“Folksy charm, an undercurrent of menace, and an aura of hope permeate this ultimately inspirational tale.” — Booklist From award-winning author James Markert comes a Southern tale of fathers and sons, young romance, revenge and redemption, and the mystery of miracles. Now that Prohibition has ended, what the townspeople of Twisted Tree, Kentucky, need most is the revival of the Old Sam Bourbon distillery. But William McFee knows it’ll take a miracle to convince his father, Barley, to once more fill his family’s aging house with barrels full of bourbon. When a drifter recently buried near the distillery begins to draw crowds of pilgrims, the McFees are dubious. Yet miracles seem to come to those who once interacted with the deceased and to those now praying at his grave. As people descend on the town to visit the “Potter’s Field Christ,” William seeks to find the connection between the tragic death of his younger brother and the mysterious drifter. But as news spreads about the miracles at the potter’s field, the publicity threatens to bring the depth of Barley’s secret past to light and put the entire McFee family in jeopardy. “Distinguished by complex ideas and a foreboding tone, Markert’s ( A White Wind Blew ) enthralling novel captures a dark time and a people desperate for hope.” — Library Journal “Mysterious, gritty and a bit mystical, Markert’s entertaining new novel inspires the question of ‘What if?’ Many characters are nicely multilayered, providing a good balance of intrigue and realism. The fascinating glimpse into the process of distilling bourbon—and the effect of the Prohibition on Kentucky and its bourbon families—adds another layer to the story.” — RT Book Reviews
James Markert is a novelist, screenwriter, producer, and USPTA tennis pro from Louisville, Kentucky, where he lives with his wife and two children. He has a history degree from the University of Louisville. He won an IPPY Award for The Requiem Rose, which later became A White Wind Blew. His debut horror novel, The Nightmare Man, written under the pen name JH Markert, will be released in early 2023!
Early reviews for A White Wind Blew:
"Beauifully told...with a historian's eye for detail." -Robert Hicks, author of The Widow of the South and A Separate Country
"Compelling and thought-provoking." -John Burnham Schwartz, author of Reservation Road and Northwest Corner
I greatly enjoy when a novel educates and The Angels' Share delivered on that score. The education began with the title which references the evaporation that occurs with bourbon and is said to be given to angels for protection of the distillery. In the process of reading, I looked up around 7-8 words in the dictionary. Some examples are cooper (a person who makes casks or barrels), jake (o.k. or fine) and bindle (possessions of a hobo).
Another positive aspect of the novel is the setting. The story is set in 1934 Kentucky, during the Great Depression and just after Prohibition ended. The events that happened and the descriptions that were included brought the time to life.
The story line itself fell short for me and I was not invested in it. I did enjoy the character development of both Barley and Samantha. There were some sweet moments between the two of them.
As a word of caution some readers may be offended by the hint at premarital sex and/or the reference to drug use by one of the characters.
My gratitude to the publisher Thomas Nelson for a complimentary copy of the novel. It was a delight to try a new to me author. I was not required to post a review and the opinions expressed are my own.
Willie McFee grows up in Twisted Tree, Kentucky. His family is relatively well off, although the town is suffering the effects of having the bourbon distillery, owned by the McFee family, shut down by Prohibition.
Although Prohibition is over, Barley, Willie’s father shows no interest in reopening the distillery. Willie encourages him dreaming of becoming the distiller as his grandfather planned. Then a drifter comes to town. He dies and is buried in the Potter’s Field on the McFee property, but that’s not the end of the story.
Gossip circulates giving the man credit for performing miracles. Soon people arrive to pray at the site. Rumors that he is the Second Coming of Christ spread changing the town and the McFees.
This historical novel is true to the time presenting the problems and dislocation caused by Prohibition and the Depression. It’s also historically accurate that during the period itinerant preachers and drifters wandered from place to place giving voice to the word of God and sometimes miracles happened.
The characters in the book are well developed. Willie struggles with his ambition and his father’s retreat from the world. The townspeople are representative of people caught in a difficult situation they cannot control.
The story is full of twists. The several plots coming together from World War I and the Depression to the problems of Prohibition. If you enjoy a well written historical novel, you’ll enjoy this book.
I received this book from Harper Collins for this review.
