A timeless World War II love story…
Based on authentic letters from the era, My Darling Dorothy is a timeless love story that transcends both hard times and the brutal impact of war. The tumult of the Great Depression and World War II provides the background for a novel about three young people; Tommie, Jack and Dorothy and their challenges, struggles, defeats and triumphs.
Tommie struggles to survive the Bataan Death March in the fall of 1941, clinging to his dream of a gratifying future with Dorothy as his bride. On the frontlines of the European Theatre, Jack experiences the horrors of endless battle. Dorothy, caught between the two, works to maintain her dream of a life beyond small-town Nebraska. The hopes and hardships they share are reflected in the letters that they exchange. Are they remnants of lost dreams, or the foundation for a joyful future?
Jo Virden is the author of A Passion For Life: Ruth Marie Colville. Her first love is writing short stories. My Darling Dorothy, which started as a short story, evolved into Jo’s first novel. She is passionate about promoting childhood literacy and spends many hours volunteering in reading programs throughout the Denver Metro area. She lives in Arvada, Colorado with her husband, Bill, and she enjoys outdoor photography, long walks in the Rocky Mountains and spending time with her grandson, Cyrus.
Read an Excerpt
One Month Later
The entrenching tool that passed for a shovel made a shallow dip in the ground. He emptied the clay soil
and dug again. He repeated the action in a rhythmic motion and continued talking to himself. I’m safe. It’s
over for now. I did what they trained me to do. He cringed at the sound of an artillery shell exploding in
the distance, and his pace increased. Gotta get this foxhole dug.
The company clerk, his hands full of mail, jarred Smitty out of his absorption with creating a safe
haven for the night. “I wish the noise would stop just for a little bit. Don’t you?” Smitty asked, trying to
determine why the clerk was there, disturbing his all-consuming mission.
“Hey, man, it’s a war, but today’s your lucky day, soldier.” He held up two boxes and a handful of
letters. “This is all for you.”
“For me? What is it? Is it for my truck?”
“No soldier, this is all from home. Remember home? The good ole USA?”
Smitty nodded toward his foxhole. “Better finish this first.”
“The invasion is over. We’re here, on Italian soil. We’re doin’ fine. Why don’t you just take a little
break and look at some mail?”
Smitty stared at the clerk, dropped his shovel, and sat down. “That’s what I’ll do. I’ll sit down. Thanks,
The clerk handed him the packages and letters. “Take it easy, man. Enjoy yourself a little.”
Smitty read the return address on one of the boxes: “Mrs. Jack G. Smith, Beaver City, Nebraska.” He
tried to make sense of it. This box is from back home? How did this stuff get here in the middle of a war?
Smitty watched the clerk as he walked away. He said we’re doin’ fine. The invasion is over. He ducked as
another shell exploded with a deafening blast. Maybe I better finish my foxhole. He began to dig—faster
now, with the prizes from home waiting for him to finish.
Twenty minutes later, he slid into the dark safety of his own personal bomb shelter, grabbing his
bounty on the way down. The tape holding the box shut made a loud popping sound as he tore at the
wrapping paper, yanking it off in one large piece. He opened the lid with calculated movements, finding
great pleasure in extending the last step before unveiling the treasures inside. A sack of butterscotch
candy caught his eye. He opened the bag, selected a piece, and popped it into his mouth. “My favorite,” he
said out loud to the dirt walls of his new home.
A white envelope with a lipstick kiss on the seal captured his attention. He picked up the envelope and
smelled the lipstick. “Oh, darlin’, you smell so damned good.”
Photographs of Dorothy in a new fur coat, Dorothy and Annie standing in front of his parents’ house,
and Dorothy standing in front of his Ford pickup all spilled from the envelope and filled him with a deep
sense of melancholy that seeped into his bones. He put the photos back into the envelope and popped
another piece of candy into his mouth. Savoring the sweet flavor of the butterscotch, he considered the
final contents of the box: V-mail stationery wrapped in a blue ribbon. Pulling a pencil out of his rucksack,
he flattened the cardboard box into a makeshift desk and began writing:
Somewhere in Italy My Darling Dorothy,
Hello honey, how are you? How’s everything by now. It’s sure been a long time since I have had a chance to write. As near as I can remember it’s been a month since I wrote but I’ve had a pretty good reason for not writing. I have been pretty busy since coming to Italy. I can’t tell much about it just now. The censor would block it if I did. I can say that I’ve seen a lot of combat duty since I’ve been here. For the time being we have everything under control. I had a few scares at first but it wasn’t as bad as it could have been. Darling, pleasedon’t worry just because I’m over here, because I’m plenty safe where I’m at. I imagine you hear plenty about the whole thing on the radio and in the paper.
Honey, I sure thank you a lot for the package, the candy sure tastes delicious and I’m using some of the V-mail now. I suppose you’re wishing I’d use more of it. Ha. I was digging a fox hole when one of the boys brought the package to me, what a coincidence. I also got a bunch of letters and a package from the folks too, so you see I’m doing quite well. Those pictures were good, they made me feel sort of homesick though.
Well Honey hope you’re OK. Tell the rest hello for me. I don’t think it will be too long till we win this war and I’ll be home. I love you darling.
All my love, Smitty
His eyelids closed. Sleep came for the first time in three days as his head rested against the dirt wall of his
foxhole and his hands cradled the box full of treasures from home.