"There were seconds, when I woke, when the world felt unshrouded. Then memory returned."
When Jessica regains consciousness in a French hospital on the day after the Paris attacks, all she can think of is fleeing the site of the horror she survived. But Patrick, the steadfast friend who hasn’t left her side, urges her to reconsider her decision. Worn down by his insistence, she reluctantly agrees to follow through with the trip they’d planned before the tragedy.
“The pages found you,” Patrick whispered.
“Now you need to figure out what they’re trying to say.”
During a stop at a country flea market, Jessica finds a faded document concealed in an antique. As new friends help her to translate the archaic French, they uncover the story of Adeline Baillard, a young woman who lived centuries before—her faith condemned, her life endangered, her community decimated by the Huguenot persecution.
“I write for our descendants, for those who will not understand the cost of our survival.”
Determined to learn the Baillard family’s fate, Jessica retraces their flight from France to England, spurred on by a need she doesn’t understand.
Could this stranger who lived three hundred years before hold the key to Jessica’s survival?
|Publisher:||Nelson, Thomas, Inc.|
|Product dimensions:||5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.00(d)|
About the Author
Born in France to a Canadian father and an American mother, Michèle Phoenix is a consultant, writer and speaker with a heart for Third Culture Kids. She taught for 20 years at Black Forest Academy (Germany) before launching her own advocacy venture under Global Outreach Mission. Michèle travels globally to consult and teach on topics related to this unique people group. She loves good conversations, mischievous students, Marvel movies and paths to healing. Learn more at michelephoenix.com Twitter: @frenchphoenix
Read an Excerpt
THE ALARM WENT OFF AT EIGHT ON THE DAY MY LIFE imploded.
The springs in Patrick's couch clanged as I reached for my cell phone to turn it off. Vonda stretched and groaned on her thin mattress on the floor, then lifted the edge of her sleep mask to squint at me.
"Too early." Her voice was morning rough.
"Come on — get up. It's our last day here, and we're not sleeping it away."
I slipped off the couch and went to the windows, opening them wide to fold back their wooden shutters.
"Tell me it's sunny," Vonda mumbled from under her pillow.
"Are you lying?"
"It's Paris in November, Vonda."
She groaned again and forced herself to sit up, patting down the hair she'd dyed jet-black before our trip to Europe. "Those sirens are weird," she said as a police car navigated the narrow street two stories down. But it wasn't just French sirens she considered "weird." The traffic, the stares from strangers, the potency of the coffee, and the overcrowded Métro cars — all weird to the girl from Santa Barbara whose most exotic world exposure had, until this trip, extended only as far as LA's Chinatown.
Back home in Denver, the three of us shared a townhouse — or we had until Patrick had headed to Europe for a semester of art classes at The American University of Paris. It came as no surprise to those who knew him that he'd decided to further his education at an age when most men were focusing on their children's academic ambitions. But we all knew that his studies, though earnest, were merely a pretext for living in a place where treasures hid in plain sight in attics, dumps, and flea markets.
Patrick's passion for picking was a galvanizing thing. It had led him to open Trésor three years ago, his eclectic store of vintage old world objects tucked away in a gentrifying neighborhood of Denver. The discovery of three rare, Napoleon-era coins in the lining of a corset he'd acquired from an online auction had financed the fulfillment of his lifelong dream to study abroad.
They called picking chiner in France. Patrick called it treasure hunting. And somehow — between his classes and homework — he'd found the time to travel the French countryside in his thirty-year-old Citroën 2CV, which the French lovingly called a deudeuche. The common knickknacks he'd bought for a song in roadside shops and village fairs would be worth many times more back in his Denver store.
"Grab a shovel and believe in gold!" he always declared as he entered promising places. Given the impressive number of antiques he'd collected since his arrival in France, I could only conclude that his imaginary shovel had served him well.
Patrick and I had been a bit surprised by Vonda's decision to come along on our French adventure. She was nearly ten years younger than we were, and her interests diverged from ours in almost every way, particularly when it came to "digging for gold." But as opinionated, outspoken, and utterly without caution as she was, a quirky sort of friendship had evolved in the ten months we'd lived in the same home.
So she'd cashed in her vacation days to fly with me to the City of Lights. And since I'd left one job and had a few weeks to spare before starting another, I'd emptied the "Paris or bust" savings account I'd started on impulse seven years before, never really believing such a trip would actually happen.
