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June 8, 2016

Liked It: Dear Mr. Knightley by Katherine Reay

Series: Standalone
Format: Paperback
Release Date: November 12, 2016
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Source: Publisher
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. 










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22 comments:

  1. So is this a twist on the classic Emma then? It sounds super interesting!

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  2. I usually don't read retellings or stories loosely based on others like this as I haven't read any of the books they are based on and I feel like I am missing something then. The letter/journal style of writing sounds unique and a fun way to tell the story. I am glad you enjoyed this one. Great review!

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  3. Sounds interesting, glad you enjoyed! :)

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  4. Not gonna lie, Emma is not a favourite Austen novel of mine so I've pretty much stayed away from any retellings. But I'm curious about this in part due to the epistolary method of story telling. I'm a fan of that method.

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  5. I like the style that this book is written in! Sounds like a fun cute read!

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  6. Not my type of book but thanks for the review.

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  7. I also love this format in books so I totally get it! I'm curious to see how it is, the references are so much fun!

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  8. I read this one a while back so it was a nice refresher getting your review. That's interesting about her character. I thought she made it tougher on herself than it really was, but the entitlement might be more true. Insightful review, Braine!

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  9. Sounds fun enough...and sometimes that's perfect for summer.

    Karen @For What It's Worth

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  10. Now I just wonder if she hooks up with Knightley then

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  11. It sounds intriguing and definitely different. I hadn't heard of this one before.

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  12. First time I heard of this one and it sounds pretty good! I'm glad you liked it! :)

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  13. This one has been sitting in my tbr pile (it's more like a mountain these days, lol) and I keep looking at it thinking that I need to read it soon. I think I'll bump it up to the top now.

    Simply Angela

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  14. Sounds like something I would like, thanks!!!

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  15. This sounds like something I would enjoy. Oh and as long as I got my HEA, I'm good and it does make for a good read. I also love Austen retellings. :D

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  16. I've never read Jane Austen. I really know nothing about Emma. Glad you enjoyed this one.

    Melanie @ Hot Listens & Rabid Reads

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  17. I'm not big on the epistolary style - unlike you, I find it pretty difficult to get a sense of the characters... Yes, I'm slow like that, I like things to be made as clear as possible to me :P Otherwise, if not for that bratty & defeatist undercurrent in her personality, I do believe I'd have liked to try this one. But, like you, mewants grit and mental calluses!! :D Fantastic review anyway. Hope you're doing well, lovely <3

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  18. I haven't read Emma, but I have it on my Classics shelf. I think this is something I'd like to read, simply because of the literature mentions, but I'm not sure if I'd like the protagonist.

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  19. Even though it wasn't the best story ever written, I love Austin themed books.

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  20. I understand where you're coming from with how you felt about Sam's character. But I liked your comparison to Emma and how she was still maturing. You're really tempting me with Reay's stories, Braine! :D

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