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Saturday, June 15, 2019

The Forgotten Letters of Esther Durrant

Title: The Forgotten Letters of Esther Durrant
Author: Kayte Nunn
Publisher: 28th May 2019 by Hachette
Pages: 384 pages
How I Read It: ARC book
Genre: historical fiction
My Rating: 4.5 crowns

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.
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.
My Thoughts

I had no hesitation in highly recommending Kayte’s book last year, ‘The Botanist’s Daughter’ (review HERE) to lovers of historical fiction - it had a real Kate Morton feel to it - and was fabulous! So it was with great anticipation that I embarked on her latest offering,  ‘The Forgotten Letters of Esther Durrant’ and I am happy to report it, likewise, is a wonderful read.

‘I can see that you’re trying to find the light, just as fiercely as you were digging for those clams. But you know the real trick is to contain the darkness.’
She knew he wasn’t talking about photography.
‘You have to make it a place that you can return to, but–and this is the key–one that you can leave,’ he said. ‘Make it a shadow room in your mind if you like. Put all the sadness, the anger, the sheer impotence there. Otherwise it’ll take over your life, poison everything.’

Once again, Kayte gives us a compelling dual time narrative, this time set in the stunning Isles of Scilly and is full of romance and tragedy.  However, it also incorporates much more through the role of women in the 1950s compared to today and sensitively looks into conditions such as PTSD and SIDS. Within this tale I appreciated both female leads - my heart went out to Esther committed to an asylum by her husband after suffering from a loss and Rachel in the present day with her adventures around the world. Add to this mix loads of secrets, lost loves and difficult choices and you have a most compelling read.

Kayte is a talented writer as both stories, especially transition between timelines, being flawless. The locations are richly described and the selection of characters are positive, contributing worthily to the story as a whole. The atmosphere, particularly on the island in the 1950s, literally jumps off the page at you. This is a cleverly written tale that is sure to engage readers of historical fiction.

The Forgotten Letters Of Esther Durrant is a truly beautiful story, as it shines a light on life, love and loss and how, with time, heart and mind can be healed.

‘How do you keep going on?’
‘Beauty?’ she echoed.
‘Even when it seems there is none to be had, you must seek it out. Find a way to dream again, to believe, believe in the beauty of life, however fleeting.’

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The quoted material may have changed in the final release.

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