Dear Mr. Knightley by Katherine Reay

Dear Mr KnightleySynopsis:~

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.

My take:~

Sometimes you are given a gift that everyone assures you will be delightful but you aren’t entirely sure the contents will be too your liking. The wrapping is appealing and the shape looks intriguing but you are still uncertain. You open it up and you are surprised by its unique richness and you wonder why you ever doubted!  That was Katherine Reay’s debut novel for me. I loved the premise, the cover was beautifully fanciful but a book composed entirely of letters? To write such an epistolary novel and pull it off successfully is hard – and a debut novelist? I admit to a little skepticism but I’m thrilled to say Katherine pulled it off beautifully, and then some!

Dear Mr. Knightley captivated me, heart and soul, from beginning to end. The characters are beguiling to a fault ~ Sam’s awkwardness, Kyle’s brokeness, Mrs Muir’s gentleness, Alex’s charm, the Professor’s protectiveness ~ each quickly wove their way into my heart. Katherine is a master of emotive prose, easily evoking my empathy, anger, passion, and eventually tears as Sam discovers that she is precious and worthy of love. There is a cleverness to Katherine’s writing that is deeply refreshing  ~ wry humour, romantic tenderness, and heart shattering honesty pour from these pages, as do wonderful quotes from the classics that readers will delight in discovering. Simply put, I adored this story and am thrilled beyond measure that 2014 will bring me another dose of Katherine’s fabulous talent with Lizzy and Jane. Until then, I will comfort myself with additional readings of Dear Mr. Knightley ~ yes, it is that good!

With thanks to Thomas Nelson and Litfuse for my review copy

Relz Reviewz Extras
Katherine’s Author Alert
Katherine’s Mad Minute
Visit Katherine’s website and blog
Buy Dear Mr Knightley from Amazon or Koorong

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22 Responses to Dear Mr. Knightley by Katherine Reay

  1. I’ve heard a lot about this book. I confess I like epistolary novels, when done well. Have you read The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society? That’s also an epistolary novel. I listened to the audio version, read by a cast of four or five. It’s one of my top all time favorite audio books. I’ve found that voice has to be very strong in these types of novels to hold my attention, in print anyway. A good reader can infuse a lot of voice, but if it’s there already, all the better. I’ll be adding DMK to the TBR pile, just FYI. :)

    • Lori Benton » Can I just whisper to you quietly that I have not read TGLAPPPS, Lori! I feel bad I haven’t got to it yet. I really think DMK will be one you love…let me know!!

  2. I’ve had the ARC for months now and I wish I had time to read it! It looks so good and I love the cover!

  3. yah! this book ROCKS!

  4. Eee!!! Can’t wait to read this one!

  5. I’d been waffling on this one. The cover is captivating, the story sounds intriguing, and I love supporting debut authors. Yet, I’m not a Jane Austen fan (the Brontes are more my style), nor do I typically care for epistolary novels. But you’ve convinced me to give this one a try. Great review.

    • Brenda Anderson » I’m glad, Brenda – waffle no more!! I’m pretty sure you won’t be disappointed. And not all references in the book are Austen ones – you will enjoy discovering the others!

  6. Wow… sounds like another must read. Thanks Rel.

  7. Well said, Rel! This review is spot-on.

    Everything about this novel sparkles with personality, quirkiness, wit, romance and just… everything! As you say, it’s emotional which tugs on our heartstrings and each of the characters are fabulous. In particular I thought Sam was a heroine most of us could relate to in some way. I’m eager to see what comes next from Katherine! :)

  8. Wow, that it is high praise! I have this one on my wish list and your ranking just put it up there a little bit higher. Looking forward to the day I get to read it. :)

  9. Sounds neat and quite a bit like Jean Webster’s Daddy-Long-Legs. Could that have been the inspiration?

  10. I just landed back in Seattle and at my computer, so I thought I’d visit you again, Rel — always nice to touch base :)

    Thank you all so much for interest in the book. Yes, DDL was an inspiration as was Austen, the Brontes (mostly Charlotte), Dickens, Dumas, Lewis … and tons of others. It’s a book lovers book — and certainly reveals most of the literature I like best. Now when my next novel takes place in Middle Earth, you’ll discover a lot more about my literary tastes…

    Just kidding — LIZZY AND JANE (story #2) takes place today in Seattle. No Middle Earth travels yet.

    Thank you all again! … KBR

  11. The more important question — why can’t I get a picture to load so I don’t so anonymous here?
    Not really, that’s not more important — just annoying.

    No, Lizzy and Jane will not be epistolary. As much as it worked for DMK, it is a difficult format as readers don’t always enjoy it. It worked for DMK and I may return to it someday — I loved it. But Lizzy and Jane will be told in 1st person from Lizzy’s perspective — unless I decide we need a different lens. Anything can happen in edits, right?

    Thanks for asking!

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