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 an 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 on 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.
Thanks to NetGalley and Hachette Australia for a digital copy of this book in return for an honest review.