Review: The Calling of Ella MacFarland

Author: Linda Brooks Davis

I came across this book on one of the Christian author groups I am a part of on Facebook. I believe this was one of the ones I won in a contest. But as life has it, it took me a little while to get around to reading it. I wasn’t sure what to expect from it at first, but I am glad to have finally read it and look forward to reading more in the series by Linda Brooks Davis.

While the cover comes across a little like a romance book, this is a historical fiction novel. I would place it in the same genre as the Zion Covenant Series that I have reviewed in the past. While eventually there is something of a romance in it, as this is Christian fiction, you will actually enjoy reading about it. The love written is respectful, loving, and beautiful. But, that is not what the story is about, not really. As the title says, this is about the calling of Ella. And what is she called to? As a young woman living at the turn of the 20th century, she could be called to a few things: A mother, a nurse, a teacher, an activist, and maybe a couple of other vocations. This book delves into her life and the lives of many women embracing tradition and change in the middle of settled territory in America.

As far as historical novels go, this is a pretty good one. Honestly, I haven’t read much historical fiction set in America, so this was a treat. There were key historical features that the author included that fascinated me, including attire, relationships, and realities of life. One unique historical fact that the author featured is the type of music they did in their country church: sacred harp singing. I know about this style of music through my writing on hymns, but I rarely see it come up so casually in any writing, let alone a novel. Another historical tidbit was how many mothers taught their children at home, a fact often forgotten in our modern school age. This novel also deals with issues entering the culture at the time and how they affected people and relationships, such as settling in Indian territory and the women’s rights movement.

Davis’ novel also deals with other touchy subjects such as out-of-wedlock births, assault, and rights found closer to home. Along these lines, Davis’ writing does not shy away from these difficult topics. And yet, she describes them in such a way as to not be too triggering for the reader. Even so, I mention them so that the reader may be aware. But overall, Davis’ writing is smooth with believable characters and engaging storylines. I ate up this book, and I look forward to reading the subsequent books in the series.

If you are looking for engaging historical fiction that deals with the past as it was and as it was changing, this is the book for you.

Blessings to you and yours,

~Madelyn Rose Craig

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