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March 12, 2020

The Forgotten Letters of Esther Durrant by Kayte Nunn ~ a Review

by Susan Roberts

"Esther was dumbfounded.  He'd left her there.  She'd heard of husbands committing their wives to insane asylums - for she under no illusion now, that this was what this godforsaken place must surely be - but had never imagined John would do such a thing to her, despite everything that had happened." (Esther - p 54)

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March 2020;  William Morrow; 978-0062970589
audio, ebook, print (400 pages); historical fiction
The Forgotten Letters of Esther Durrant, a beautifully written historical novel, has characters that will endear themselves to you as soon as you meet them. It's told in two distinctive time periods, in three locations with 4 main characters.  It isn't difficult to keep the characters and time periods separate and by doing it this way, the reader is able to not only see a life event but also to see the repercussions of that event years later.

In 1951, Esther Durrant's husband told her that they were going on vacation.  They traveled from London to a remote island in SW England.  When she wakes up the second day, she finds out that her husband has left and that she is in an insane asylum.  She knew that she had not been herself since a catastrophic event in her family but was livid that her husband would commit her.  What starts out as a prison, becomes her solace where she begins to understand herself.

In 2018, Rachel takes a job as a marine scientist on an island in SW England.  She is a free spirit and never keeps a job more than 2 years before she moves on to another job.  When she is stranded on a remote island in a bad storm, the lone inhabitant takes her in and helps her recover.  While there, she finds several love letters written in 1951 that were never mailed.  Rachel decides to find the person that the letters were addressed to and give her the letters that were never mailed.

In 2018 in London, Eve is helping her elderly grandmother write her memoir.  Her grandmother was a world-renowned mountain climber and had a lot of history to share with her granddaughter.  When Rachel contacted them with the letters that she found, much of her grandmother's early life came to light.

The Forgotten Letters of Esther Durrant is a book about family and love across the years.  It touches on some difficult subjects - mental illness, depression, aging, and infidelity.  I found it especially interesting that a husband could still commit his wife to an insane asylum without her permission in the mid-1950s.  Sometimes in a dual narrative, some characters have a more interesting story than the others.  In this novel, I thought that all of the characters had an interesting story.  There is a bit of a mystery here and a bit of romance but overall it's a well-written, character novel that I really enjoyed.

Buy The Forgotten Letters of Esther Durrant at Amazon

Also available at HarperCollins | Barnes & Noble

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Susan Roberts lives in North Carolina when she isn't traveling. She and her husband enjoy traveling, gardening and spending time with their family and friends. She reads almost anything (and the piles of books in her house prove that) but her favorite genres are Southern fiction, women's fiction, and thrillers. Susan is a top 1% Goodreads Reviewer. You can connect with Susan on FacebookGoodreads, or Twitter.

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  1. This sounds amazing! Thank you for being on this tour! Sara @ TLC Book Tours