PORT TOWNSEND — Former Peninsula Daily News reporter and columnist Diane Urbani de la Paz has published “All My Love: A Story of War and Hope,” her first book.
A work of literary nonfiction, “All My Love” begins with the discovery of the letters the late Donovan Lusk wrote to his fiancée and then his wife, Anne, during World War II. He signed nearly all of these letters with “All my love, Don.”
The book follows Anne and Don’s romance and wartime marriage.
It also travels, from Urbani de la Paz’s point of view, to the places where Don served: France during General George Patton’s Lorraine Campaign, and Luxembourg during the Battle of the Bulge.
The story descends below the decks of the Queen Mary, the troop ship that carried Don and 15,000 other soldiers from New York Harbor to England in the summer of 1944.
It visits a military hospital outside Liverpool, to which Don was evacuated on New Year’s Day 1945. And it visits Percy Jones Hospital, the fortress-like facility in Battle Creek, Mich., where Anne worked and saw thousands of wounded men.
Since this book is a parallel love story, it also takes readers to Port Angeles, where Urbani de la Paz met Anne and Don’s son, Phil Lusk.
The two had their first date in 2012, married in 2014, and embarked on trips to Europe in 2017 and 2018, when they researched Don’s time at war.
They also visited the 107-year-old farm where Anne, daughter of Finnish immigrants, grew up on the Upper Peninsula of Michigan; they then traveled to Long Beach, Calif., where the Queen Mary is docked.
At age 20, Don had enlisted in the Army Specialized Training Program to become an engineer working far behind the front lines. But the Allied Forces suffered deep losses in the Normandy invasion and in France’s Lorraine. Infantry replacements were badly needed, so onto the battlefield Don went.
He witnessed some of the worst fighting of the war.
“Something kept him going: the letters he wrote to Anne,” Urbani de la Paz said.
Those letters weren’t about what he was seeing in battle. Instead, Don dreamed, in his cursive handwriting, about the future they would have together.
“This was a story I had to tell,” said Urbani de la Paz. “To me, it’s about the power of letters, love and hope in the dark.”
“All My Love” is available in paperback at Port Book and News, 104 E. First St., Port Angeles, at Imprint Bookstore, 820 Water St., Port Townsend, and from the author. To order a copy, contact either of the bookstores or email Urbani de la Paz at [email protected]
Diane Urbani de la Paz, former reporter and columnist for the Peninsula Daily News, continues to live in Port Townsend while pursuing other roles.