Well Written Historical Fiction
By Amanda Wynant
The Answer Staff Writer
Book: Tangled Ashes
By: Michele Phoenix
Lamorlaye, France - 1940: Meunier Manor, an elegant castle, is taken over by Nazi officials as they occupy the city. The Nazis make the castle their headquarters and the place where they'll institute their Labensborn program - a project Heinrich Himmler set up to promote the growth of the Aryan race by encouraging Nordic women and German Soldiers to conceive a child dedicated to Hitler and the Third Reich.
French teenage girls, Marie and Elise are forced into work for the Nazis at the castle, to help supplement their families' income. The girls have no knowledge of the Labensborn program at first, but soon discover the horrible plans of the Nazis as they turn the winsome castle into a maternity home. The young Frenchwomen must make brave decisions of loyalty and courage as they try to do what's right.
Fast forward 70 years. The Meunier castle is still standing, but in need of drastic renovations to restore it to it's original beauty. The castle is purchased by a wealthy businessman who has hopes of making it a fine hotel. Marshall Becker, an expert in historical renovations, flies from his home in the U.S. to Lamorlaye to begin the intricate and specialized task of rebuilding the castle and transforming it into what his client has requested.
He opts to stay on the property while he renovates. During his time at the manor, Becker finds that many of the people associated with the grand building are hiding dark secrets of their own. Strange things happen in the midnight hours to lead Becker into further search for the mysteries of Meunier Manor - and attempt to face the demons in his own life.
Michele Phoenix is an amazing writer. She has a fantastic ability to take a story from the 1940's and one from today and seamlessly marry them into a narrative that's both extremely engaging and quite easy to read. Her storytelling is stellar and the reader is captivated by the end of the book's first paragraph.
With 384 pages, Tangled Ashes is a work of historical fiction that weaves the love of Christ into the story, without an overt, preachy tone. Phoenix writes in an educated and easily understood way that's sure to peak the interest of any mystery loving reader. Once the book is opened, it's hard to put down.
Tangled Ashes is recommended for any adult reader looking for a novel this fall. The characters are lovely - easy to relate with and well created. The story itself is part historical record (Meunier Manor actually exists in Lamorlaye, France), and part fiction. Pick up a copy at your local bookstore or through www.amazon.com.