Published by William Morrow on March 3, 2020
Source: the publisher
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A cache of unsent love letters from the 1950s is found in a suitcase on a remote island in this mysterious love story in the tradition of the novels by Kate Morton and Elizabeth Gilbert.
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 surprisingly 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. But she has no idea of the far-reaching consequences her decision will bring.
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.
With an arresting dual narrative that immediately captivates the reader, The Forgotten Letters of Esther Durrant is an inspirational story of the sacrifices made for love.
I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
It is crazy to me to think that not long ago, husbands were allowed to commit their wives for mental issues. This is the story of Esther Durrant, who leaves home with her husband thinking they’re going on vacation only to find that he is leaving her at a private and isolated treatment facility for mental issues because he thinks she needs it.
1951: Esther Durrant is left at a small facility with a few other gentleman residents. These are men that have served in the military and have issues that require treatment related to their service. The men and the doctor there are kind to her, but she still is angry at her husband for deceiving her. She is left there for a pre-determined time and it is left to the discretion of the doctor as to whether or not her treatment has been successful. If so, she will be allowed to return home. Esther misses her young son terribly but at the same time, she grows to enjoy life on the isolated island where the treatment facility is located. She befriends the other residents and the doctor
2018: Eve has put her life on hold in order to take care of her grandmother, who was injured after a fall. Her grandmother has had an adventurous life and Eve is helping her write a memoir. Rachel is a marine scientist who is working on a research assignment. When she ends up crashing her boat on a small, isolated island, she finds some wonderful love letters that were written back in the 1950’s, but it looks like they were never mailed. Rachel wants to use her investigative skills to track down the intended recipient of the letters.
The three POV’s blend together well and I felt invested in the story and how things would end. I was surprised to find out who wrote the love letters and I was curious about what Rachel would uncover when she began her search for the people connected to the letter. I enjoyed all three POV’s, but I have to say that I was most captivated by Esther’s story. I connected to her feelings about motherhood and the child she was separated from, and I also felt her anger and confusion at her husband for leaving her in that place like he did. I also felt deeply for the other residents, and their stories resonated with me. It’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy the story that Eve and Rachel told, but I really felt swept away by the story that took place during Esther’s time on the island during the 1950’s.
I think that people that enjoy dual-timeline historical fiction stories will enjoy this one. There is a little bit of mystery involving the letters, which was fun for me, and there is also a little bit of romance.