Renovating a Renaissance-era castle in France, Marshall Becker unearths a dark secret from World War II. From the virtually mute gatekeeper to the feisty nanny of the owner's children, all of the chateau's inhabitants seem to have something to hide. Will Becker solve the mystery, or will midnight disturbances and acts of vandalism dissuade him? Approx. 250 pages, softcover from Tyndale.
Average Customer Rating:
(7 Reviews) 7
Rating Snapshot(7 reviews)
6 out of 786%customers would recommend this product to a friend.
Customer Reviews for Tangled Ashes
Review 1 for Tangled Ashes
Date:June 17, 2013
This story was fascinating. Some of the turns it took were surprising. It also took an honest look at how hard it can be to break an addiction once you have one.
Summary: A historical refurbisher who struggles with alcoholism finds himself in France working to repair the damage done to a centuries old castle. After finding himself grossly beyond his comfort zone, his life changes after interacting with the other people working on restoring the castle to it's former glory.
I'm going to mention the heavy symbolism between restoring the castle and restoring the main character's life here, right down to the point where the two have major setbacks simultaneously, and move on.
The book flashes back and forth between the 1940's and the present. During WW2, the castle was a lebensborn where women carrying the children of Nazi soldiers went to give birth to future citizens of the Third Reich. It was these portions of the story I found most intriguing. One almost gets the feel that perhaps this is the novel the author wanted to write, but instead found herself fleshing out the plot with the modern day.
Part of the story is mystery/suspense. We wonder who people's real identities are, who is defacing the hard work to restore the structure. The main character goes through a slow and painful growth, trying over and over again to reach out and failing. His love interest is alternately helpful and antagonistic, bewildering until her backstory is explained.
Once everyone's full history is made clear and all the secrets are revealed, it would have been nice if there had been a little more resolution and communication between the characters. The book finishes with something of a european ending, not a happy ending. The problems are resolved, but we are left emotionally hanging.
If you love architectural fiction, WW2 fiction, fiction set in france, or books which end like they may be waiting for a sequel, then this book is right up your alley.
This book is a fantastic historical version reminiscent of the idea “if walls could talk”. There have been many times I have been in older homes and I wished they could tell their story! I love the way it is written, alternating between the present day and the historical time period. In modern day time, Becker, a very troubled, angry, alcoholic is more or less tricked by his business partner into going to France and renovating an ancient castle. The owner is a jovial and very wealthy man, Mr. Fallon. His deadline for the main part of the castle is for a party for his pregnant wife’s 40th birthday. The renovation is extensive and the date set seems almost impossible. Becker has become bitter and withdrawn throughout the years and is stretched to the limit with the jobs demands, a very nervous French designer he is forced to work with, and Fallon’s nanny and two children who spend each day there. The historical time is in the 1940’s during WW2 and Hitler’s occupation in France at this very castle. Two young girls, Marie and Elise, are hired as housemaids by Heinrich Himmler who used the castle to house the Lebensborn Program. Both Himmler and program actually existed during WW2. I had read about and seen documentaries about this program. It was part of Hitler’s plans for a “perfect race”. Young unmarried women became pregnant by German soldiers. They were cared for and pampered by the Third Reich until they delivered their babies. After delivery, they left and their babies stayed to be eventually adopted out to German couples and be raised as Nazi’s. Falling in love with a German stableman, Elise is influenced by the propaganda and becomes pregnant by him. After she becomes a resident in the chateau, she begins to realize what she has done and that she will lose her baby. The girl’s lives and the discoveries Becker makes during the renovation being to interconnect. There are many surprises, twists, and turns in the story. I was never bored, always wanting to read further. I found several spiritual lessons within the story about loyalty, facing our problems with faith, forgiveness, and caring in the face of rejection. This was a great book! It was my first book to read by Ms. Phoenix and I look forward to more. I received this book free from Handlebar Publishing in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255
Michele Phoenix in her new book, “Tangled Ashes” published by Tyndale House Publishers brings us into the life of Architect Marshall Becker.
From the Back Cover: After invading Lamorlaye, France, Nazi officials don’t hesitate to take over the beautiful Meunier manor as their headquarters, hiring two young Frenchwomen, Marie and Elise, who clean and launder to help supplement their families’ meager incomes. But the girls begin to grow suspicious when medical equipment arrives, followed by an influx of pregnant women. As the Nazis’ plans for the manor become clear, the girls must decide where their loyalties truly lie.
More than fifty years later . . .
Architect Marshall Becker arrives in Lamorlaye to begin the massive renovation of a Renaissance-era castle. 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 bizarre acts of vandalism.
Becker explores the castle’s shadowy history as he seeks to cope with the demons from his own past. Only Jade, the feisty nanny of the owner’s children, is willing to stand up to him. But Becker soon discovers that every one of the château’s inhabitants seems to have something to hide and something to protect—and something worth fighting for.
If you read my reviews you know that I like history. And I especially enjoy historical novels that center around World War II, something about the era I suspect. Michele Phoenix has weaved together a story that takes place in 1943 and in 2001. Each chapter alternates between then and now as Marshal Becker goes to France to renovate the exact castle that is the focus in 1943. “Tangled Ashes” is a thriller with all kinds of excitement and danger. This is a book about secrets and how the secrets made in 1943 affect the generations now. Also Becker has secrets and they are causing him a great deal of problems. Ms. Phoenix shows us cleverly how God has to expose those secrets to bring about a healing process. Becker is an architect and not only are we rebuilding a decayed castle we are rebuilding lives. Michele Phoenix knows how to weave a captivating story with wonderful characters that breathe. I enjoyed reading this book and recommend it highly.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Handlebar. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
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Review 6 for Tangled Ashes
A few twists that had me reeling!
Date:October 11, 2012
Mudpies and Tiaras
I LOVE reading and love getting new books. I strive to read only Christian fiction or other things like parenting books etc. But I won’t lie. Sometimes finding good Christian fiction can be a real challenge. I was therefore thrilled with Tangled Ashes. It is Christian fiction at its finest, or close to it. While it was a superbly clean book it did not really have much about God or the Bible, but what it did have was action, mystery, romance, drama and a few twists that had my reeling trying to catch up.
First off, I want to say, I rated "Meets Expecations" as average because I didn't know what to expect when I read this book. I'd never heard of Michele Phoenix before so I wasn't sure how the book would be. Honestly, it was better than I expected!
I love WWII history and I love castles. I also love mystery books. And this book has it all! It jumps back and forth from history to present but it's well-done so you don't get confused. It's also written in such a way that you just can't stop reading because you want to know what happens.
Quick summary: French castle during WWII. Daring escape with precious cargo. Do they make it? Present day, architect doing restoration on the castle. Strange noises at night. Weird squatter living in the gatehouse. Present and history combine for a full picture.
Disclaimer: I received this book from Handlebar Marketing in exchange for an honest review.