetitive in her writing (every fountain in the book is "chuckling" for instance) but that is a small thing. Her writing is cohesive and her voice is strong and melodic. If you like women's fiction I would
Dec 21, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book! The New Mexico mountain setting, so similar to my home state of Colorado, the damaged people, adults and children, from an old hippie commune finding healing, the luscious recipes for New Mexico-style breakfasts from the 100 Breakfasts cafe, the love story and more were just perfect. I've loved every one of Barbara Samuel/O'Neal's books that I have read, but this one was truly special. I know Barbara, and she's full of love and old-soul wisdom, and she pours those into her boo ...more
Jan 12, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2012
more mysterious then the other ones...this one had breakfast recipes throughout...YUM and the man...vince...sounds PERFECT for me :)
Jan 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Typical Barbara O'Neal... Good storyline, happy ending and food! Like the plot twists.
Sep 26, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved everything about this book--the characters, the setting, the plot, the prose! Natalie has been added to my top ten list of kids in fiction. Such a real, heart-tugging child!
Nicola Marsh
Jul 19, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Beautifully written, so richly evocative.
Joan Silva
Dec 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fun read. Love her books and storyline
Oct 20, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Review to follow
Gaia Amman
Tessa is a hiking guide in her late thirties and she messed up. She was content with her life, but the accident (no spoilers) forces her to stop and reconsider her choices. She will end up unveiling secrets from her past and changing her direction entirely.

This novel reads very well but it's SO SLOW. It was not boring, I was with it until the end, but the narration was trying to accomplish too many things at once at a very slow pace.

There is the mystery aspect of it: what happened to Tessa? Wha
Sep 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adult-fiction, 2017
I really enjoyed this book. I have read almost all of O'Neal's novels and have adored them all. She has such a lyrical voice throughout her stories and the landscape comes to life so beautifully. I felt like that I was there with Tessa and going through all the struggles with her. Los Ladronas (though I am not sure the town is a real place) sounds so earthy and alive and makes me want to go there immediately. I have been to Santa Fe, NM and the mountains and the air there were just lovely.
I rea
Carla J
It took a bit to get interested but then I really liked this book. It was surprising with just enough mystery to make it unique and not really a typical romance novel. Tessa, injured both physically and emotionally, goes back to the town she left as a child. Her past memories are beginning to have her asking questions about her mother and the children of her youth.
Aug 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I wish the story could have continued! It was written with an eye for beautiful scenery, some great dog friendships, cafe interactions (and recipes!), and family love. My first book by the author, but will read others.
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Barbara Samuel is a multiple RITA award-winning author with more than 38 books to her credit in a variety of genres. She has written historical and contemporary romances, a number of fantasy novellas with the likes of Susan Wiggs, Jo Beverley and Mary Jo Putney. She now writes women’s fiction about families, dogs, and food as Barbara O’Neal.

Her work has captured a plethora of awards, including six
More about Barbara Samuel...
“He sat across from her and took her small hands in his own. "Babe, you don't have to carry the world. I've got it, okay?” 3 likes
“It was as if their feet ran on parallel train tracks and pulled in at the same stations at the same time, over and over.” 3 likes
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