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A Gift from God is very much the theme of an “Unplanned Encounter: Two Lives Forever Changed” as it tells the amazing story of one woman’s bravery and determination to deal with a situation imposed upon her by a man who instantly disappears. At times sad but with a very happy ending. It is set in Britain, beginning 1943, during the Second World War. Mary Louise, the 20-year-old girl at the heart of the story, struggles to keep her illegitimate baby and support him despite objections from her family. Jock is the father who stays away to live a separate married life.
Despite generous reviews the book’s literary content reflects my abilities at the time I retired. Probably the Kirkus review most accurately captures its strengths and weaknesses. I must stress that the essence of the story is fictional. While based on true events, much has been added as a result of research and conjecture. Additionally I have trusted as accurate what was told to me. Those that might dispute the correctness of what I heard are no longer here to defend their recollections. Hence, please read the novel as an account of a wonderful woman driven by love and wisdom, and do not try to distinguish between truth and fiction.
The pseudonym used was essentially the name given to me on birth.
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BEHIND THE BOOK
The initiative for writing “An Unplanned Encounter: Two Lives Forever Changed” originated out of a discussion I had with my mother in December 2007. At that time she was aged 84. It was the last time I saw her alive. After many years of silence she decided to tell me how I had been conceived in 1943 and why the events of my childhood were as I could remember them. She talked of the sexual assault that began my life. In her words “Today it would be called rape. I never dated him. He was the lodger who lived with my parents……”. He was a civil engineer responsible for the construction and of a nearby bomber airfield that was needed to bomb Nazi-occupied Europe in preparation for D-Day. Thus he was considered by the community as a man of significance. Whether what I was told was accurate or not, I will never know.
I have combined the content of my conversation with a written account prepared by mother covering her first fifty-five years of life. For much of her adolescence and early adulthood she kept a diary. For a year after the conversation there was little I could do to validate her explanation. She continued to be embarrassed and ashamed of what had happened.
Following her death, curiosity got the better of me. I tried to discover the status of my father and that of his family. I finally tracked down my half sister and met her for the first time in May 2010. I discovered that my father died almost forty years earlier and he also had been haunted by that wartime event, and experienced a very complex post-war livelihood. Her recollections of her father feature behind the narrative in my novel. I must confess some of what I heard differed from my mother’s story, reinforcing the need for me to emphasize fiction over fact.
I hope you will read what I have written. It is an usual feeling to suddenly discover the nature of your birth.
WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING
Early Endorsements for An Unplanned Encounter
“A really moving and engrossing story. I didn’t want to put the book down. The World War II background, while set in England, brought back memories of my childhood growing up in California.”
–Dr Doris Jansen, Writer and Photographer, Novato, California.
“Plan to “encounter” this book. The characters live with you long after the last page is turned, leaving you looking forward to Jonathan Husband’s second novel.”
–Donna F. Bookin, J.D., Assistant Professor, School of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Mercy College, New York.
“As one who has lived in both England and Northern California, I found the descriptions of wartime Yorkshire and hippie San Francisco particularly compelling. From a medical perspective, the unregulated use of insulin with its predictable complications and the lack of paternity testing illustrate how far medical practice has advanced in recent years. A recommended read.”
–William Mentzer, MD, Professor Emeritus Pediatrics, School of Medicine, UC San Francisco.