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Madame Mirabou's School of Love: A Novel Paperback – March 28, 2006

26 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Divorce is never easy, and fortysomething Nikki finds herself unwillingly thrust into a major identity crisis. She was happy being a housewife and mother in an upscale neighborhood of Colorado Springs and thought all was well until her husband takes off, and the family house blows up. As she slowly comes out of the fog of divorce, Nikki realizes she needs a job and a place to live, then has to face the clash with her old way of life: her fancy friends can't understand her waitress job: they eat in restaurants, they don't work in them. Nikki veers away from her now strained relationships, makes new friends, and enters the world of dating. As Nikki tries to find herself, her old dream of making perfume as a business instead of a hobby infuses her with purpose, but is she willing to take a risk? With great insight Samuel explores the many problems facing newly divorced women and offers hope and inspiration in the form of one gutsy heroine. Patty Engelmann
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved


Praise for Lady Luck’s Map of Vegas

“Fun, fabulous, fast-paced . . . a complex, beautiful, and moving story that will resonate with you until long after you’ve finished the final pages.”
–Kristin Hannah

“[A] wistful story . . . Samuel sorts out all the relationships with a sure hand.”
–The Seattle Times

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 307 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books (March 28, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345469143
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345469144
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,144,788 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Barbara Samuel (O'Neal) has won the highly prestigious RITA award from Romance Writers of America 7 times and has been recently inducted into the RWA Hall of Fame. In the tradition of Kristin Hannah, Susan Wiggs, Maeve Binchy, and Barbara Freethy, she writes a highly emotional stories about families, food, dogs, and love. Many of her novels include recipes, and she has been known to cook in response to any stressful situation, learning that cooking is like life--sometimes things go wrong, but if you keep trying, eventually you'll get it right.

She also writes as Barbara O'Neal for Bantam books, where she has penned the award-winning The Lost Recipe For Happiness and How To Bake A Perfect Life, which was a Target Book Club Pick in 2011. She also wrote five titles of romantic women's fiction for Ballantine Books, including No Place Like Home, The Goddesses of Kitchen Avenue and Lady Luck's Map of Vegas. Her books have been translated into many languages and published widely around the world, including France, England, Poland, Australia, Italy, Germany, Brazil, and many others.

Barbara lives in the stunningly beautiful city of Colorado Springs with her beloved, a British endurance athlete who vows he'll never loose his accent.

She loves to talk with readers. Find her around the web in these avenues:

Websites: and
The Goddess Blogs:

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By E. Northrop on May 18, 2006
Format: Paperback
This novel tells a really lovely story about a recently-divorced woman reluctantly being forced to start her life over and find happiness and fulfillment.

All the characters are very well-written and well thought-out. Each one has a meaning and is not there for filler. I found all the emotions of the main character to be authentic, and her growing in fits and starts true to her situation - someone who did not want a divorce and grappled with so many emotions for her ex-husband (continuing love, anger, confusion), her daughter, her new friends, and eventually her promising new love.

The title of this novel suggests that it's some kind of quirky chick-lit story, but I think that is misleading. It is a novel of humor, yes, but not without lots of layers of other emotions. It even touches on depression and anorexia in the context of a secondary character in a thoughtful way.

I really enjoyed reading this book and was dreading the last page. It was a very satisfying reading experience.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Armchair Interviews on March 29, 2006
Format: Paperback
For all the women who have loved, sacrificed themselves to that love and then lost it, Madame Mirabou's School of Love will resonate deep in their souls.

Nicole (Nikki) Carrington's house exploded due to an old and faulty furnace. It was the only thing of value that she received from her eighteen-year marriage to Daniel. Daniel even got custody of their fifteen-year-old daughter Giselle, who he has taken to London on vacation with his new wife. It's a trip Nikki always wanted to take and now she's homeless and "the other woman" is living her life.

At forty-three Nikki is firmly ensconced in a land called panic, fear and anxiety. But without the comfort of the family home, she is forced to leave her neighborhood and friends and find a new home in an apartment complex nicknamed Splitsville.

Without Nikki's insurance settlement she is low on cash, not to mention self-esteem. She takes a job as a waitress in a popular Colorado organic restaurant. There she learns to enjoy her work, the other employees and meets a dark, handsome and mysterious man from England.

Nikki takes stock of her life, explores the unrealized dream of owning a perfumery and realizes that her new eccentric neighbors are more real and a much better fit for her than those from the old neighborhood. Along the way she finds herself and learns that she can be happy and love again, if that is what she chooses.

Barbara Samuel's writing is complex, poignant, humorous and at times lyrical. Her story could be every woman's story and will touch your heart as the reader examines their life and the choices they make.

This is the first Barbara Samuel novel I have read--and it won't be the last.

Armchair Interviews says: Her characters are so real, you feel like you know them and when the last page is turned, you don't want to say good-bye.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A reader from Missouri on November 5, 2006
Format: Paperback
I absolutely drooled all over Barbara Samuel's MADAME MIRABOU'S SCHOOL OF LOVE. I've been a Barbara Samuel (Who's also known as Ruth Wind when she writes for Harlequin.)fan for a long, long time. There's something about the rich flow of her language and her close-to-the-bone insight into her characters that fascinates me. I love that her books are about life, not necessarily as neat and pretty as we wish it was, but as it is. She writes about the struggles regular people face with eloquence and compassion. MADAME MIRABOU'S SCHOOL OF LOVE tells another one of these wonderful, rich, fabulous stories.

Nikki Carrington is recently divorced and unwilling or unable to let go of her former life until her house blows up. Left with nothing, she is homeless, jobless, and out of sync with who she used to be. To try to recover from the loss and rediscover the woman within, Nikki gets an apartment that happens to be in a building with another divorced woman and a soldier's wife, left behind when her husband is deployed. It is these women, and the women in the restaurant where Nikki gets a waitressing job, who encourage her and help her develop the courage to pursue dreams long set aside. As Nikki moves toward a life beyond her divorce and into a the tender beginnings of a new relationship, her neighbor Wanda, who helped Nikki regain her perspective, reveals the devastation that can occur when a woman refuses to grow and change.

Samuel recently won the Romance Writers of America® coveted Rita Award for her last book LADY LUCK'S MAP OF LAS VEGAS; I look for MADAME MIRABOUS SCHOOL OF LOVE to be a hot contender for next year's Rita.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By ChefCheyanne VINE VOICE on June 15, 2006
Format: Paperback
Betrayal, from a friend, co-worker or even worse--your spouse is devastating. The whole process of one step forward and two steps back can seem so pointless unless you persist long enough to finally turn around and see how far you've come. This author

handles the horrible process of spouse betrayal and the recovery process with wisdom and sensual writing. Her use of perfumes

and their descriptions create a safe spot for the female lead to retreat to as well as create an entire new category to learn about. Discussions of essences and beautiful bottles, work in a fragant restaurant bring in food and menus and when the greatest new guy shows up! I almost held my breath all the way through the courtship! This is a delightful book about love, recovery, healing and could be enjoyed by everyone from teen to senior.
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