Books are food for my soul! Pull up a beach chair and stick your toes in the sand as the Jersey surf rolls in and out, now open your book and let your imagination take you away.

Monday, August 8, 2016

My Darling Dorothy by Jo Virden (Author Guest Post / Book Review)

In association with author Jo Virden, Jersey Girl Book Reviews is pleased to host the virtual book tour event for My Darling Dorothy!

Author Guest Post

 A New Twist On Upcycling

Upcycling is defined as creative reuse of unwanted objects, transferring them into something new and environmentally friendly. The idea of turning empty wine bottles into a chandelier, old candles into new ones, or discarded forks into dragonfly garden decorations tickles my imagination and forces me to see objects differently.

As I contemplated this art form I realized that that is exactly what I did with my parent’s love letters. Reading their letters and transforming them into a novel certainly fits the criteria of making something new out of an old object, though it goes far beyond that. I recommend to one and all reading those forgotten letters that sit in dusty boxes in the darkest corner of the basement. Here’s why:

As you read the letters you are immediately transformed into another time and place. You suspend your own challenges and concerns and begin to experience history first-hand. How could you read the following lines and not be affected:

“Have had hell scared out of me a few times and expect plenty more to come, but none so close but what it could be worse. . .Jap planes visit us all the way from 3 to a dozen or more times a day but as yet haven’t bombed us. All have fox holes for those occasions that make it somewhat safer.”

Reading your parents’ love letters on the one hand may seem rather invasive. On the other hand, you will begin to experience your parents as people, freed from the confines of their role as your parents. They become multidimensional characters who are young and vibrant, full of hopes and dreams. Here is an example:

“I have your picture sitting here but it hasn’t said a word. It’s taking some awful beatings riding around with me. The frame is a little beat up but the picture is ok yet. It’s the most valuable piece of property I have. Those lips look like they were all in the mood for a big kiss, in fact my highest ambition right now, if possible, would be to press my lips against those lips. I hope to God it isn’t too long till we can act that out together…”

Reading letters from someone who died too soon brings that person back to life. As you read about their day-to-day concerns they are far from mere dust in the ground. If only for a few moments, they live, they dream, and they hold hopes for their future. It becomes harder and harder to stop reading their letters, because you know when you stop reading them, they once again become only a distant memory.

If you have the opportunity to read some of your own letters – and here I must stop and declare a debt of gratitude to my dear departed, hoarding of “precious junk” mother, for saving all those letters I wrote home over a twenty year period. Thanks to her, I can now experience myself as a young person, not as a faded memory or what I thought I remembered, but in real-time.

Remember vowing you would one day do something with those letters gathering dust in your basement? The time is now. You don’t have to write a novel about them, but you might piece together your family history and find a forgotten story that explains your father’s fear of taking risks or your mother’s lost dreams.

After you read them invest in some acid-free holders. Letters will deteriorate over time if left folded. Place the letters in a notebook or scrapbook binder. Add some old photos that you have lying around. Before you know it you have created a beautiful family heirloom.

Go – read – upcycle your history!

About The Author

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.

Book Review

My Darling Dorothy by Jo Virden
Publisher: Plainview Publications
Publication Date: Paperback - May 27, 2016 / eBook - June 16, 2016
Format: Paperback - 398 pages
               Kindle - 531 KB 
               Nook - 871 KB
ISBN: 978-0997430806
BNID: 2940153083568
Genre: Historical Fiction 

Buy The Book:

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author / publisher in exchange for my honest review and participation in a virtual book tour. 

Book Description:

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?

Book Excerpt:

Beaver City
     Dorothy opened Tommie’s latest letter with great anticipation and began to read:

Dearest Dorothy,
I wrote you a while back we were to get out of school August 1. I put in for a furlough starting August 4 for 10 days, just like I told you. Then yesterday they said we wouldn’t get out before manaevers, or just in time to go. Manaevers were put off until September 1.
Had the leave all signed and everything. I got right down on my knees & begged the captain to let me go, but no dice. Gosh darn I was disgusted. The devils built us all up for an awful let down. There was a bunch of us in the same batch, but that’s the way of this army. So now it looks like it’ll be Christmas if something else doesn’t happen. Right now I wouldn’t be surprised at anything. I feel like I could just bawl if it would do any good. Was so set in seeing you again that now I feel like I lost all I ever lived for.

