BOOK REVIEW: The Forgotten Letters of Esther Durrant by Kayte Nunn

The Blurb:

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 love a dual timeline novel, and Kayte Nunn’s previous book The Botanist’s Daughter was great. So I was really looking forward to her new book which has the added bonus of a truly gorgeous cover.


The story begins in 1951. Esther Durrant is going on holiday with her husband, but she is too exhausted and dazed with grief to pay much attention to their destination. It’s cold and wintry, and the boat is sailing across rough waters, and she wants to be home with their little boy Teddy. She cannot understand why her husband is so insistent upon taking her to a remote island, so far from home.

Until she arrives, and realises she is being committed to a mental asylum.


What a beginning!


The story moves swiftly and deftly from here, moving between Esther’s story in the ‘50s to the voice of a free-spirited young woman who finds Esther’s forgotten letters while stuck on the same island in modern times.


The characters are all vivid and interesting, and there’s a dash of romance and a splash of intrigue. A really enjoyable read.


You might also like to read my review of Love or Nearest Offer by Adele Geras:

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Kate Forsyth
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