His Last Letter

His Last Letter – (a short story) Davina Blake

Last LetterMarion has not enjoyed Christmas since she was a nurse in France in the First World War. Betty has a guilty secret; a letter she should have sent on to Marion, twenty-one years ago. Now they are in the throes of another war, what will happen when the two women meet? 

I have very mixed emotions regarding this story which are difficult to discuss without revealing plot details; something I hate. I will try my best.

The basis of the story is heartbreaking. Two woman who feel cheated for similar reasons, yet only one will face a very difficult life after WW1.  It is impossible not to feel sympathy for both women,  yet now they are in 1944, I find the slight vindictiveness of Betty unpleasant. If you are going to pass on one or two things, why sent the rest to the dump? (You’ll understand all this if you read the story.)  I understand the pain of having certain emotions resurrected after so long, but that scenario didn’t ring true for me.

Of the two women I liked Marion best. A time when society was more judgemental and more brutal concerning women and particular issues,  I feel she is the one who has suffered most, lost most, but ultimately risen above it. A nurse during the First War, organised, efficient, and sure of herself, she loses that self-assurance as the years pass. A bomb obliterates her street, and Marion slips back into being the one in charge and organising everything, with the help of the vicar with whom she has recently formed a friendship and a possible romantic attachment.
I am fascinated as an historian by the impact the past has one the present. No only in a ‘big picture’ way, but also and more particularly in the personal and more intimate ways, like family and relationships. We have the misery that war brings, as well as the hope and unity it brings too.

Again, this is one that people, who find little time to enjoy reading, can fit into their hectic schedules – a daily commute or lunch break. I highly recommend it.

Last Train Home

Last Train Home – a short story by Davina Blake

Last Train HomeSet in 1945 at the end of WW2, – level-crossing-keeper Maisie Harris can only look forward to a lonely Christmas, stuck in her signal box, as the trains take other people home to their families and friends. This Christmas however, she is in for a surprise.

This is a gentle, heartfelt gem of a story, about a young woman working in a lonely job whilst the men are away at war. She has little chance to find love and seems to believe she won’t, after all, the men returning from war are probably all spoken for, and she is shy.  When a small group of passengers get stranded after their train is stuck in a snow drift, there is no choice but to spend Christmas in Maisie’s cottage. Among this group are two young, single men, free and available; will Maisie find love?

Maisie is a lovely character, and I warmed to her straightaway. The author has conjured up the atmosphere of  the period very well, and painted an exquisite picture of Maisie’s home and the snow-bound winter landscape. Even though this is a short story, she has given the characters enough shade and light to make them real and familiar. Their individual behaviour and interactions with each other and with Maisie, are entertaining and revealing. This may be a short story, but it is packed with all that is needed to engage the reader and fulfill their appetite for a good story.

I highly recommend Last Train Home for everyone., but if you are busy and find it difficult to fit reading into your schedule, then its perfect. Read it on your daily commute, or during your lunch break – stress free reading.  Enjoy.