Kayte Nunn’s ‘The Forgotten Letters of Esther Durrant’ is an Uplifting yet Heartbreaking American Debut [REVIEW]

Letter and pearls

Love never dies when it is expressed in a letter. (Photo courtesy Canva)

A committed woman. A young scientist. Discover the trove of letters that binds them together across the chasm of time that separates them in Kayte Nunn’s intriguing new novel, The Forgotten Letters of Esther Durrant.


William Morrow

Back in 1951, John takes his wife, Esther Durrant, on holiday only to commit her to an asylum on a remote island and separate her from her little boy, Teddy. Initially terrified of what lays in store for her, her despair turns to hope when she meets Richard Creswell, the pioneering psychiatrist who runs the hospital, as well as the other patients she meets there.

Fast forward to 2018 when an adventurous and independent young Aussie scientist named Rachel Parker sets off to the Isles of Scilly, off the Cornish coast. When a violent storm blows in to disturb her marine research, she seeks shelter on a remote island where she meets a reclusive woman named Leah who takes her in. It is here that she discovers Esther’s letters from so long ago. As she reads through them, she is captivated and moved by their tenderness, and she becomes determined to get them to their intended recipient.

Finally there’s Eve, helping her grandmother in the wake of an injury write her memoirs in London. Although she loves her Grams, helping an old woman convalesce isn’t what she saw herself doing, but she is having fun learning about the courageous life Gram led as a mountaineer. Yet when Rachel contacts her, it sets in motion a chain of events that threatens to uncover secrets buried for more than 60 years.

The Forgotten Letters of Esther Durrant is a stunning American debut that immediately immerses us in both its modern and historical narratives, both of which are written with grace and affection as well as traces of mystery. Nunn does a wonderful job capturing the sense of place too, transporting us to the islands where the secrets were buried for so long, and where we really get to know our leading ladies, but also the brilliant and tenderhearted physician who helps Esther along the way.

The characters prove both fascinating and touching, and they uplift us despite their personal struggles and the tragedy of their situation. The novel also addresses difficult topics like postpartum depression and PTSD among wounded soldiers, shedding light on these issues with careful, thorough research, although it never gets bogged down in these matters either, and the story hums along at an engaging pace. This is the kind of debut which makes a career, one which moves us to tears even as it lifts us up. Remember the name Kayte Nunn. She’s an author to watch!

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Kayte Nunn

Kayte Nunn
(Photo by Jane Earle)


Kayte Nunn is a former magazine and book editor, and the international bestselling author of four novels, among them The Botanist’s Daughter and The Forgotten Letters of Esther Durrant. Originally from Britain, she has also lived in the USA, and now resides in Australia, in Northern New South Wales, with her family.

Find out more about Kayte at her website, and connect with her on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

By Kayte Nunn
400 pp. William Morrow. $16.99

TLC Book Tours Tour HostPurchase The Forgotten Letters of Esther Durrant at one of these fine online retailers: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, Half Price Books, HarperCollins, IndieBound, and Powell’s.

The Forgotten Letters of Esther Durrant is brought to you in association with TLC Book Tours.

About Jathan Fink
Jathan is a journalist, philanthropist, and entrepreneur. He is also a travel junkie, foodie and jazz aficionado. A California native, he resides in Texas.

3 Responses to Kayte Nunn’s ‘The Forgotten Letters of Esther Durrant’ is an Uplifting yet Heartbreaking American Debut [REVIEW]

  1. Sara Strand says:

    I’m excited to read this one myself, hopefully it gets here soon to get me through this quarantine! Thank you for being on this tour. Sara @ TLC Book Tours

  2. Pingback: Kayte Nunn, author of The Forgotten Letters of Esther Durrant, on tour March 2020 | TLC Book Tours

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