Release Date: November 12, 2016
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Genre: Contemporary Romance
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.
Sam Moore is an orphan who grew up in the foster system. She's a bookworm who perpetually quotes Austen, Bronte, and other greats when the oppotunity arises. And despite her rather challenging life, Sam managed to keep her head above water by escaping to her writing and favorite novels. Mr. Knightley came into the picture and offered Sam a full scholarship to pursue a Master's Degree in journalism on the condition that she writes to Mr. Knightley on a regular basis, detailing highlights of her life and education pursuits.
I love the letter/journal style of narration of DEAR MR. KNIGHTLEY. The anonymity that Mr. Knightley provided allowed Sam to bare her soul, thoughts and emotions to this dude which gave me a good grasp of Sam as a character. That said, there are a few things that I felt inconsistent with Sam, as a foster child who allegedly struggled a lot, she came across entitled and at times even bratty. I was looking for that grit that is attached to her character, that sense of surviving with the leanest of means in the pursuit of something greater and better for herself. Instead Sam is easily discouraged and would often adapt a defeatist attitude which annoyed me a little bit. I guess Sam is like Emma in some sense in that she's "still maturing" at this point despite living a much harder life than some of her contemporaries.
KReay followed the formula of Emma loosely by adding characters that represent Emma's iconic cast into the mix. In this sense, I enjoyed being part of Sam Moore's life, she hasa a great circle of people around that challenged, motivated, inspired, cared, and even mentored her to realize her potential as a journalist and grow dramatically as a person. The romantic aspect is also sweet, wholesome, and cute. It didn't give me the feels while it's all happening, but when everything is revealed, it gave everything a whole new meaning.
DEAR MR. KNIGHTLEY is a feel-good entertaining read that sort of echoes Emma in it. Though the premise and some of the backstories are sad, tragic even, it's the resilience and triumph of the human spirit that is the story's main theme. KReay kept the tone of the book light and entertaining which makes this one a great beach or vacation read (I sure did!).
P.S. Don't forget to enter the print giveaway where you can win this and two other titles by Katherine Reay in print.