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 château’s inhabitants seems to have something to hide and something to survive—but none more so than Becker himself.
I'm not really sure what I was expecting from Tangled Ashes when I asked to review it. I guess I thought I could learn something of history since my high school education was lacking.... and I did learn something!
I enjoyed this book, not in a pleasant, funny, lovely kind of way, but in a sad, heart-breaking, life-affecting kind of way. There are some books written that I call "eye-candy"... they are easy to read, feel good, don't make you think too much kind of books. I LOVE that type of book, because they are enjoyable and relaxing. If you are looking for that, then don't pick up this book!! If you are looking for a book that will make you examine yourself a little closer, a book that explores some history along with fiction and a book that is wonderfully written, albeit gut-wrenching -- this is your book! (Okay, so I don't want ever book I read to end in happily ever after-- life isn't that way, why should fiction be?)
Ms. Phoenix jumps back and forth from chapter to chapter between modern day (2001) and France, 1943-1944. I found that a little frustrating to keep up with... especially in the beginning when you really don't know the connection between the two stories/time periods. Other than that, I was thoroughly taken in with the story of Becker, Jade, Therese, Elise and Maria. What a beautifully tragic story is woven together through time and the manor. Each of the main characters is waging an internal war... something that has changed who they are and how they live their lives. Tangled Ashes gets untangled in the last chapter or so, when things become clear and you find the puzzle pieces that makes the story click.