Book review The Forgotten Letters of Esther Durrant by Kayte Nunn
Bianca B,  Books,  Fiction,  Historical Fiction

The Forgotten Letters of Esther Durrant by Kayte Nunn

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Published: 3/3/2020
A cache of unsent love letters from the 1950s is found in a suitcase on a remote island in this mysterious love story in the tradition of the novels by Kate Morton and Elizabeth Gilbert . 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 surprisingly becomes her refuge. 2018. Free-spirited marine scientist Rachel Parker…

Special thanks to TLC Book Tours & William Morrow for providing our copy of The Forgotten Letters of Esther Durrant by Kayte Nunn in exchange for an honest & fair review.

The Forgotten Letters of Esther Durrant by Kayte Nunn

It’s 1951, and Esther Durrant is a young mother whose husband committed to her to a mental asylum. At  first, she feels stranded, but soon finds she’s stronger than she ever knew.

Fast forward to 2018, and Rachel Parker is a marine scientist beginning a new adventure off the Cornish coast. When she comes across a collection of old love letters, she must reconcile her own feelings with the desire to find the author of such passionate words.

In isolation

Esther Durrant is in a fog. She’s going through the motions of life without really wanting to feel it. So, her husband’s insistence on taking her to a remote island in the Isles of Scilly, seems confounding to Esther. The ruse is up, when she awakes the next morning alone in a room, wearing a straight jacket.

What first feels like abandonment and isolation, slowly changes. The other patients are all men who served in World War II, most of whom are suffering PTSD. The psychiatrist’s unconventional treatment methods include spending time outdoors, gardening or wandering the coastline. Soon, these men are her community, her friends, her confidants. But will she recover from the trauma that brought her to this asylum?

Running from something

An Australian researcher, Rachel Parker has been studying clams in the tropics for several years and is ready for her next adventure. So, when a position on a remote island off the coast of England opens up, she jumps at the chance for a change of scenery.

Eager to get started, Rachel forgets to check the weather report before setting out in the boat one afternoon. A sudden storm finds her shipwrecked on an island with one resident – a reclusive artist. Taking refuge while the storm wages, Rachel discovers love letters from decades ago that were never sent.

Reading these letters, she’s struck with the realization that true love does exist – and she’s been hiding from it. Embarking on a journey to reunite the letters with their rightful owner, Rachel risks her own self-discovery. She’s determined to track down the recipient. But is it too late? Is she opening up old wounds?

THE VERDICT

I am really into this book! The Forgotten Letters of Esther Durrant by Kayte Nunn deftly weaves past and present to bring this story to life. The poignancy of a woman suffering from postpartum depression in the 1950s being committed to an asylum is both shocking and filled with raw emotion. She captures the simplicity of true love, and gives us hope that one day we’ll conquer our own fears and insecurities.

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About Kayte Nunn

Kayte Nunn grew up in England and the US, and then lived in Sydney, Australia for more than 20 years, working as a book, magazine and web editor and writer. I’ve more than two decades of publishing experience and am the former editor of Gourmet Traveller WINE magazine.

She is the author of Rose’s Vintage (2016), and Angel’s Share (2017), both set in the lush vineyards of the imaginary Australian Shingle Valley. The Botanist’s Daughter is set in Cornwall, Chile and Sydney, and was a top ten bestseller when it was published in Australia in July 2018.

Kayte now lives in the Northern Rivers of NSW and am also a mother to two girls. When not writing, reading or ferrying them around sh can be found in the kitchen, procrasti-baking – loving nothing more than a generous slice of warm cake, a cup of tea, a comfortable place to sit and a good book to read!

Follow Kayte on Twitter and Facebook.

 

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