Author James Markert's captivating novel, "Angels' Share," grabbed my attention in the bookstore first with it's appealing cover (I like a good looking book cover!). The description too was fascinating, and I'm so glad that I went ahead and picked it up to read.
This story, set just after Prohibition was lifted, pulls you into the lives of the McFee family of Twisted Tree, Kentucky, Once prominent maker of one of the best bourbons around, the family had fallen on hard times with the closure of the distillery and the tragic loss of their youngest son. So it is understandable that the strange occurences after the burial of a man who claimed to have special power related to Jesus himself would affect the McFee's all in different ways.
Head of the family, Barley McFee, is especially troubled and finds a renewal of faith and forgiveness as he and his son William seek to fnd the answers to the question on everyone's mind - was Asher Keating, the deceased homeless man, possibly the second coming of Jesus?
I really enjoyed this book. Markert does a fine job of describing both the post-Prohibition era as well as the absolute bare-bones production of whiskey. I also admired how Markert wove in a thread of faith that continued throughout the story. While not your typical faith-based novel, I found "Angels' Share" to be a hidden treasure of a novel. I can't wait to read more from this author very soon!
This is a very busy story. It surprised me as I thought it was a different story. This is more like a jigsaw puzzle. Once you start reading it is hard to stop. It starts with WW I. Then there was the big Depression and Prohibition. This is when it turns to be a very Graphic book. This was how it worked back then. Now we have the evangelists travelling to push their religion. This is a rough racist time and here comes the KKK. Barley has a distillery that is shut down. Asher shows up and seems to be able to fix people's problems. He has a following, dies and is buried in the Potter's Field near the distillery. The bad times come back again. There are so many twists and turns like Henry who dances and is 3. They use the Angel's Share, which is the aroma from used whiskey barrels. If you like hard times, murders, and making Bourbon Whiskey then this is the book for you. Give this story a chance. You may learn something. I did! I volunteered to read and review this book.
I can't in all good conscious give this read any more than one star. Despite the fact that James Markert seems talented in his writing skills. I found this book at Lifeway Christian Bookstore on the bargain isle and while I was hoping for something different I wasn't looking for something so utterly disturbing and unbiblical. I'm shocked it's being sold as Christian fiction. Where will the line be drawn?
I received a copy of this book in a giveaway on Goodreads, with the expectation of an honest review. It was a good historical fiction about a family in the 1930's, who owned a non-functioning distillery, who were also hiding their own secrets. The book started out catching my attention, and didn't let up. Many stories intertwined, but it didn't seem overdone. Nice writing, and now, I want to take a road trip and visit a bourbon distillery, and smell the angel's share for myself.
Some books grab you from the first page and never let go. Others take their time, gradually revealing themselves as the pages pass. Books in the first camp all too often flame out, while books in the second camp sometimes never seem to get anywhere.
"Angels' Share," the second novel by James Markert ("A White Wind Blew"), patiently takes its time, gradually assembling its pieces until they are ready to move. And the result is a bittersweet tale of family, secrets, loss and joy wrapped around the repeal of Prohibition in a distillery town.
That distillery town is the fictional Twisted Tree, Kentucky, which is a stand-in for any of scores of towns that had their lives torn asunder by Prohibition - as the government shut down the town's economic engine in the name of spiritual purity - and the Great Depression following hard on its heels. Prohibition has now ended but the Depression still lies heavy across the country. So why would the inscrutable Barley McFee, patriarch of the family that owns the distillery, refuse to re-open? Barley's son William, effectively the narrator of the story, is as puzzled (if not as angry) as everyone else in town.
William assumes Barley's refusal to reopen the distillery stems from some combination of horrors Barley experienced, possibly as a front-line soldier in World War I, or more likely the tragic and unexplained death of William's younger brother Henry. William's younger brother had been one of those kids everyone loved and a dancing prodigy to boot even as a little kid. So why had he been in the car with Barley late on the night of the accident?
So the McFees are a family in misery, Barley's as bad as anyone's. And you don't question misery.
But then something odd happens. A drifter is buried in the potter's field near the distillery. The drifter was no ordinary man. He had followers. Followers who believed in him. Followers who believed in him the way the Twelve Disciples believed in Jesus.
And then the miracles start.
What ensues is a surprising, occasionally shocking, and at times joyful tale of a family coming to terms with its secrets, its losses, and recovering its sense of self. While not every plot thread may be as successful as the others, the end of this tale is both realistically ambiguous and deeply satisfying.