But it had. Every morning for nearly a week, with Patrick wrapping up classes at the university and Vonda sleeping in, I'd strolled to my favorite café in Montmartre and sipped an espresso while watching the panache of city life pass by. The Seine and its quais were no longer foreign to me. I knew the churn of its bâteaux mouches and the hum of traffic on the clogged streets above its shores. There was a spot on the tip of the Île de la Cité that I particularly loved, and though the temperatures were in keeping with France's winter season, I'd bundled up on one occasion to sit there with a book and feel utterly, as Patrick put it, "Ooh-là-là chérie" — whatever that meant.
I felt drawn to France in a powerful way. Its vibrancy and history livened my senses and captured my imagination. I sensed the vastness and depth of its survival — the brutality of its mutinies and the surety of its rightful place as one of the world's most hard-won democracies. There was a homeness to Paris that felt both stimulating and soothing, unique and universal.
Patrick was in his element here, an art aficionado and self-proclaimed "clipster" who brought his own brand of class to the hipster movement. His confident exuberance was a natural fit in the fast-paced, artistically inclined city. I was a bit envious of the easy rapport he'd established with neighbors and commerçants during his four months in Paris. His interactions were effortless and genuine. They greeted him like a friend as he engaged with them in French. The pace and drama of his speech sounded fluent to my ears, though he assured me he still had a long way to go. Perfecting a language he loved had been just one of his motivations for moving to the City of Lights.
Patrick and I had met only four years ago, when I rang the doorbell of his Denver townhouse in answer to the "roommate wanted" ad I'd found on an online bulletin board. I was convinced that securing stable lodging would allow me to relocate to the city more permanently from the small town of Lamar, where my dad owned a body shop, my mom managed a grocery store, and everybody knew both who and whose I was. I'd moved in and out of their home so many times in the twelve years since college that I hoped a more distant location would prevent yet another embarrassing return.
It had taken me a few false starts to find the kind of employment that would finance such autonomy. After earning a pre-dental degree from a low-cost community college, I'd decided that cleaning teeth wasn't really my thing. I worked as a receptionist for a medical office for a while. Then I tried my hand at being a barista, followed by stints as a teacher's aide and finally an insurance agent. The job wasn't inspiring, but it felt stable and grown-up enough for me to move to Denver.
I was nervous but determined the day I answered Patrick's ad. "I'm here about the room for rent," I said when he opened the door, bow-tied and smiling. "I called you earlier ...?"
He gave me a once-over, and his blue-green eyes seemed to linger on my scuffed, utilitarian shoes a bit longer than warranted. He cocked his head when he looked up. "No drugs, no drunken orgies, and no messes in the common areas. You cool with that?" The words were blunt, but his expression was friendly.
"Uh ... sure."
"I'll need one month's deposit, and payments are due on the first. We split utilities three ways, and each person has a shelf in the fridge. If that works for you, it works for me."
"I ... Don't you want to interview me or ... ask me questions or something?"
"I have radar for good people."
He raised an eyebrow and crossed his arms. "So — you want the room or not?"
I looked into his direct and honest gaze and couldn't think of a reason to hesitate. "Sure," I said.
He extended a hand. "Welcome home."
And here I was in France, just over four years later, embarking on yet another adventure with a man whose kindness and impulsivity had drawn me into a friendship as solid as it was unpredictable. There was a nobility to his eccentricity, a keen curiosity, and a humane generosity.
Patrick and I were polar opposites in many ways. I proceeded with caution where he leapt with abandon. I chose the outskirts of crowds while he shone in their center. I was happy with plain while he thrived on fancy. In our grooming alone, the differences were evident: my shoulder-length brown hair in need of a trim and the impeccable blond pompadour he retouched twice a day.
Patrick burst through the door of his Parisian studio holding a paper bag aloft. "I've got croissants!" he declared, his voice more conquering hero than early-morning shopper. By the looks of the butter stains seeping through the bag, I could tell he'd gone the extra mile and picked them up at Chez Paul, the bakery we'd elected Best in Paris within hours of our arrival.
Nothing motivated Vonda like the promise of decadent carbs. She was pulling a jar of Nutella from the kitchen cupboard before Patrick got there with his loot. "Kitchen" was a bit of an overstatement. There was a microwave, an electric burner, and practically no storage. The studio was small — too small for one person to inhabit comfortably, let alone three. And with Vonda's mattress bridging the space between Patrick's twin bed and my couch, the floor was all but invisible.
"Eat up," Patrick said after I'd pulled a plaid button-down on over my nightshirt and joined him.
"Way ahead of you," Vonda mumbled around the croissant already in her mouth.
