On Saturday we had an invitation to attend the launch of historical novelist Deborah Swift’s latest book, written under her pen name of Davina Blake. Called ‘Past Encounters’, it’s partly set during the filming of the famous film Brief Encounter at Carnforth Station. So where better to hold the launch party than… the Carnforth Railway Heritage Centre, based at Carnforth Station!
Deborah has done simply heaps of research for the novel, not only about Brief Encounter and its making, but also about a little-known march across Europe by Allied prisoners of war towards the end of World War Two, which reminded me of the background to Noel Coward’s great book ‘A Town Like Alice’, only with men instead of women. Deborah read from a scene where the hero struggles to march with a broken ankle, knowing that if he stops he’ll be killed, which was vivid and surprisingly harrowing. If this is what the rest of the book is like then it’s quite a change from the action packed seventeenth century romps Deborah usually writes, but no less enjoyable for that.
The get-together was great fun, with two readings from the book by Deborah herself, a chance to wander round the Heritage Centre – and a free cream tea in the refurbished Refreshment Room afterwards. An all-too-brief encounter, perhaps, but a very refreshing event.