Markert writes clearly and cleanly, and "Angels' Share" goes down as smooth as a glass of Old Sam. (The title comes from the bourbon that evaporates through the barrel staves during the aging process - just one of the little delightful details Markert weaves throughout the novel.) A novel that doesn't fit nicely or neatly into any genre that I'm aware of, "Angels' Share" is an original and compelling read - definitely recommended.
The Angels’ Share was both an interesting book and a challenge for me to read. Set during the end of prohibition - it is a time in American history I didn’t know very well. The small town of twisted tree sets the seen for a gritty and dark tale of clandestine distilleries and the making of bourbon.
When a passing drifter is buried in an aptly named ‘Potter’s Field’, crowds begin to flock determined to witness a miracle by praying at his grave. We see the story form William McFee’s eyes - as he and his family struggle to determine what is true and what is fantasy.
I found the setting and storyline compelling and was fascinated by the detail around the distillery and the title ‘Angels’ share’ from the evaporating process of ageing the bourbon. My only criticism is I found the characters hard to keep track of - particularly how they placed in the family - the mother and father character’s routinely referred to by their christian name along side the children - siblings for me made it hard to place the family dynamic but this is a small criticism. A little added concentration to each character should remedy this.
All in all a very different book which challenges any genre you might like to try and shoehorn it into. Many thanks to Harper Collins Fiction Guild for giving me the opportunity to experience it.
William McFee has yet to make anything of himself, though he works on becoming a reporter while secretly dreaming of re-opening the family distillery that used to be the lifeblood of the town of Twisted Tree, Kentucky.
The story takes us on a journey through a pivotal time in William's life, as his father's past comes to light. And that journey includes so much - first kisses, gangsters, guns, bums and saints, murder and miracles.
Highly recommended, particularly for readers with an appreciation for gritty fiction set in the rough times of Depression Era small town America. Definitely a book that will be on my shelves to be re-read, The Angels' Share has fueled my desire to read more Erskine Caldwell.
I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. This is an edited version of the review originally published on bookworlder.wordpress.com
"Some bruises take longer to surface, . . . . .and some are so deep they never come up."
Death changed William McFee's family. His grandfather, the brew master of their infamous Old Sam Bourbon distillery, hung himself with the onset of the Prohibition. Further tragedy occurred when William's four year old brother died in a head-on collision, he was a passenger in the car that his father Barley was driving. After the loss of young Henry, the McFee family became a mere shadow of its former self.
Twisted Tree, Kentucky never regained economic independence after the loss of Old Sam Bourbon, but the residents never lost hope, especially after government sanctions were lifted, that new life would inhabit the hallowed walls of the old distillery, still fragrant with the vapors of the "angels share". They just never imagined that an unknown vagrant, buried in an adjacent potter's field, would bring forth such a miracle.
"The Angels' Share" is filled with calculated tales of brutality among gangsters, a father's attempts to put his past to rest, and a young man's vision to carry on a family legacy with courage and determination. And it's a story brewed with mysteries, the miraculous circumstances that surrounded a man who remained dead throughout the entire story, yet lived in the hearts of his friends. Without a doubt, it's also a really good story.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher. The opinions stated are entirely my own.
The history was interesting: bourbon distilling, Prohibition, the Klan, mobsters. The family was disfunctional but understandable. The religious mysticism and miracles was undeveloped and a real distraction.
Some believed he was the second coming of Christ. William wasn’t so sure. But when that drifter was buried next to the family distillery, everything changed.
Now that Prohibition has ended, what the townspeople of Twisted Tree, Kentucky, need most is the revival of the Old Sam Bourbon distillery. But William McFee knows it’ll take a miracle to convince his father, Barley, to once more fill his family’s aging house with barrels full of bourbon.
When a drifter recently buried near the distillery begins to draw crowds of pilgrims, the McFees are dubious, but miracles seem to come to those who once interacted with the deceased and to those now praying at his grave. As people descend on the town to visit the “Potter’s Field Christ,” William seeks to find the connection between the tragic death of his younger brother and the mysterious drifter.
But as news spreads about the miracles at the Potter’s Field, the publicity threatens to bring the depth of Barley’s secret past to light and put the entire McFee family in jeopardy.
