Life and love turn on random events, and what can be more random than war? Take a journey of courage and temptation with a young mother, Ella Hall, left to fend for her farm and child by the departure of her restless common-law husband, Lee Tingle, to World War II. Is it her patriotic duty to save her farm or a chance to leave the land and pursue her other dreams?
The only way is to reluctantly accept the farm labor of German POWs. Once the distaste and explosiveness of this arrangement pass, Ella is left with one daily prisoner worker, Dieter Schneider, first mate from a surrendered U-boat. The subs that have terrorized her seaside town with survivors pouring in.
Will this strange figure become their friend or remain at arm’s length?
The complexities of relationship, along with Dieter’s loyalty to fellow POWs, create decisions both must navigate. Ella’s spying and manipulative biddy of a neighbor, Lida Crouch, complicates her world. A flirtatious, racist, German-hating town cop is an ever-present threat. But Ella’s beloved cousin, Army Lieutenant Everett Hall, provides cover for her. And her best friend, Clarissa, is changed forever when she joins the women volunteers at the naval shipyard. Ella’s choices climax when Lee arrives home with war trauma and lingering wounds, and discovers a German soldier assigned to their farm. Ella is caught between two virile and complex men, both of whom she loves.
Told from multiple points of view, including that of Ella and Lee’s son, 10-year-old Reese Tingle, this historically accurate novel paints wartime heroism and struggles with gritty realism. It’s big themes in a small package, with a literary bent, and with romance and coming of age at its heart.
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Where did the idea for Ella’s War come from?
From my son, Beau. When he was in grade school and we were taking our camping trips and other getaways to Lewes, I told him about the German U-boat that had surrendered there and showed him a picture. Around the same time, his grandfather was telling him about the many German POWs who worked on their farms out in Michigan. When he then learned how many German POWs had also worked in southern Delaware, he said. “Hey, Dad, wouldn’t it be interesting to write a story about a farm family in World War II down in Delaware, where the husband went off to war and the wife had a love thing for German U-boater who worked on their place?”
I said, “Yes! Please write that story.” But he wouldn’t. He wanted me to have it. He wanted me to do it. He urged me on. And now I gift that story to you.
Ella’s War playlist
Songs that appear in the story
Did you know…
More than 400,000 POWs lived and worked in the U.S. during World War II.
German U-boats sunk some 200 ships along the East Coast of the U.S. during the war.
After the war, some German prisoners returned to the U.S. because of love for the life and people they had found here.
As he spoke, he gently rubbed the place between her shoulders that got so tight sometimes. “But I have something else to love, even more than just this country,” he said, drawing her in…
Dieter Schneider, from Ella’s War by Rusty Allen