Atmospheric, Deeply Moving: Review of The Forgotten Letters of Esther Durrant by Kayte Nunn

Atmospheric, Deeply Moving: Review of The Forgotten Letters of Esther Durrant by Kayte Nunn

England, November 1951. Although it’s bitterly cold, John Durrant has insisted that a seaside break will be good for his wife Esther, so the pair are making their way to Cornwall. The trip, however, has a much darker purpose—John is committing Esther to a mental hospital. Confined against her will, Esther is shocked that her husband could do this. But as Esther grows closer to her doctors and fellow patients, the hospital becomes something of a refuge…

In 2018, Australian marine scientist Rachel Parker is assigned to study the effects of climate change on clams native to the Isles of Scilly, off the Cornish coast. Rachel doesn’t do attachment and was starting to feel a little trapped on the Cook Islands, the location of her last project, so this new assignment is perfect. She’ll go to the Isles of Scilly, do her work and move on. But then, Rachel stumbles upon a cache of old love letters…

In present-day London, Eve is helping her grandmother, a renowned mountaineer, write her memoirs. Eve has never heard her grandmother talk about her early climbing days before, and she feels like they’re growing closer every day. But when Eve is contacted out of the blue by an Australian woman named Rachel, about a packet of old love letters that she’s found on a remote Cornish island, long buried secrets begin to resurface, and Eve must rethink everything…

From Kayte Nunn, bestselling author of The Botanist’s Daughter, The Forgotten Letters of Esther Durrant is an atmospheric and deeply moving work of historical fiction. The author’s own great-grandmother was admitted to a mental hospital in 1930s Britain with post-natal depression, remaining there until her death many years later, and Nunn’s compassion and outrage shines through in her writing. Esther is drawn with love, and the horror of being forcibly committed to a mental hospital, powerfully illustrated.

Unfolding in two distinct timelines through the eyes of three characters, The Forgotten Letters of Esther Durrant is beautifully paced, each new chapter opening up to reveal more detail and intrigue, until finally, the mystery at the heart of the story is revealed. There’s tragedy and sadness, but also light in the form of the indomitable spirit of the women and the hope and strength that comes with unexpected love. And Nunn’s scene-setting is wonderful – the windswept, rugged beauty of the Isles of Scilly the perfect backdrop.

Kayte Nunn’s writing has its own quiet beauty, the story creeping up on you almost by stealth, making it all the more powerful once it gets you in its clutches. This is a perfect winter read for fans of Kate Morton, Hannah Richell and Mary-Rose MacColl – and for anyone in fact, who loves wrapping themselves around a very well told story.

About the author:

Kayte Nunn is a former book and magazine editor, and the author of two contemporary novels, Rose’s Vintage and Angel’s Share.The Botanist’s Daughter was Kayte’s first novel of transporting historical fiction, followed byThe Forgotten Letters of Esther Durrant, set largely in the atmospheric Isles of Scilly. If you would like to see the wonderful images inspired by the book, Kayte’s Pinterest page is at: pinterest.com.au/kaytenunn/the-forgotten-letters-of-esther-durrant/ or you can find her at kaytenunn.com

Buy a copy of The Forgotten Letters of Esther Durrant here.

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                      Synopsis

                      1951. Esther Durrant, a young mother, is committed to an isolated mental asylum by her husband. Run by a pioneering psychiatrist, the hospital is at first Esther's prison but soon becomes her refuge.2018. Free-spirited marine scientist Rachel Parker embarks on a research posting in the Isles of Scilly, off the Cornish coast. When a violent storm forces her to take shelter on a far-flung island, she discovers a collection of hidden love letters. Captivated by their passion and tenderness, Rachel determines to track down the intended recipient.Meanwhile, in London, Eve is helping her grandmother, a renowned mountaineer, write her memoirs. When she is contacted by Rachel, it sets in motion a chain of events that threatens to reveal secrets kept buried for more than sixty years.The Forgotten Letters of Esther Durrant is a deeply atmospheric, resonant novel that charts the heart's wild places, choices and consequences. If you love Elizabeth Gilbert and Kate Morton you will devour this book.
                      Kayte Nunn
                      About the author

                      Kayte Nunn

                      Kayte Nunn has worked for more than 15 years as a writer and editor in both book and magazine publishing. She blogs about family travel adventures at travelmumma.com and is happiest when planning her next trip.

                      Books by Kayte Nunn

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