The Angels’ Share is a story of fathers and sons, of young romance, of revenge and redemption, and the mystery of miracles.
The Depression was hitting America hard. The people found it hard to survive this economic collapse. Surviving was definitely difficult and no one could see a light at the end of the tunnel. so people took to doing whatever they could to survive and for many that meant making and selling alcohol. Twisted Tree, Kentucky was no different and its been said that the people of Appalachia was where the act of making alcohol originated.
But there were also people that made it legally and for Twisted Tree, the Old Sam Bourbon distillery was what many of them needed to survive. But since it's closing due to the Prohibition it has left many wondering if it will ever be opened again.
But that's not all that has been going on in this small town. There has been some strange happenings lately and William McFee the main character in the story intends on finding out just what all this means and why his father would have anything to do with any of it.
Loved this story and the setting as well as time period was awesome. Love reading things about this point in time in history. Fascinating story!
**Disclosure**This book was sent to me free of charge for my honest review from the author. All opinions are my own.
This book is published by Thomas Nelson, a Christian publishing company; however, this book is not a Christian fiction book. It's not an offensive book, though, and quite interesting. I will warn you that there is a good bit of violence here. Set in 1934, prohibition is over and there is still a lot of unsettled business between some former gangs. Thus, the violence.
The townspeople of Twisted Tree, Kentucky need a revival of the Old Sam Bourbon distillery. But William McFee knows it will take a miracle to convince his father, Barley, to once more fill his family's aging house with barrels of bourbon. When a drifter recently buried near the distillery begins to draw crowds of people, the McFees are left wondering what is going on here. Miracles seem to come to those who once interacted with the deceased and to those who come from far and wide to pray at his grave. This drifter some now call 'Potter's Field Christ' has the McFees unsettled as William seeks to find the connection with the tragic death of his younger brother and this mysteries drifter.
News spreads about this drifter and all that's been happening and brings some decidedly unwanted and unwelcome attention to the McFee's, particularly Barley's secret past and the entire family is now is serious jeopardy.
While there is violence here, it's not offensive in a way to make the reader abandon the book. The writer is good at what he does and as he weaves the story, we discover that some things just don't make sense and are best left alone. I enjoyed it and it really reminded me of an old Jimmy Cagney movie. I loved the turns of phrases the author uses that were pertinent to the period, too.
*I received a copy of this book from the Fiction Guild. My review is honest and my own.
The Angel' Share Is a book I did not think I would want to read when I first receive it from the publisher. I was not impressed with the cover at all. Well, that is what happens when a reader judges a book by it's cover! I am so glad I force myself to read it. Within the first ten pages, I was hooked, this is such a great book! I highly recommend it! 5 stars. I received this book from the publisher, but was not required to write a review. My review is of my opinion.
I'll be honest, I'm a little disappointed the bad guy is fictionalized. I really hoped he was a real gangster. This was an interesting look at post-prohibition Kentucky and the distillery world. I am not that familiar with the bourbon process, but now I want to go on a tour! There is a mystical element, but it flows with the story and never overpowers the story. This is a great look at the prohibition and great depression era.
The intriguing characters and storyline kept me interested from beginning to end. I felt like I was there, as a fly on the wall, witnessing the events as they happened. I can see The Angels' Share used as a read aloud in a US History class, and I think it would be interesting to compare and contrast it with The Education of Little Tree. I also think it would make a great movie.
I received an ARC from the publisher through NetGalley.
I wasn't really sure about this book at first. I felt kinda lost and wasn't understanding what the book was about. I'm glad I kept going because slowly the author starts to develop characters that come alive. I loved the history behind prohibition and the era it was set in. In the woods of Kentucky lies distilleries. The people are glad that prohibition is over and they are ready to crank up the distillery again. Now who is going to run it?
Can you imagine running a distillery to pay bills, put food on the table and have spending money? There were plenty of people who depended on their craft but when the FBI came in and closed them, it must have been a real hardship. The story focuses on a family who has decided to start their distillery up again. The characters are interesting and I really liked the biblical reference to the story of Jesus. Some poor lost man dies and people believe he will arise again. There sit twelve believers much like the disciples waiting for the miracle to happen.