I grabbed my own and reached for the Nutella jar while Patrick unloaded the plastic bags of groceries he'd carried up two flights of stairs. Sandwich fixings, fruit, pasta, canned goods. "You realize we're leaving tomorrow, right?" I asked.
"And all of this," he said, waving at the food like a game show hostess, "is going with us. The beauty of an Airbnb is that we can cook for ourselves."
Vonda rolled her eyes and gave me a long-suffering look. Then she turned back to Patrick. "But before we go off on your Dumpster-diving adventure," she said, a bit of derision in her voice, "you've promised me a day of touristy sightseeing. Right?"
"If we must," Patrick said. "But we're not climbing the Eiffel Tower, and we're certainly not posing for tacky charcoal portraits on the Place du Tertre."
Vonda smiled. "Got one yesterday."
"So what's on the tour?" I asked.
"We can hit the Musée d'Orsay this morning, then the Latin Quarter for lunch. And ..." He brightened a bit and made a production of pulling three tickets out of his breast pocket. "The opening of an art exhibit in the 14th arrondissement this evening!
"I'm not spending my last night in Paris at a stuffy art exhibit," Vonda said.
"Come on," Patrick reasoned. "What better way to finish our time in 'Paree' than standing around with a bunch of rich people, commenting on obscure art and drinking free champagne? It doesn't get much more ooh-là-là chérie than that."
"It doesn't get much more yawn than that," Vonda corrected him.
"My prof gave me his passes."
"So you're not wasting any money by doing something else."
"Patrick's let us crowd his space for a week," I said to Vonda, fearing the skirmish might escalate into a debate. "Maybe going to this exhibit can be our way of saying thanks?"
Vonda looked at Patrick. "She's in crisis-prevention mode again."
"And we haven't even started cussing at each other," he said, grinning.
"We'll go to the art show," I told him.
But I hadn't taken into account Vonda's inability to abide by an established plan.
"They're great — they're fun," she said later that afternoon, extolling the greatness of the "new friends" she'd made in a grunge-inspired clothing store while Patrick and I sat in Le Centre du Monde finishing up an order of crème brûlée. She looked from me to Patrick with expectation. "How often do you get offered free tickets to a concert?"
"A death metal concert, Vonda. Do I look like the type of person who'd enjoy that kind of thing?"
"All the more reason to try it," she insisted. "Come on — be daring! It's free. It's Paris! Ditch your paintings and live a little!"
Patrick gave her a look through the steam of his espresso. With a fancy art exhibit as an alternate option, his refusal was immediate and firm.
"Listen," she said, hands on hips and brown eyes firing. "I've let you drag me to every artsy-fartsy store and dusty flea market in Paris for days. I'm going to this concert, whether you two come with me or not."
"Vonda," I tried, "you've only known these people — what — ten minutes?"
She straightened to the full stature of her five feet eight inches, and I could tell by the way she tossed her hair over her shoulder and jutted out her chin that the outcome of the debate was a foregone conclusion.
So Patrick had gone off to his art gallery without us, and I'd reluctantly agreed to tag along with Vonda. Attending a concert populated by head-banging youth and jaded metalheads held absolutely no appeal to me, but her insistence that this would be "a side of Paris no one else sees" and a reticence to let my foolhardy friend venture out with virtual strangers had eroded my resistance.
Tomorrow we'd begin a road trip to Southern France in Patrick's dilapidated Citroën. We'd stop at every brocante we found along the way. We'd explore bustling cities and crisscross peaceful countrysides.
That's what I expected as we said good-bye to Patrick and made our way by Métro to the Bataclan concert hall on that mild November evening in the City of Lights. None of us could have imagined how the rest of the night would dismantle our lives.
IMAGES FLASHED ACROSS MY MEMORY LIKE A GRUESOME montage, slamming me with the horror again and again. The gunfire following me to the bloody exit door. The bodies I jumped over as I fled into the alley. The woman screaming, hanging by her fingertips from a second-floor window ledge. Cell phones shining through closed windows, capturing my flight.
I remembered being dragged into an alcove. There were voices — urgent, whispering voices — but my mind lacked the focus to translate what they said. Someone putting pressure on the left side of my waist. Pain screaming through my synapses. Then the welcome darkness of unconsciousness.
Later I heard more voices, their sureness and calm somehow hopeful to my ears. Hands lifted me and laid me on a stretcher. Flashing lights. Sirens. A rough, swerving drive. Nausea. Pain.
Hallway lights flashed by. Words I couldn't fully understand. Medical words. The sound of curtains being pulled. Hurried activity swirling around me. Scissors tearing at my sweater. A woman's gentle voice. A hand on my arm. Kindness. It made the horror I'd survived that much more terrorizing.
I remembered asking for Vonda — begging for someone to find and tell Patrick. And my parents. I needed them to know I was all right — but I wasn't sure I'd actually spoken the thoughts.
There was the dim pain of IVs being placed — one in each arm. Beeping instruments. A raised voice barking orders.
Then I remembered a groggy swim toward consciousness. The shivering. The reassuring pats and whispered conversations just out of reach. The slow ebb of anesthesia. Auditory chaos that separated into recognizable sounds. A beeping monitor. A gurney rolling by. A male voice. "Jessica. Jessica." I recognized his accent. France. I was in France. I was at the concert when ...
As memories assaulted me, I willed my mind to sink back into insentience, to reverse its slow rise out of darkness. There was nothing in the brutal light of reality that wouldn't reverberate with the sound of gunfire bursts. Nothing that would shield me from a full remembering. From a full resuffering.
The world around me continued to come into focus, insisting on my consciousness. I commanded myself to resist, a plight as futile as fighting against gravity.
"Jessica, vous m'entendez?" The same male voice. My mind flashed to a sneering, menacing face, and my body convulsed — trying to escape. Trying to ...
The pain was brutal. It seared its way across my abdomen and down my spine. "Non. Non, non, non." His voice was gentle but urgent, his accent thick and comforting. "Don't move, okay? Don't move, Jessica. It will open your incision."
Incision. My eyelids felt leaden. I struggled against their weight. My mind was still locked on the massacre. Snapshots of the terror assailed me with every breath — with every heartbeat. I needed to open my eyes. I needed to ...
A face swam into focus. That accented voice again. "Hello, Jessica." I squinted to see more clearly. A middle-aged black man in scrubs smiled down on me. His wasn't one of the faces imprinted on my mind.
"My parents," I tried to say. What came out was more croak than whisper. I cleared my throat. "Has someone called my parents?"
He leaned close. "Please repeat." His concern seemed genuine.
I took a deeper breath and tried again. "Do my parents know I'm here?"
Excerpted from "The Space Between Words"
Copyright © 2017 Michèle Phoenix.
Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
"Paris in November," should have been a season in which there is a glimmer of hope, new discoveries, and some days to travel. For Jessica, those days would be a painful path of recovery. With her friends, Patrick and Vonda, Denver would be a past life and France would not be the adventure she had envisioned. Patrick has a passion for life, for "picking," and for traveling the French countryside. His "Grab a shovel and believe in gold," proved to be always infectious causing Jessica to swap out her plans and embark on quests in promising places. Vonda may be younger, bolder, and unbridled in her determination to live life to the fullest. The trip to France meant freedom to grab all of the opportunities that any young heart could desire. Her request to change their evening plans and "live a little," would bring about a change that wasn't on their itinerary. Once Jessica realizes that the horror of the shooting was real, instead of returning home to Denver, she follows Patrick's lead into the countryside as a "healing" pathway. Vonda returns home and Jessica relinquishes her desire to flee France. With Patrick's insistence, Jessica follows her instincts to continue their treasure hunting plans. In a beautiful village in southern France, Jessica becomes charmed by the owners of the cottage in which Patrick had their B&B reservation. Grant, Mona, and Connor become the balm for the healing that Jessica will require. Days after the shooting, on a treasure hunt in a "ramshackle" barn. Patrick leads Jessica to the discovery of an old map, a bible, and a dark walnut sewing box. Hidden within the box is a small notebook. It will be this discovery that creates a distraction from the pain of the shooting. Given a new quest, coupled with the support from Grant and Mona, as well as the truth of Connor's observation, Adeline's story will finally be revealed. What began as an endearing friendship and love story, erupts in a mysterious quest to help Adeline's story to reach her descendants. Life can take many twists and turns. What becomes an opportunity to bring closure to someone else will have a mutual blessing of healing for those willing to move beyond tragedy. Engagement in the life of these characters doesn't seem adequate in expressing the profound crafting of this story. Enmeshment is not an eloquent "enough" term for the depth in which you will experience Jessica's healing. What could be discovered is a story entrusted for your sharing! Hope grows and healing begins once you open the covers of this story, MrsK
I'll just get this upfront right now -- this will likely be a tough read for PTSD sufferers. Chapter 17 is especially intense. Being a sufferer myself, I can tell you a number of passages in this book had my nerves on edge or me suddenly in a puddle of tears reading of Jessica's (fictional) account of the attacks. Also, imagining the fear someone in Adeline's position had to live with on a daily basis... this novel was one whopping emotional drain! But in a good way! Note for sensitive readers: Within the excerpts of Adeline's journal, there are some brief scenes of brutality depicted, as Adeline writes of the torture endured by those who refused to convert to Catholicism. There are also some gruesome scenes illustrated during Jessica's descriptions of the shootings that occurred at the concert venue. Some of my favorite bits: 1) OMG, I ADORED Nelly, the tour guide at Canterbury Cathedral! Her wit and grandmotherly sweetness! Also neat that in her author notes at the end, Michelle Phoenix reveals that the details of the adventure to the church that Jessica and Grant go on is based on a trip Phoenix herself took to the same church. 2) I found myself moved by little Connor and his visions of "shiny ninjas" (you'll understand this once you read the book). The one knock I would give this story is the "common misconception" conversation about Grant and Mona. Just found it annoying that all these little things going on between them gave the impression that they were a couple and then they casually explain they're brother and sister, but people often get it confused. Well, dang. Introduce yourself as siblings at the start and we won't have a bunch of confused readers later! But Iater on I kinda saw why Phoenix might have written it this way... we need the brother available for confused feelings / possible romantic tension between him and Jessica! But still, annoying. I'd definitely recommend this one over Phoenix's Of Stillness And Storm. I found the plot here much more complex, entertaining and emotionally moving. I'm strongly anticipating her future works! FTC Disclaimer: TNZ Fiction Guild kindly provided me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. The opinions above are entirely my own.
The Space Between Words was a very different book - not easy to classify as simply contemporary or suspense or romance. It’s much more than that - with a setting ripped from the latest world headlines and a main character as flawed and believable as you could want. Jessica is caught up in a Paris terrorist attach on a night club and although badly wounded she survives. Initially determined to return to her home and loved ones in the States - she is persuaded to remain in France and continue the road trip she and her best friend and room mate Patrick had planned. Travelling into the rural back blocks of France - she meets a couple who provide not only accomodation but also the emotional support she desperately needs. While there she also discovers a antique sewing box which contains pages from a diary of a young woman who lived trough religious persecution centuries before her. The two stories weave together to bring both healing and closure to Jessica as she grapples with her own struggles and survivors guilt. Space Between Words is a book that once it has you - won’t easily let you go. With many misdirects and unexpected plot twists, I was both moved and educated on the comparison of the modern face of terrorism and past persecution’s which were just as terrorising. I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher as part of the Thomas Nelson/ Zondervan Fiction Guild. I was not required to post a positive review and the views and opinions expressed are my own.
The story opens in France, as three friends have begun to to embark on a journey together to visit the countryside and find treasures for Patrick’s business. The girls, Vonda and Jessica, decide to take an evening out and attend a concert, a decision which proves to be disastrous as terrorists choose that venue to get their message of hatred out by slaughtering as many as they can. What follows is the story of Jessica and how she dealt with trying to recover from the shooting and how she finds healing in the strangest of ways. The story was relevant to the times we’re in and I felt drawn in by the intense terror that Jessica must have felt , along with a grieving for the loss of innocence that we all are facing as our freedom is being challenged by those who would seek to control us. I give this story a 5 out of 5 and would gladly read any of the author’s subsequent books.
I wasn’t sure what to expect when I started reading this but was soon caught up in a beautifully written story that can be hard to digest at points. I was intrigued by the history of the Huguenots and hung on every word that told Adeline’s story. I’m almost at a loss for words in describing this novel, as it has such depth and layers, like peeling the layers of an onion. I love the phrase, the layering of light over darkness. This is a book you don’t want to pass up and will not want to put down. I received a complimentary copy from Thomas Nelson & Zondervan Fiction Guild. The honest review and opinions are my own and were not required.
