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 10 bestselling author, Kayte Nunn
1951. In the shadow of the Second World War, 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.
'A sensitive, atmospheric and often heartbreaking story told with real mastery' WHO Weekly
'The characters are all vivid and interesting, and there's a dash of romance and a splash of intrigue. A really enjoyable read' KATE FORSYTH
'Vivid descriptions highlight intertwining plot lines that seamlessly build to a satisfying climax. For fans of Kate Morton' Library Journal
Praise for the bestselling THE BOTANIST'S DAUGHTER:
'Two incredibly likeable, headstrong heroines . . . watching them flourish is captivating. With these dynamic women at the helm, Kayte weaves a clever tale of plant treachery involving exotic and perilous encounters in Chile, plus lashings of gentle romance. Compelling storytelling' The Australian Women's Weekly
A deliciously immersive dual narrative ... Nunn does a brilliant job of building endearing characters and bringing their worlds to life with carefully chosen descriptive prose. Make sure you have a free weekend when you start this one - Daily Telegraph
Full of rich detail and emotions, this is an engrossing read which has all the elements we love: tragedy, mystery and romance - New Idea
The Lost Letters of Esther Durrant is a dual timeline novel set in both 1951 & 2017. The book starts in 1951 with Esther's husband taking her on a supposed holiday to the Scilly Islands, I was horrified at the turn of events when it turns out he is committing her to an asylum. I had to put the book down I was that disturbed that a husband could have the power to do something so underhanded. I felt Esther's shock and disbelief in what was happening to her. In 2017 we have two separate stories, the first being Rachel, a marine scientist who gets a job on one of the Scilly islands and when an accident occurs she comes across some letters from 1952 addressed, but never sent to Esther. Rachel is very curious and touched by the letters and decides to try track down Esther and find out who wrote the letters. We also meet Esther and her granddaughter Eve, Esther is telling Eve her life story for and autobiography of her life that they are writing. The novel switches between the three storylines as we slowly uncover what happened to Esther on the island and learn the secrets she has been keeping for over 60 years. Rachel was a tough character, afraid of getting close to people she flits from place to place, I found her interference with one of the characters in the story's life to be wrong, even though she was coming from a place she thought was right. I really liked Jonah, one of the men living one the island that Rachel moves to, I found him such a warm and thoughtful guy and loved the way he pushed Rachel to think about her life and what she was doing with it. There are many secrets uncovered in this novel and a few twists that I wasn't expecting. I loved how Esther became a mountaineer, which back in the 50's would have been nearly unheard of for a wife and mother. After all Esther had been through, she led an interesting life. The ability of a husband to commit his wife still leaves me cold, no matter what the reasons for him doing it, I can't get over this fact, no discussion, nothing, Esther's power and choices were completely taken away from her at this time. Thank goodness this is one thing that has changed since then. This was a highly enjoyable story.
Claire Louisa Holderness
Kayte Nunn is a former book and magazine editor, and the author of six previous novels, including the international bestselling The Botanist's Daughter, The Forgotten Letters of Esther Durrant, The Silk House and The Last Reunion. The Botanist's Daughter was the 2020 winner of the Winston Graham Historical Fiction Prize. Kayte lives in the Northern Rivers region of New South Wales. You can find Kayte at kaytenunn.com