The storyline of “Tangled Ashes” vacillates between modern day Lamorlaye, France and it’s World War 2 history during the Nazi occupation of France. Each section is set primarily in the ancient castle of Lamorlaye with its modern tale focusing on the renovation of the castle and the historical narrative about the Nazi’s use of the castle as a maternity hospital for the women who were to bear the perfect children for Germany’s future. For most of the book, the only connection evident between the two eras was the common location but as the story neared the end the relationship became more clear.

The primary character, Marshall Becker was a most unpleasant fellow – angry, rude, an alcoholic, and thoroughly unlikeable. Although he improved somewhat by the end, I was never able to develop much sympathy for him and his problems. Jade may have been a more likeable person but I didn’t feel that I learned quite enough about her personal feelings to identify with her either. The history of the castle was interesting as far as it went but I would have liked that story to have been expanded a bit more. Overall the book had a lot going for it but I personally felt that it did not quite reach its full potential. I am certain that this is largely due to my own preferences and not any shortcomings of the author.

This book was provided for review by Handlebar Marketing.


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.


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 in Germany 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 for more information.