“All the furnishings are comfortable with a hint of bold. Exactly how I want to be.”
Apparently I have a thing for letters. Two of my all-time favorites (Dracula and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Pie Society) are both written in letters and/or journals. So you can imagine my delight in having the opportunity to read the fabulous debut by Katherine Reay, written in that very same way. Dear Mr. Knightley is hands down one of my favorite books I’ve read this year. I’d give it 6 stars if I could.
If you enjoy contemporary fiction, Jane Austen, creativity, ice cream, hugs, or puppies, you need to read this book. Perhaps a few of those things have nothing to do with this story, but I wanted to make sure everyone was included. I promise you’ll absolutely adore this one.
How do I love Dear Mr. Knightley? Let me count the ways…
1. The cover people. THE COVER.
2. It deals with foster care and adoption, so you’d be right in saying I cried.
3. All the references made me happy.
Samantha Moore has always hidden behind the words of others—namely, her favorite characters in literature. Now, she will learn to write her own story—by giving that story to a complete stranger.
Sam is, to say the least, bookish. An English major of the highest order, her diet has always been Austen, Dickens, and Shakespeare. The problem is, both her prose and conversation tend to be more Elizabeth Bennet than Samantha Moore.
But life for the twenty-three-year-old orphan is about to get stranger than fiction. An anonymous, Dickensian benefactor (calling himself Mr. Knightley) offers to put Sam through Northwestern University’s prestigious Medill School of Journalism. There is only one catch: Sam must write frequent letters to the mysterious donor, detailing her progress.
As Sam’s dark memory mingles with that of eligible novelist Alex Powell, her letters to Mr. Knightley become increasingly confessional. While Alex draws Sam into a world of warmth and literature that feels like it’s straight out of a book, old secrets are drawn to light. And as Sam learns to love and trust Alex and herself, she learns once again how quickly trust can be broken.
Reminding us all that our own true character is not meant to be hidden, Reay’s debut novel follows one young woman’s journey as she sheds her protective persona and embraces the person she was meant to become.
All the references to classical literature, from Great Expectations to Austen to Narnia, could have indeed snobified the novel (you’re welcome for that new word), but Reay uses them with such talent and creativity, you understand Sam and the characters on a deeper level because of them.
What did I love most about this book? Sam’s transformation. Of course you eventually find out who our dear Mr. Knightley is, but that’s not the driving force of the novel or why you keep turning page after page. You keep reading simply because you can’t stop.
(Thank you Litfuse and Thomas Nelson for the advanced readers copy. I received a copy for my honest opinion)
Oh wait! There’s more!!
Debut author Katherine Reay is celebrating the release of her delightful novel, Dear Mr. Knightley, with a Kindle Fire HDX giveaway, a fun Favorite Austen Moments Pinterest contest, and an Austen-themed Facebook Party.