Monday, April 28, 2014

Book Review: Dear Mr. Knightley

Dear Mr. Knightley
Katherine Reay
Format: Paperback


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.


I first heard about this book when Peace Love Books reviewed it. I have wanted to read it ever since, so when I saw it at the library I grabbed it up right away.

One of my favorite things about the book was the format. The story is told though Sam's letters to Mr. Knightley. I am a total sucker for books that are a collection of letters, diary entries, or emails. I love that it breaks up the normal story telling and tells you what the narrator thinks of the situation.

The book is chalk full of references to classic literature, mainly Jane Austen. While the book reference books I have yet to read (like Jane Eyre) I could still understand what was meant by the reference. I especially loved that even Sam's anonymous benefactor is a reference to Jane Austen. Another thing I loved about the book was the premise of the book. I loved getting to see Sam change as she went through the Journalism program and struggle with the real world. Most of all what I loved about the book was the characters, especially Alex Powell. He is a real down to earth person despite being a best selling author. He genuinely cares about the people in his life including Sam. As he and Sam continue to become friends and sam gets to know him he become more and more perfect. I also loved the other characters in the book including Sam's classmates at Mendill who help to keep her honest and build new friendships outside of her books. Overall I thought this book was a great read. I would recommend it to anyone who loves Jane Austen or books about college life.

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