The town is a mixture of characters and for some reason I just could not follow the story. Who is this person who everyone believes is a miracle? Could it be Jesus they were witnessing with their own eyes? People in the town believe this man is making miracles happen. There is mystery , people running from the law and a man many claim could be Jesus. In this little town they need a miracle to keep it running. Asher is a great character who will play a very intricate part in this story. Who is he really? Did he come to help the town? The book is quite different but one that is worth reading.
I received a copy of this book from the Fiction Guild. The review is my own opinion.
This was not a typical book that I would normally pick up and read on my own and it was a little hard to get into at first. But once I started reading, after a couple of chapters it drew me in. Prohibition was over, the depression had set in and there were homeless everywhere. Jobs were few and far between. The McFee's were faring pretty well because of the father's illegal activity during prohibition. They were all suffering the loss of the youngest brother, Henry age four, in an automobile accident. The McFee's lived in a house with a shut down distillery behind it that had been started by the grandfather, Sam. Next to the house was a potters field where poor and indigent members of society were buried. One night with numerous lantern lights dancing about like fireflies, the oldest son, William, witnesses a burial in the field from his upstairs window. The site begins to draw crowds of people because of rumors that this man was Christ returned or a prophet able to perform miracles before his death. Even after many come and pray over his grave. The father, Barley, is being sought after by a notorious criminal, who escaped prison. Having used a false name during dealings with this criminal he feels safer using his real name. He and son William begin searching for information on this so called "prophet" and why Henry's shoes were found among his belongings. Take a wild ride through all the dealings among the people of this imaginary town called Twisted Tree. Learn of gangsters and bootlegging and miracles that happen unexpectedly. The author has a history degree and has done much research on bourbon distillery that makes this story more interesting and gives it real life. I enjoy learning real history through fiction that brings me entertainment as well. I received this book through the Fiction Guild and was not required to write a review, positive or otherwise.
4 stars- “The Angels’ Share” takes place in Kentucky during the Depression. It tells the story of the McFee family and their struggles during this time. James Markert did an amazing job of bringing the 1930’s to life. His style of writing, the time period appropriate language and just the overall tone and feel of the book really made you feel as though you were a part of the Great Depression and that time period. Reading this book made me realize just how much had transpired by the mid-1930’s and was soon to come- the Great War, Prohibition, the Depression, WWII, the Mafia, etc. That is an amazing amount of life altering events for one lifetime. This was an unusual story to be sure. The back cover of the book sums up the story nicely, that it is “a story of fathers and sons, of young romance, of revenge and redemption and of the mystery of miracles.” Ultimately, I feel this was also a story about hope during a time when there was so little of it. Admittedly, having not grown up Catholic there were some things in the book that were new for me and took me out of my comfort zone at times. I can’t say I agreed with everything in the book, but it did open my mind to some new things. This book stays with you after you read it. My mind kept mulling over the events of the book and trying to wrap itself around them. I think that was the author’s purpose- to get you to think and to challenge your views. James Markert did an amazing job creating very memorable characters, both major and minor, throughout the story. It would definitely make a great book for a book club because you will want to discuss the story with your friends. Thank you to the publisher for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
I read The Angels' Share months ago, and the story stays with me. The title refers to the evaporation that occurs with bourbon and is said to be given to angels for protection of the distillery. I learned a lot about distilleries and about the role of the Mafia during Prohibition, as well as the Ku Klux Klan and their hold on the South.
The story is set in 1934 Twisted Tree, Kentucky, during the Great Depression and just after Prohibition ended. The events that happened and the descriptions that were included brought this time to life. The town has mostly died away, and William McFee knows it will take a miracle to convince his father, Barley, to bring the distillery back to life.
A drifter, Asher Keating, the "Potter's Field Christ," dies in the field next to the distillery. Miracles seem to follow his path, and even after he is dead, people come to pray at his grave. Because of this event, and William's news stories, Barley's secret past is uncovered and the entire family is put in jeopardy.
James Markert, the author, classifies this book as commercial fiction set during historical times, rather than straight historical fiction. He says it represents what the old distillery towns could have been like.
This book isn't the typical type of story that I would read. I found it both interesting and difficult to read. At one point I even considered not finishing the book. I kept on reading though and slowly my interest in the story grew.
I liked most of the characters in the book yet I never really felt connected to any of them. I did enjoy the budding relationship between William and Polly, one of Asher Keating's followers. One of the most interesting parts of the story was discovering who Asher Keating was through the stories of the people who knew him.
