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Reviewed by Edith Wairimu for Readers' Favorite
Ella: A Tale of Love, War and Redemption by David Hess is a compelling historical novel that brings to life the trauma, devastation, and hope that followed the American Civil War. In 1863, Nicholas Haff begins his journey back to Herronville, Pennsylvania after surviving the tragic Battle of Gettysburg. The hope of returning to his childhood love, Ella, has carried him through the war. But the man returning home is not the man who left. Despite everything remaining the same as he had left it in his home, deep down Nicholas knows that the war has changed the man he was before. Ella has also suffered atrocities of her own. As they help each other heal, a devastating family secret and a heart-breaking disaster destroy their hope of ever being together. Nicholas moves forward surrounded by the brokenness caused by the war. His path leads to many unforeseen twists but he remains hopeful that he will find love again.
The horrors of war and the psychological and physical damage the Civil War leaves behind are evident in David Hess’s novel, Ella. The book effectively explores both internal and external conflict through its main characters. Nicholas struggles with PTSD from the war while Ella is battling physical trauma. The protagonists are likable and inspiring. They face their circumstances with resilience and hope. On the other hand, the antagonists bring out the brutality and effects of the war. The plot is marked by many unexpected events which make it engrossing. In the end, Nicholas encourages the reconciliation between soldiers from different sides of the war, introducing another critical theme into the story. Ella: A Tale of Love, War and Redemption is a poignant historical novel with many surprising twists.