Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Tangled Ashes by Michele Phoenix

When Marshall Becker arrives in Lamorlaye, France, to begin the massive renovation of a Renaissance-era castle, he unearths a dark World War II history few in the village remember. The project that was meant to provide an escape for Becker instead becomes a gripping glimpse into the human drama that unfolded during the Nazi occupation and seems to live on in midnight disturbances and acts of vandalism.

Populated with a cast of complex characters, “Tangled Ashes” follows Becker’s exploration of the castle’s shadowy past as he seeks to cope with an unbearable present. From the virtually mute recluse who lives in the gatehouse to the feisty and enigmatic nanny of the owner’s children, every one of the ch√Ęteau’s inhabitants seems to have something to hide and something to survive—but none more so than Becker himself.

My review:

      This book is actually two stories in one that both merge into the same story at the end of the book. The modern day story centers around Becker, a construction and restoration expert that is in France against his wishes to restore a castle. Becker is battling alcoholism and other demons, including anger and disappointment with God.

    The other story is set during World War II and covers a"baby factory" for Hitler, and gives a fascinating fictional look into actual happenings.

   In a story such as this, there was a surprising lack of romance, at least in the modern part of the story, and I actually like the fact that the author didn't tie everything up in a tidy bow at the end. The main characters are making progress in their personal battles, but not everything is resolved.

  I've never read anything by this author, but I really enjoyed the book. She does a great job of telling two stories and merging them seamlessly, and also of portraying life in the setting of France that she uses as her setting. One thing I would change: she tossed some French words and phrases around the book, and since I don't know any French, I was clueless. I wish there had been a glossary to define and explain those.

   I knew nothing of baby factories for Hitler and found that interesting to read about. I would recommend this book and author. Great plot, setting, and characters.

About the author:

Born in France to an American mother and a Canadian father, Michele Phoenix is an international writer with multi-cultural sensitivities. A graduate of Wheaton College, she taught writing, music, and theater at the boarding school for missionaries' children she attended as a teenager. She currently works for Global Outreach Mission as an advocate for Third Culture Kids, helping them transition back into North American culture and educating stateside churches and missions about the special needs of this people group.
Michele lives in Wheaton, Illinois.

Visit michelephoenix.com for more information.

Tangled Ashes is available from Tyndale Publishing.

Thanks to Handlebar Marketing for the review copy.