The author did a good job of providing descriptions and details to make me feel like I was there in Twisted Tree. There is a lot of detail in the book about distilleries and the process of making bourbon. While I found the details to be interesting after awhile it just became too much and I don't think it really added anything to the story. In fact, I think it kind of bogged down the story just a bit.
If you're looking for a different type of story pick up this book. It starts out a bit slow but stick with it because it gets better and is an enjoyable read.
I received a free copy of this book from the publisher and was not required to write a positive review. All opinions are mine.
This was a touching coming of age story with a message all played out against the backdrop of a richly detailed time of American history.
William is the oldest son in the McFee's when we pick up the story their family is still reeling from a family tragedy and we see each member of the family just barely making it through the day in different ways. But once a drifter that has a following is buried in the Potter's field next to their house, miraculous events begin happening and somehow all these secrets and storylines begin to intertwine to create a beautiful canvas of a story.
William truly makes the transition into adulthood as he finds his purpose in life and explores his passion for being a reporter by reporting on these miracles. I thought this story was pretty solid on the historical facts and would definitely recommend it to fans of this historical period in literature or for fans of Boardwalk Empire or Road To Perdition.
You will find a fantastic read that will keep you flipping pages in this slower paced story just to discover how everything winds back around at the end to who is Asher? And how was he able to affect so many people he met?.
I very much enjoyed this book as it was different. It is set in 1930's Kentucky and tells the story of the McFee family who own a bourbon distillery that suffered during Prohibition and The Depression. It also has another story running through it of a drifter that is buried in the Potter's Field on their property and some people believe he is the second coming of Christ. This isn't exactly historical fiction but much of the distillery story could be considered so as it details events as they occurred during that time period and incorporates some actual places. There are many themes running through this book: a story of fathers and sons, coming-of-age, young romance, redemption, spirituality (to name a few).
I learned that the Angels' share is the quantity of whiskey lost to evaporation during the aging process. I also enjoyed the author's historical note at the end of the book--it enhanced the overall read and brought back memories of my visit to Kentucky Bourbon Trail--you'll want to go there if you haven't been.
I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads.
Yeah, sounds like a strange combination of what too much alcohol can do to the human's brain. Yet...there is more to this book. Even if the topics are handled with a tad heavy pen and the skills that needs polishing, there definitely is a talent for story, a vivid imagination and the drive towards the unexplainable. And the gangsters, mysteries, pretty women and men being men. I'd say that this is novel for those who like Southern fiction. Author Billy Coffey comes to mind - even if Billy Coffey this is not, but as I said before, the potential is here. Both authors like to play with the unexplainable and at the first glance I got shocked (theologically, too) only to discover that there is a true quest for the truth.
This novel has its weak spots - yet it shoots well into the hidden place in my heart where dwells the desire to explain the unexpainable and the hope that there is a higher plan concerning the pain.
** “Something spiritual is happening. We can’t rightfully deny people. Belief in something … is a powerful thing. Especially now. Black clouds are raging across the plains. … Crime lords and mob bosses are filling each other with holes.” **
James Markert’s novel “The Angels’ Share” asks an interesting question — what if Jesus came back to Earth?
It’s 1934 and William McFee has two dreams: to become a top notch reporter and to become a master distiller while reopening his family’s bourbon distillery, which never reopened after Prohibition. But his father Barley, who has a secret and danger-filled past, cannot get over the death of his youngest child, Henry, who had a special gift of dancing, and therefore has no interest in reopening the family business.
Everything changes one day, though, when a drifter, Asher Keating, is buried in the potter’s field next to the McFee property. Called the Potter’s Field Christ because he seemed to be able to heal people and perform other miracles while alive, masses of people visit Asher’s grave, looking for healing and miracles from the dead man many considered the second coming of Christ.
When the dead man’s healing power reaches from the grave and touches the McFees, William begins to see changes for the better — both in himself and his father.
“The Angels’ Share” is an interesting tale of forgiveness (of one’s self as well as others), belief and faith. It also deals with very real topics like homelessness, mental illness, feuds and loyalty. It delves into the idea of prodigies and that we all have different degrees of giftedness. It constantly repeats the idea of God sometimes give a little “extra” to some people, and sometimes those people need to be protected.
