Review: Past Encounters by Davina Blake

Publication Date: November 22, 2014 CreateSpace Paperback; 442p

Genre: Historical Fiction/Literary Fiction

Past Encounters book cover

England 1955.

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.

Includes bonus material for reading groups.


It’s not too often I get to read books about the second world war or about people’s lives during that time period and when I do, I jump at the chance. The themes in this book contain real life experiences of prisoners of wars and the author does a great job in drawing out what the human condition must have been like at the time.

I found Peter and Rhonda to be fascinating yet complicated characters. I guess you can say their situation was a difficult one and there were secrets they were hiding from each other that made the situation even more difficult. To be honest I wasn’t sure how the author was going to reveal those secrets and how it would all tie together as a plot-if you will. Confusing I know, but that is how complex the story is. Again, the two are complicated characters.

Peter’s experiences in the POW camp were heartbreaking and so raw. One can tell that the author did her research.

I’m not sure I feel that Peter’s reasons for keeping his relationship with Archie a secret was right and even more so when his marriage with Rhonda was on uneven ground. I felt that is a betrayal even in the sense of cheating. Hard to explain really. One must read the book to understand what I mean….

Rhonda bothered me in many ways and I felt that she should have dealt with the situation head on from the very beginning…..having said that it really makes you think about the relationships you have in real life and the choices you make. This story really hit home for me and gave me a lot to think about.

I’m giving this story four stars. Highly recommend.

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

Buy the Book

Amazon US Amazon UK

About the Author

Davina Blake used to be a set and costume designer for theatre and TV, during which time she developed a love of research which fueled her passion for the past. She holds an MA in Creative Writing from Lancaster University and also writes successful seventeenth century historicals under the pen name Deborah Swift. ‘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 From Davina: ‘I was inspired to write ‘Past Encounters’ because I live close to the railway station where the iconic ‘Brief Encounter’ was filmed in 1945. I have often used the refreshment room that featured in the film when waiting for a train. I love a good cup of tea, preferably accompanied by a chocolate brownie!’

For more information visit Davina Blake’s website and blog. You can also find her on Twitter.

Past Encounters Blog Tour Schedule

Saturday, November 15 Spotlight & Giveaway at Passages to the Past

Sunday, November 16 Review at Library Educated

Monday, November 17 Review at Dianne Ascroft Blog Review at Flashlight Commentary

Tuesday, November 18 Review at Oh, For the Hook of a Book!

Wednesday, November 19 Review at Just One More Chapter

Thursday, November 20 Review at Ageless Pages Reviews

Friday, November 21 Review & Interview at Bookish

Saturday, November 22 Review at History From a Woman’s Perspective

Monday, November 24 Review at A Bookish Affair Review & Giveaway at Peeking Between the Pages

Tuesday, November 25 Guest Post at A Bookish Affair

Wednesday, November 26 Review at Book Nerd

Thursday, November 27 Interview at The Maiden’s Court

Saturday, November 29 Spotlight at What Is That Book About

Monday, December 1 Review at Layered Pages Review & Interview at Casual Readers

Tuesday, December 2 Review at My Reader’s Block Review at A Bibliotaph’s Reviews

Wednesday, December 3 Review at The Worm Hole Review at Diary of an Eccentric

Thursday, December 4 Review at Beth’s Book Reviews Guest Post at Historical Tapestry

Friday, December 5 Review at Bibliophilia, Please

Saturday, December 6 Review at Unshelfish Review at Historical Tapestry

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