New Book – Past Encounters by Davina Blake

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This new book starts in 1955.

Rhoda is married to Peter, but we have the impression that their marriage is not a happy one. Then Rhoda becomes suspicious when one day Peter puts his fist through the glass in their door. He says it has been an accident, but she sees he is holding a letter. Rhoda wants to know what the letter is; she knows that her husband gets regular letters, but he always tells her they are from a teacher asking for advice. Peter is a headmaster, so Rhoda has never had any reasons to doubt his word. This time he wants to know, so before he has the chance to get the next letter, she hides it, and when she reads it, someone called Helen from Lancaster is thanking Peter for the flowers he sent and they can meet at the usual time.

Rhoda thinks her husband is cheating on her, but before confronting him, she wants to know for sure. So she goes to the address in the letter and knocks at the door. A woman answers who confirms that she is Helen. Yet, Rhoda is surprised and shocked when she talks to the woman. Apparently, Peter and her late husband Archie were together in a prison camp during the war and became very good friends. For years Peter has visited Archie, and Peter excused Rhoda’s absence for some reason or other, and Archie and Helen thought that Rhoda was just a snob who didn’t want to socialize with them. When Archie died of cancer recently, Peter said Rhoda hadn’t come because she was in bed with the flu. Rhoda realizes that Archie’s death was the reason why Peter put the fist through the door weeks ago. Both Rhoda and Helen are shocked to discover that Peter has never said anything about Archie to Rhoda. Helen is hurt, and Rhoda is just puzzled, not understanding the need of this secrecy.

When she returns home, she doesn’t intend to tell Peter about her visit to Helen. Instead, she finds the box where Peter had his memories from the war, and she only finds her letters, and she also retrieves the letters she got from him. I think that in those five years Peter was away in war, something happened to Rhoda. She mentions someone called Matthew and also that in her last letters to Peter he was unable to sign them with any endearment. So I imagine that Rhoda fell in love with someone else, but then that man went away or died, and when Peter returned, Rhoda agreed to marry him. I am really curious to know the story of this couple, and the story takes us back to 1939.

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