Anyone who enjoys historical fiction, reading about the Prohibition and Depression eras, the post-World War I era, the history of distilling bourbon and whiskey, or the impact of the KKK during the 1920s and ’30s will enjoy this novel. A slight warning — it does contain some violence and some very mild swearing and mild inferences to sensual situations. Fans of writers like Billy Coffey will enjoy author James Markert and his latest novel “The Angels’ Share.”
Four stars out of five.
Thomas Nelson provided this complimentary copy for my honest, unbiased review.
I received the book, The Angels' Share by James Markert because I'm a Fiction Guild Elite Reader book review blogger. It wouldn't be my normal book genre if I were out shopping for a book, but nonetheless, it was worth a read.
The Angels' Share is a historical novel that is true to the times of the Prohibition and the Depression. William "Willie" McFee grew up in Twisted Tree, Kentucky. The McFee family is pretty well off financially even though the town itself is suffering the effects of the McFee family bourbon distillery being shut down by Prohibition. Willie's father, Barley doesn't seem to have any intent on reopening the distillery even though Willie is encouraging him to do so in order to achieve his dream of becoming a distiller as his grandfather had planned.
Then a drifter named Asher Keating shows up and he seems to be able to fix people's problems. He dies and is buried in the Potter's Field near the McFee distillery. Gossip begins to circulate about Asher performing miracles. Asher's grave starts getting lots of visitors who are praying at the site, and some strange things begin to happen it the town. Willie starts to investigate the situation and he discovers facts about what his father did during the Prohibition and things about the death of his younger brother. Willie begins to write stories about what he is uncovering and gets them published in a Louisville newspaper, causing all kinds of things to happen.
The characters in the book are well developed. The story is full of mystery and unanswered questions. The townspeople are representative of people caught in a difficult situation they cannot control. There are a lot of subplots in this storyline and they will definitely keep readers engrossed in this story.
I received a copy of this book without cost from the publisher through The Fiction Guild, a Thomas Nelson/Zondervan Elite Reader book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review and the opinions expressed in this post are my own.
My Louisville Book Babes Book Club just finished "The Angels' Share" by James Markert. We were delighted that the author took time out of his busy schedule to join us for our discussion. Consensus is we all loved this book. We had so much to talk about and so many questions to ask the author. Thank goodness he was there. James's ability to create interesting and complex characters.......some you have to learn to love.......but most you do, transported us all back to a time in America and most importantly Kentucky when times were hard and a nickle was earned by the sweat of your brow or by the stave of a barrel. The Angels' Share I highly recommend this book and especially if you are a Kentuckian..........please read this book! You will not be disappointed!
The McFee family is somehow still doing well, mom buying new dresses and never scraping by for food, despite the distillery being closed up, and everyone else is scrounging. How can that be? Well, someone hid away some cabbage (i.e. money) but that isn’t the focus of the book. What is, well the distillery is making a comeback, and the town of Twisted Tree is about to get back on it’s feet.
What also has improved the situation is this itinerant man who seemed to cure people, miracles they say. And now he’s buried there on the land. His close followers are now waiting three days to see him rise. Other people have come and prayed over his grave and good things happen, more miracles. Is Asher Keating actually Jesus?
The McFee family don’t know what to make of Keating, but budding reporter William writes an article about the man and finally has a story the paper accepted. Now more people are flocking to their land. Barley, father of the family isn’t too happy about that, establishes, but discovers that the youngest son’s shoes were worn around Keating’s neck in his final days and wants know what’s behind that. Father and son investigate into Keating, who he was, while also reopening the distillery and trying to get the mob off Barley's back.
I enjoyed the language and the feel of the story. Phrases like “now close your head” (meaning stop talking) and others aren’t something heard much anymore, if they ever did outside of Kentucky. The historical aspect of this book felt right. It takes place during the depression just after prohibition ends. People are seeking salvation anywhere they can find it.
James Markert has delivered another satisfying and well-crafted novel filled with themes of love, revenge, and redemption. The Angels' Share captures one immediately and doesn’t let go until the very last page, if even then. The characters are skillfully developed and seem so real, the reader will no doubt think of them long after the book is passed on to a friend. The author’s ability set a scene with perfect similes (… as lush as Kentucky grass after a spring rain …) punctuate this wonderful story set in rural Kentucky following World War One.
If you’re looking for a book to get lost in, look no further.