This book takes on the seemingly impossible feat of having faith in a time of terror. The book begins with Jessica, an American girl trying to find her own way in life, regaining consciousness in a French hospital after the Paris terrorist attack at the Bataclan. She survived, and wants to run away from Paris, France and all of Europe as fast as she can, but her "platonically made for each other" best friend, Patrick, urges her not to leave and to follow-through with the treasure hunting trip they planned through southern France before heading back home to Denver. The author, Michèle Phoenix, takes on the heaviness of the terror by stringing together words, each syllable a blow to the gut and the punctuation at the end of the sentence leaving your breathless. She flawlessly touches on all the facets of terror from the intentions of terror, to the sight of terror and the guilt of survival. With regards to the intentions of terror Phoenix has Patrick tell Jessica that: "The wanted you to feel so scared you'd never step foot outside again without looking over your shoulder and expecting more of the awful you've already been through." Jessica articulates the horrific sights and feelings of terror: "Death had burned its savagery into the fabric of my consciousness. I felt stained. Branded." Phoenix also has Jessica highlight the guilt of survival: "Little was said, but everything was spoken as the injustice and bliss of survival washed over me in jagged ways." However, this story isn't a gruesome recounting of the events of the terror attack. This story is a relatively light, and entertaining read about discovering the history behind the faded documents Jessica found concealed in an antique sewing box. Through the treasure-hunt plot, the book tackles healing and how "...it's too easy to blame God for the stupidity of humans." In the end, it leaves the reader believing too that, as Grant said, "But if there is a God-the kind that weeps when the weak and powerless get hurt...that there's a force for good in this world....I want to believe that there's a force for good in this world and that that force won't let the bad have the final word. It doesn't explain or undo the darkness, but...I think somehow it covers it with light."
I liked it! It has at least one sort of shocking moment, lots of history (mainly of the Hugenots, which I find interesting), great characters, a little romance, and hope (and who wants to read a hopeless book, right?). I enjoyed this book. Thanks Michèle. I received this book from the Fiction Guild exchange for an honest review. I was in no way required to give a favorable review.
The Space Between Words By Michele Phoenix This book can be summed up in a single word ~ WOW. But a single word does not do this book justice. I've read Michele Phoenix's work in the past and, though it was well-written and the story good, it did not grab me the way this book did. This book, this story, is very moving. The Space Between Words is a convergence of two stories, of two times, of two women, caught up in pain of hate and loss. Adeline Baillard is living for her faith though it came at great cost ~ as a Huguenot Adeline is living a life persecuted by the French government. But her faith is the backbone of her life and for this she is willing to give her life. Jessica is living in the present day, visiting France with her friends Patrick and Vonda. But when an attack occurs shattering Jessica's world and her sense of safety with it. Pushed to continue the trip that had been planned before the attack Jess finds an antique sewing box that holds a long-hidden secret that reveals part of Adeline's story. Connecting to this young woman of conviction sets Jess on a journey to discover the fate of the Baillard family. But this journey may be just what Jess needs as she searches for the truth of the past and confronts the recent pain of her present. This is a story not to be missed - just be sure to have a box of tissues nearby there are some especially moving scenes. (Yes, I admit it a couple of times I was moved to tears which does not happen often). I really liked the way the stories were told together. They were woven in such a way that it didn't feel forced. If you are looking for something different to read or are just a fan of fiction give The Space Between Words a try. It has a freshness to it that is interesting to explore and it doesn't shy away from the topics it is exploring. This would be an excellent book club selection if you are looking for a suggestion. I was provided a complimentary review copy of this book by the Fiction Guild, a positive review was not expected, all opinions expressed are my own.
On Nov. 13, 2015, several terrorists stormed a concert at the Bataclan club in Paris, killing 90 people and injuring hundreds, on a night of numerous organized terrorist attacks within the city. Michele Phoenix’s “The Space Between Words” is a fictional telling of an American woman, Jessica, in the city visiting her friend and roommate, Patrick, who is in Paris to study art and antiques. Toward the end of the Paris visit, her other friend Vonda convinces Jessica to attend a concert at the Bataclan while Patrick attends an art event — a decision that will forever change Jessica’s life. After surviving the horrific event, Patrick convinces Jessica to travel to southern France in search of treasures — and a little healing of the soul. When Jessica stumbles across an antique sewing box containing hidden journal pages, she is quickly dragged into a mystery from 1695 — the story of a young Huguenot named Adeline Baillard, and the persecution she and her family suffer for being Protestant. Along her journey, Jessica meets siblings Mona and Grant, and Mona’s adorable son Connor. Grant also quickly grows interested in the mystery of Adeline — did she survive, did her family survive, and if so, what happened to them? The newly acquainted party soon dig into the history of the Huguenots and their journey to safety and freedom in England. “The Space Between Words” is a brilliant story that spans time, joining together the lives of two women searching for truth and freedom. Phoenix also sprinkles in some shocking plot twists that you will never see coming. You will fall in love with her very real, yet very flawed characters, and little Connor will leave you chuckling at every turn. Filled with history, current events, romance and suspense, “The Space Between Words” is a brilliant novel filled with so many goodies and life lessons. As did Adeline’s family, it encourages us to live by the principle of “endure with courage, resist with wisdom, and persist in faith.” It reminds us that God endures and that He is our refuge and is always with us, although troubles may still come; as long as we are able to read and convey God’s Word, our faith is never extinguished; we must choose life in spite of fear and loss; and God most definitely cares when the helpless get hurt. As Adeline writes: “Our faith breathes on in the bravery of belief and in the insurgency of prayer. Sobered by the danger threatening our future, trusting in the sureness of God’s unfailing promises, we will live out the vows embodied by my father: enduring with courage, resisting with wisdom, persisting in faith.” It also repeatedly deals with the theme of why God allows bad to happen and that “God layers good over the bad.” We are reminded through Jessica’s and Adeline’s stories to always find the good in a situation — no matter how long it takes to find that good. And so “The Space Between Words” is a story of searching — searching, quite literally, for people; searching for answers; searching for hope; searching for the good; and ultimately searching for God. Readers who enjoy stories that span time and connect characters from different eras (fans of Kate Morton, for example) will love this book, as will fans of stories dealing with religious history. Five stars out of five. Thomas Nelson provided this complimentary copy for my honest, unbiased review.
