Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Debut Review: Dear Mr. Knightley

Dear Mr. KnightleyAuthor: Katherine Reay
Publication Date: November 5, 2013
Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Dear Mr. Knightley is a contemporary epistolary novel with a delightful dash of Jane Austen.

Samantha Moore survived years of darkness in the foster care system by hiding behind her favorite characters in literature, even adopting their very words. Her fictional friends give her an identity, albeit a borrowed one. But most importantly, they protect her from revealing her true self and encountering more pain.

After college, Samantha receives an extraordinary opportunity. The anonymous “Mr. Knightley” offers her a full scholarship to earn her graduate degree at the prestigious Medill School of Journalism. The sole condition is that Sam write to Mr. Knightley regularly to keep him apprised of her progress.

As Sam’s true identity begins to reveal itself through her letters, her heart begins to soften to those around her—a damaged teenager and fellow inhabitant of Grace House, her classmates at Medill, and, most powerfully, successful novelist Alex Powell. But just as Sam finally begins to trust, she learns that Alex has secrets of his own—secrets that, for better or for worse, make it impossible for Sam to hide behind either her characters or her letters.

So at eighteen Cara and I moved out of Grace House together to chase the dream: college, jobs, our own place, no social workers, no tracking…I worked out the budget; Cara found the apartment and a third roommate, some girl I’d never met, Jocelyn. I knew the moment I stepped from her car that I’d made a mistake.

“The day we forget the horror, Sam, we will repeat it. Never forget your past. It will make you less human, less than human.”

Well, Mr. Knightley, here ends my chance with you. It’s time to mail this. I’m glad you don’t have a real name and this isn’t a real friendship, because I would just mess it up. Clearly my comfort zone doesn’t stretch far, because I’ve enjoyed these letters more than anything, and I will never know you or the color of your eyes.

Each and every moment things change.

I did not want to write this review because that would mean that I am finished with the book. I never wanted this book to end! I am, and always have been, in love with all things Jane Austen. So of course I was thrilled when I heard that yet another book was coming out with a main character obsessed with all things Austen – I jumped right on Goodreads and added this title to my list. With a story written in the form of letters, Reay sweeps readers off their feet by giving them a story about finding a place to belong in a sometimes messed up world. Katherine Reay has made it to the top of my bookshelf, and I cannot wait to see what she will create for us next!

Samantha Moore has lived in foster care all of her life and in between foster homes she lived at a place called Grace House. There she was under the guidance and direction of Father John, a man that she feels thoroughly indebted to in her present adult life. Samantha has recently been offered an amazing opportunity; a stranger, that calls himself Mr. Knightley, has offered to pay for Samantha’s entire tuition as she goes through Medill School of Journalism under one condition: she must write him letters filling him in on her time spent there and her life as it changes. Samantha thinks this is absurd at first, but reflecting over her past life she feels that this is a wonderful opportunity and cannot pass it up.

The letters that Samantha writes are enough to keep you hooked and holding on until the end of the book. At first I thought that I was not going to enjoy an entire book of letters about someone’s life, but Samantha Moore (aka Katherine Reay) has a strong voice that kept me engaged and enlightened. She is simply relaying the details of her everyday life to this man known as Mr. Knightley, and it is absolutely fascinating. Samantha meets new people and goes through ups and downs on her journey through grad school. Her story is sad at times, but I felt that Samantha was developed wonderfully as a character through each and every letter she writes.

The end of this book was amazing! I do not want to go too deep into this, but I just want readers to know that this story is 100% spectacular all the way through. This was one of those books that made me dread the last page. I absolutely cannot wait for more from Katherine Reay.

***A copy of this book was provided to me by the publishers at Thomas Nelson in exchange for my honest review***


  1. *High Five*

    Loved this one also. So good and now I cannot wait for Katherine's next novel. :)

  2. Ah, I'm SO glad you liked it! There's a copy of this book in the mail for me to review and I'm eagerly waiting for it to arrive so I can read it! I love Jane Austen as well, so I just knew I had to read this one. After reading your review, I'm absolutely dying for the chance to read it myself! Great review :)

    -Jessica (Peace Love Books)

  3. Chelsey, Thank you so much for such a lovely review. I'm absolutely delighted that you enjoyed Sam's journey -- it certainly wasn't always easy for either character or writer. I sometimes worried I was putting her through the wringer too much -- but am thrilled she came out well on the other end. Thanks! KBR