Title: Past Encounters
Author: Davina Blake
Release Date: November 22, 2014
Acquired Via: Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours
The day Rhoda Middleton opens a letter from another woman, she becomes convinced her husband, Peter, is having an affair. But when Rhoda tracks the mysterious woman down, she discovers she is not Peter’s lover after all, but the wife of his best friend, Archie Foster. There is only one problem – Rhoda has never even heard of Archie Foster.
Devastated by this betrayal of trust, Rhoda tries to find out why Peter has kept this friendship a secret for so long. Her search leads her back to 1945, but as she gradually uncovers Peter’s wartime experiences she must wrestle with painful memories of her own. For Rhoda too cannot escape the ghosts of the past.
Taking us on a journey from the atmospheric filming of Brief Encounter, to the extraordinary Great March of prisoners of war through snow-bound Germany, Past Encounters explores themes of friendship, hope, and how in the end, it is the small things that enable love to survive.
Praise for Past Encounters
"Her characters are so real that they linger in the mind long after the book is back on the shelf. Highly Recommended!" - The Historical Novels Review
Praise for Deborah Swift
"stellar historical fiction" - Orange Prize Nominee Ann Weisgarber
"compelling'" - Westmorland Gazette
"The past comes alive through impeccable research...and the sheer power of descriptive prose" - Lancashire Evening Post
I think I went through all of the emotions while reading Past Encounters. I also alternated between like and dislike of both the main characters, Rhoda and Peter. At the beginning, I really disliked Rhoda, then toward the middle I really disliked Peter, and all throughout I felt really sorry for both of them.
Blake broke up the timeline so that we saw the points of view of Rhoda, Peter and Helen in 1955 and Rhoda and Peter from around 1940 to 1945. In 1955, Rhoda finds a note written from Helen, and believes that Peter has been cheating on her. Helen is actually the widow of Archie, who was Peter's best friend during and after the war. Peter has been keeping Archie and Helen a secret from Rhoda, so Rhoda befriends Helen to discover what her husband is hiding. It was interesting to see how Peter and Rhoda met and fell in love at the beginning, and then see the next chapter in 1955 where they are basically estranged. The break in the timeline made me more sympathetic to both characters, because I think otherwise, I would have only been sympathetic toward Peter until almost the end of the timeline.
Although Past Encounters may seem to focus on the love between Rhoda and Peter, this is not necessarily a romance. It is more historical fiction than historical romance. But, the amount of research that Blake put into the book is apparent from the details of the war, Carnforth and the filming of Brief Encounter. Blake shows us equally how hard war is on the men at war, and also the people that are left behind, whether they are the women or the men who chose not to fight. Because of that, I would recommend this to anyone with an interest in historical fiction, especially World War II fiction.
Amazon US | Amazon UK | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
About the Author
For more information visit Davina Blake's website and blog. You can also find her on Twitter.
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To satisfy FTC guidelines, I am disclosing that I received an advance copy of the book from Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.