I was very excited to read this! I love how they blended real life events from now and the past. I feel like some of the relationships could have been deeper but otherwise, it was a very good read about learning to trust, love and have faith again. It does involve religious persecution, but I don't really feel like it was too overwhelming if you aren't into religious books. I think it's worth the read if you enjoy historical fiction. It's part ghost story, part wild goose chase but very endearing. I received a copy of this book for free. I was not required to post a positive review and the views and opinions expressed are my own.
Tearful I received a copy of this book from The Fiction Guild. I was not required to give a favorable review. This was a beautiful story. It tells a story about a horrific shooting in Paris and the lives of people who survived and died. But it is also a history lesson on the Huguenot persecution in France in the 1600's. Jessica is visiting with her friend Vonda her friend Patrick who is also their roommate back in Denver. He has been studying artwork. He owns a shop in Denver that sells antiques. When the opportunity to go to a concert the girls go instead of the art show with Patrick. But then the attack happens, Jessica is shot, Vonda is safe, but the loss of Patrick does something to Jessica that she can't except he is gone until she arrives in France at a B&B run by an American family. She finds a sewing box that belongs to someone who died and goes on a search for the story behind the rest of the family and it brings her closure on the loss of her friend, the beginning of new beginnings of her and Grant, and the wonderful story of overcoming bad things in your life with God's guidance.
Jessica and Vonda thought a trip to Paris to visit their best friend Patrick was a fantastic idea until . . . it wasn’t. I received this book from NetGalley several months ago and had just started to read it when the Las Vegas attack occurred. For that reason, and the inherently disturbing imagery (mostly from the place of my imagination and PTSD), I did not finish reading it, nor did I review it. However, early last week I received a paperback copy from The Fiction Guild. I decided to give it a second chance. I am at a loss to describe this book. The plot is primarily set overseas after the 2015 terrorist attack on the Bataclan concert hall in Paris, France, recounting the main character’s life in the aftermath of this horrific event. Another setting is also in France. However, it deals with the persecution of the Huguenots centuries ago. The plot strands run in a dual timeline, but the emphasis is on present times. Parts of The Space Between Words defy description, and some emotions can only be experienced through the gut-wrenching reading of the events. Other aspects of the book challenge description in the believability of the character’s story. I didn’t have a problem with one detail of Jessica’s dealing with Patrick and her PTSD, though I can see how many would (I don’t want to give any spoilers). I did have a hard time accepting the ease with which Mona, the innkeeper, welcomed Jessica. As a mother, I found it a little unlikely that another mother would not feel a threat to her child by someone in the throes of a mental and emotional breakdown. Nor do I believe that, as a business person, Mona would have let Jessica stay there for free for such a long time. Overall, the story is well written, the characters well developed and the narrative believable. I ran a gamut of emotions, from a heightened sense of fear to laughter and relief. Be prepared for a roller-coaster ride if you read it, as you learn more about Jessica and, also, the persecution of the Huguenots in the late 1600’s. I received this book from NetGalley and Fiction Guild. However, I was under no obligation to post a review.
The Space Between Words is an interesting story of trying to find the origins of a sewing box found in a junk store. Jessica is injured and her friend is killed when terrorists attack at concert she is attending in France. Jessica's mind refuses to accept her friend's death. After she finds information hidden in the sewing box, her healing process begins. The book includes part of the story of a Huguenot family and how they suffered. The Space Between Words is well-written. I enjoyed the book but would have rated it higher if it had not included people believing they saw a deceased person. I received this e-book through NetGalley.
