As I was browsing on the internet yesterday looking for some more books to read (like I don’t already have enough on my “to-read” list), I came across Katherine Reay’s Dear Mr. Knightley. I vaguely remembered hearing about the book through NetGalley but I don’t believe I was able to get a copy of it ahead of time. It’s been out for a while now and I’ve pretty much heard only great things about it. Since I love all of Jane Austen’s books, I was intrigued and wanted to read this book. I noticed on Amazon that I could get a copy of the book for FREE by signing up for their Kindle Romance newsletter ($9.99 value) so I said to myself, “Why not?” Haha. I decided to start reading last night and basically, I couldn’t put it down. I stayed up all night, but I had to know what happened at the end. So here’s my review…
Samantha (aka Sam) Moore grew up in the foster care system after being abandoned by her parents outside a post office. Constantly switching from the group home, Grace House, to multiple foster families, she grew up trying to escape the harsh realities of her life through reading, through her books. Her favorites, of course, were her classic romances, but Father John of Grace House also introduced her to mysteries. She is incredibly well read and intelligent. Through a grant, she has the opportunity to attend the prestigious journalism graduate program at Northwestern University; however, she must write letters to her anonymous benefactor going under the pseudonym, Mr. G. Knightley. She was fired from her last job after being told she wasn’t able to connect with her colleagues – as a foster child, she had gotten that same comment when she failed to connect with her foster family. Through her letters to Mr. Knightley, Sam is able to bear her heart and discover the strength to overcome her fears of letting people in. Her professor challenges her to write from a more personal point of view since she seems so distant, even in her writing. When she’s in defense mode, she starts quoting lines from her favorite classics (mostly Austen) and envisioning herself as the different heroines (or heroes); she hides behind her beloved literary characters without exposing who she is. Sam must learn who she is and who she can trust to let inside her life. She meets some amazing characters challenge her views on life – who give her hope while scaring her to death. Ashley, a fellow graduate student, becomes her best friend and potential Emma. Josh, her new boyfriend, is one she believes is her Colonel Brandon. Retired Professor Muir and his wife take her in as their own daughter, having never had children of their own. Kyle, a fellow foster kid, becomes her running partner and the one who gets her to open up and write about her true feelings. Alex, the famous mystery author, becomes a friend and confidante. Mr. G. Knightley, the anonymous donor, becomes one of Sam’s dearest friends. Will Sam succeed in opening her heart? Can she find a way to write in a more personal way? Can she find a way to trust when she’s been hurt all her life? Can she find the One who heals and makes whole?
Seriously, I loved this book. Sam is full of amazing quotes from some of my personal favorite classics. She expertly has quotes for every situation, every retort. She is brilliant but also uses those quotes to distance herself from those who would be her friends. As the reader, I’m brought into her world from the first person point of view. At first her letters were a little hard to get into, but I found the groove and couldn’t stop reading. I guessed the ending before I was halfway through but I had to read to the end to see if I was right. For being Katherine Reay’s first novel, it’s beautiful. I loved every second. The characters were flawed and so real. I definitely cried a few different times. My heart went out to Kyle and his struggles. I got so caught up in Sam’s world I didn’t want the book to end. The religious thread is subtle, in my opinion, and I don’t think it would offend anyone; however, the thread is beautifully woven throughout the story.
I would recommend this book to anyone who loves the classic romances. You won’t be disappointed. Rating: 5/5.
Here’s the book trailer for the book: