This particular book had a lot of potential to disappoint me as a reader. I saw the book cover as a sneak peak for Thomas Nelson’s October newsletter and when I saw the title I knew I wanted to read this book. When I read the short description of the book, it had even more potential. And I have to say that this release was very timely with the beginning of Emma Approved, the new online series that started at the beginning of October from the makers of The Lizzie Bennet Diaries. Thankfully, Katherine Reay’s debut novel did not disappoint. In fact, Dear Mr. Knightley exceeded my expectations.
Samantha Moore (Sam) has had a hard life. Raised in the foster care system, she has had some good experiences but many more that weren’t so good. It seems that anytime things start to go right for Sam, her hopes and dreams slip through her fingers and are shattered. When she was young she learned to escape into her beloved books. She often even answers others with quotes from those books. When an anonymous benefactor offers to pay for Sam to go to graduate school to get a degree in journalism, she is hesitant at first to accept the offer. When she does accept, there is one condition that is placed on her. She must write her benefactor, who calls himself Mr. Knightley, and share her progress. While in school, Sam meets Alex Powell, a successful author of action mysteries. Sam is drawn to Alex and enjoys his company. Their shared love of literature helps her feel safe but will Sam ever be able to step out from behind her beloved literary characters and find her own voice, live her own life?
While all but the last chapter of the book is comprised of the letters Sam writes to her Mr. Knightley, Reay does an amazing job of combining classic literary works, more contemporary novels and pop culture throughout her novel. As Sam finds more comfort in writing Mr. Knightley, she begins to open up more and discover things about herself that hurt but help her grow. While I figured out the identity of the benefactor fairly early, it didn’t detract from the story.
Dear Mr. Knightley gets five out of five stars from me.
****Thomas Nelson Publishing and Booksneeze provided me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. I was not compensated in any way for either a negative or a positive review.