The Forgotten Letters of Esther Durrant – Kayte Nunn


A cache of unsent love letters from the 1950s is found in a suitcase on a remote island in this mysterious love story by top ten bestselling author, Kayte Nunn

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.

2017. 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.

Thank you to @hachetteaus for hosting this giveaway and sending me this novel.

My review

This was the perfect winter read, as I snuggled up under a blanket and read this delightful novel on the first day of the cold season. The Scilly Isles was the perfect setting, as I imagined the island with it’s beautiful beach, wild flowers and gardens surrounding the residence. As I curled up with this novel it was raining outside, yet Kayte Nunn managed to transport me to the sunshine and wild mountain terrain in an instant.

The novel follows three strong women. Eve helps her grandmother after she has a fall, moving in with her and assisting her to write her autobiography. Her grandmother was a famous mountaineer in her day and hopes to share her adventures with future readers.

Rachel’s work as a marine scientist takes her to the Scilly Isles where she finds love letters that are the essence of what true love is. Rachel’s character matures as the novel progresses and she enjoys the company of those on the island, from Leah the island hermit to Jonah who welcomes her. Leah has her own secrets and must discover herself, just as Rachel. They help each other in the process.

My absolute favourite character is the protagonist, Esther Durrant. Her story is one of great historical significance. Esther’s husband sends her to an isolated island where she is to be treated for depression. It is heartbreaking as she is away from her young son, Teddy.

It is 1951 where people are treated for mental health via shock treatment and locked away. Dr Richard Creswell’s methods are beyond that of his time. His treatment is wholistic. It includes counselling sessions, treatment of mind and body, whilst taking time to concentrate on self care. The location allows patients to enjoy the outdoors and nature. Esther is fortunate to have been sent to such a place in comparison to the alternative, although she doesn’t feel it at the time. The people she meets on the island will change her life forever. They help each other in many ways, especially as they share their thoughts and feelings. Wilkie shares some important life lessons; ‘Find a way to dream again, to believe, believe in the beauty of life, however fleeting.’

Esther’s loss of her second child is devastating and her grief is raw. Kayte Nunn’s portrayal of a character with post-natal depression is subtle, delicate and is to be commended. This novel emphasises the feelings of inadequacy as a mother struggles to bond with her child in the early stages of their life. This novel brings about awareness to such a sad and truly unimagineable time in some women’s lives. The importance of talking to a trusted professional is also emphasised. Women should not have to face these challenges alone. Within my community, I felt that there is an endless amount of support for women post natally. I hope that all women around the world will oneday have the help they deserve.

The romance in this novel is honest, sweet and realistic based on the time period.

This book is a romance, historical fiction novel that I would highly recommend. It is breathtakingly beautiful. I look forward to reading more of Kayte Nunn’s novels.


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