Ella’s War

Written by Rusty Allen
Review by Karen Bordonaro

Ella’s War unfolds on the shore of 1940s Delaware on the Delmarva Peninsula, as it is known to the author and other local Delawareans. German submarines are sowing terror and wreaking havoc in these coastal waters by targeting American ships.

Ella is a young farm woman with a common-law husband and a ten-year-old son. Her partner is sent to fight the Germans in Italy, and Ella is left to manage the farm and raise their son in his absence. Meanwhile, Germans captured in Delmarva are housed in newly built POW camps and sent out to work in local factories and farms during their incarceration.

When a German submarine officer, who is now a prisoner, is assigned to Ella’s farm, she must navigate both a working and personal relationship with him and his presence in her family life. This novel follows a sequence of events that occur among these characters in the last two years of the war.

Ella’s war plays out in many different ways. It encompasses not only her own personal sacrifices and adjustments, but also those of her son, her neighbors, the prisoner, and her partner. Amidst all this turmoil and these changes, Ella must learn how to become true to her own needs and find a viable path forward for herself. The decisions she makes arise from these circumstances but are universally understandable. Recommended for readers who want to broaden their own understandings of life on the home front during World War II, in a setting that may not be familiar to most.