I very much enjoyed this book. It was different - and had me hooked right from the beginning. I thought the fact that there was more than one story going on throughout the course of the book very interesting. It was wonderful how the new friendships Jessica is able to make gets her through such a troubling time in her life and help her survive mentally after surviving physically the traumatic event of a bombing. Very interesting!!!
Some books leave one speechless . . . this is such a story. Because there are spaces between words...maybe words are not necessary or we are to think, ponder, examine more closely the story that is presented. This story grabbed me and just wouldn't let go. It was like the unfolding of a slow but determined young plant that longs to grow. As it unfolds in the sunlight it pauses to take gulps of good clean air. Spaces! Jessica must find answers after the horrific Paris attack. All she longs for is home BUT Patrick, her close friend, encourages her to stay and live, to continue her journey. A lot of emotion in this read but, yet, the tender spaces of time are given to absorb all that one reads. The gripping story of Adeline Ballard that Jessica knows/feels is her answer. What a story! What an ending! *This book was provided for review by The Fiction Guild*
Read this enticing, eye-opening tale. Seriously. You won't regret it. It took awhile for me to process The Space Between Words. Even now I'm not sure I will be able to do this book, this review due justice. Bear with me, my friends. Jessica is a survivor of the Paris attacks. The author masterfully layers the character's remembrance of the attacks and the following trauma throughout the novel. And about a fourth of the way through the story there is a dramatic twist. A twist so dramatic that - to be honest - I'm not sure how I didn't spend the next week raging and mourning! The author pulled such an intense response out of me for these wounded, dear characters. Most of the story is told through Jessica's perspective. However, we get to read the journal entries of Adeline Baillard and follow the harrowing journey of her family's faith during the Huguenot persecution. What about romance, you say? Yes, there is a faint, slow burning romance, but it is not the focus of the novel. However, it was enough to please this romantic girl's heart! This is a tale of survival and healing after experiencing the worst in mankind, and we see the struggle - and reward - to walking in faith, persevering, and believing in God's goodness. Four Stars ~ This story is an intense kind of beautiful! The Space Between Words is a standalone novel. I think fans of Rachel Hauck's dual timeline stories, Katie Ganshert's Life After, Becky Wade's True to You, and Heidi Chiavaroli's Freedom's Ring will enjoy The Space Between Words. I received a copy of The Space Between Words by Michele Phoenix published by Thomas Nelson from BookLook Bloggers. All opinions expressed are my own.
How can one survive a life-changing event, a tragedy that could very easily destroy a person physically, emotionally and spiritually? One way is to reflect on another person’s journey and glean from their experience how to be victorious. Michele Phoenix does it again! Her beautifully written new novel is a delight to read as well as a heart-warming story of courage, survival, hope, healing and forgiveness! A must read for all who enjoy good literature!
You guys, these books this month are hitting me hard. The Space Between Words is a book that gets you in all the deep places. What a read from Michele Phoenix. There is so much depth and emotion to this book. Some surprises too. After the Paris attacks, Jessica deals with being a victim of the tragedy. Will she ever be able to face life with her once-bright outlook again? Taking the trip she planned with her friend, she stumbles across a sewing case and the hidden pages within. Those pages lead her on a journey of discovery—not only about the woman who wrote them during Frances persecution of the Huguenots but also of herself. When fear and PTSD strike, when her mind takes her back to the Bataclan where she hid from terrorists, when life becomes too overwhelming to face, Jessica’s friends surround her. Read this one with a tissue box near but don’t miss out on this beautiful story of hope and living life after evil tries to steal it away. Disclosure statement: I receive complimentary books for review from publishers, publicists, and/or authors, including NetGalley. I am not required to write positive reviews. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.
The Space Between Words is really the story of two women, Jessica and Adeline, and the tragedies they faced in their respective times. While both stories are interesting in their own right, I found the bouncing back and forth to be a bit distracting. Add Jessica's flashbacks of surviving the Paris attacks along with an almost separate story of her resistance to romantic relationships and the story becomes quite busy. The story has a good premise and the characters are very well developed, but with so much going on, I found it hard to stay focused. The author seems to be making a comparison between the Huguenot persecution and the Paris attacks, but I failed to see the connection, other than the fact that both women faced extreme circumstances. I actually laid this one aside several times and came back to it, determined to finish and see where Jessica's journey would lead and I suppose the book does have a fitting ending, but it felt like it took a meandering route to get there.