     Carol put her arm around Dorothy. “Hey, kiddo. What’s up? You looked so happy this morning. Besides, it’s Friday, and isn’t Tommie coming in on Monday?”
     “Was coming, you mean? He says he can’t come now. I don’t know what to think. All this confusion. First he wants to wait until he’s out of the army to get married, then he wants to get married at Christmas, and he’s coming home so we can make plans, and I get all excited and think maybe we should get married; then he writes and says he’s not coming, and I’m thinking maybe I don’t want to get married at all!”
     Carol patted Dorothy’s back. “Well, maybe this is for the best. It’ll give you time to get your head on straight about everything.”

MR. ANDERSON CALLED Carol into his office. He cleared his throat several times. “Carol, there is a position opening at the main office in Lincoln. I would hate to lose you, and, to be honest, I thought about not even mentioning it, but I couldn’t do it. The job would be perfect for you. Here’s the information. I want you to give some serious thought to taking the position.” Carol had waited for this moment for a long time. She knew her work was exemplary; she knew she could do the job in Lincoln without even reading the job description. She also knew her father was dying slowly, painfully, and that her mother had no way of managing without her help. Without hesitation, she walked to Dorothy’s desk and placed the letter on top of a pile of photos where Dorothy would see it when she came in.

DOROTHY READ THE letter, and then looked around, wondering how it found its way to her desk. She spotted Carol, and in one colossal moment of perfect clarity, she knew what had happened.
She marched to Carol’s desk with the letter in hand. “You have to do this, she proclaimed. “I can look in on your parents every day. I can even help your ma cook and clean.”                                                                               “You have enough on your plate with your pa and Walter, and what happens when you leave here like you always say you’re going to do? No, I can’t. I belong here, but you could take the job. I put that on your desk for you, kiddo. It fits you to a T.”                                                                                                                         A shift began within Dorothy, a lightness she hadn’t experienced since before her mother died. She couldn’t quite put her finger on it. What was it?
     No attachments, no strings, just me being me. I can be Dorothy or Dottie, not Frank’s daughter or Jessie’s niece. I could even change my name if I wanted to.
     “So, what do you think?” Carol asked, pulling Dorothy out of her trance. “I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I think I’m interested.”
     “And what about Tommie? What will he think?”
     Dorothy stopped, dumbfounded. Not once had Tommie entered her mind. Sooner or later, the truth always emerges. Once the fa├žade begins to crumble, there is no turning back, no pretending it didn’t happen, that it isn’t true. Tommie had filled an emptiness, a vacant spot, but filling a void isn’t the same as filling a heart. The truth nearly knocked her over.

Dorothy spent that evening writing Tommie a letter, trying to explain her uncertainty. Crumpled sheets of paper covered her bedroom floor. How do you tell someone that you don’t love him, or at least that you’re pretty sure you don’t love him, maybe even that you wanted it to be true so desperately that you convinced yourself he was “the one”? But, maybe he isn’t.

My Book Review:

The inspiration from a bundle of letters from World War II found in her parent's basement, led author Jo Virden to pen the beautifully written historical fiction, My Darling Dorothy. The author utilized these authentic letters to weave a timeless account into the friendships, romantic relationships, and the trials and tribulations between three young people through their letter correspondence during the Great Depression and World War II years of 1930s-1940s.

Set in Nebraska, Europe, and the Philippines, the readers follow the evolving lives of Dorothy, Jack, and Tommie, the two young men who she fell in love with, during the World War II time period. The reader is easily drawn into these three young people's lives filled with hopes, dreams, hardships, emotional traumas, challenges, struggles, love, losses, and successes that they experienced during this difficult time period.

My Darling Dorothy is an emotional and compelling tale that will tug at the heartstrings and stir the soul. You can't help but get drawn in as Dorothy, Jack, and Tommie's story unfolds. The author does a wonderful job of writing an intricate and romantic tale rich in authentic historical description of the Great Depression and World War II years, and masterfully interweave it with Dorothy, Jack, and Tommie's true-to-life experiences. This is an amazing story that will take the reader on an emotional journey that will resonate with them for a very long time.


Virtual Book Tour

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