Tangled Ashes by Michele Phoenix

A Castle and WWII

The castle is the Meunier Manor during the Nazi occupation of France. Hitler turns the manor into his maternity ward to breed. Introduced are two teenage girls who work there and these characters enlighten readers to the daily events happening in the manor.

Fifty years later – the castle becomes a Renaissance castle, to be renovated in the city of Lamorlaye, France.

Michele Phoenix writes her historical novel with first-hand knowledge as she is from France. Her attention to details is much appreciated when reading a work of historical fiction.

Marshall Becker, from America, is the architect hired to renovate the castle. He arrives with expertise, but carries a bus load of ‘baggage’. Throughout the story, his character flaws are painfully visible, but we don’t get to fully understand him.

Becker’s relationships with his partner in America, the owner of the castle, the nanny who takes care of the owner’s twins, an old man who lives in the carriage house, and the interior designer, are how we acquire our knowledge of the characters in Tangled Ashes.

Each character is interesting, in their own way. The nanny, Jade, tries to understand Becker, and it is their developing relationship that makes me think Michele Phoenix has a sequel in mind. I say this mainly because of the ending, but I’ll let you decide.

I enjoyed the format of Tangled Ashes, reading dialogue from WWII, followed by the current time – during the renovation fifty years later. My concern with the story is plot related. There were a lot of things going on with Becker and all of his strained relationships, but there was no conclusion to the conflicts involved with them. I would have preferred the ending of Tangled Ashes to be as fascinating as the beginning.

There is a thread of Christianity sprinkled throughout the story, and it is nicely done, not obnoxious.

I recommend Tangled Ashes by Michele Phoenix for readers who enjoy learning history by reading a book, in this case, WWII history.

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