Book Review: Dear Mr. Knightley

18 Nov

689680Samantha 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.

KReay-185.pngKatherine Reay has enjoyed a life-long affair with the works of Jane Austen and her contemporaries. After earning degrees in history and marketing from Northwestern University, she worked as a marketer for Proctor & Gamble and Sears before returning to school to earn her MTS. Her works have been published in Focus on the Family and the Upper Room. Katherine currently lives with her husband and three children in Seattle. Dear Mr. Knightley is her first novel.

My Impressions:

In 2009 St. Martin’s Press coined the term New Adult as an emerging genre in the publishing business. Focused on protagonists in the 18 – 25 age range, the genre is naturally targeted for readers of the same age. Katherine Reay’s debut novel, Dear Mr. Knightley, certainly qualifies as a New Adult novel, but this 50-something reader was drawn into the life and times of Samantha Moore, a young woman in desperate need of identity and purpose. This is a novel that will appeal to younger women readers, but definitely crosses the generational divide in its style and subject matter. Who out there has never struggled with finding the real person within?

Samantha Sam Moore thinks she is adept at hiding — from her past, relationships and herself. Having retreated into her beloved books for years, she finds herself without a true identity and a life without direction or purpose. Faced with no job and no home, Samantha finds herself back at the group home she sought to escape. When a mysterious offer of graduate school is made, Samantha grasps the lifeline, but her hold on it is tenuous at best. Full tuition and living expenses for the prestigious journalism school come with a cost — stretching herself far beyond the walls she has carefully erected. She must also write letters to her benefactor, a man known only as Mr. Knightley. It is within these letters that Samantha reveals and claims her true self.

There is a lot to like about Dear Mr. Knightley. If you are an Austen or Bronte fan, you will be pleased with the many references to their works. But this novel is not a rewrite of a beloved classic. Told through letters, Dear Mr. Knightley is like a coming of age novel. Samantha is forced to confront her demons and to start living without the crutch of her literary friends. The growth of Samantha’s character is touching and tough, but will have you cheering for her triumphs and sympathizing with her failures. The message of God’s love is subtle, but is definitely portrayed through the loving support of an older couple who come into Sam’s life. You are going to love the turn of events in that relationship!

Definitely a book I will recommend, I think Dear Mr. Knightley would be perfect for a book discussion group, especially for those New Adults in the group!


Great For Book Clubs.

(Thanks to LitFuse for a review copy. The opinions expressed are mine alone.)

To read more reviews, click HERE.

To purchase a copy of this book, click on the image below.

Dear Mr. Knightley is a clever read that will delight both Austen fans and contemporary women’s fiction fans.

Katherine is hosting a KINDLE HDX giveaway, a fun Favorite Austen Moments Pinterest contest, and an Austen-themed Facebook Party.


One winner will receive:

  • A Kindle Fire HDX
  • Dear Mr. Knightley by Katherine Reay
  • Handmade Austen-themed scarf, mug, bracelet, and necklace


Enter today by clicking one of the icons below or participating in the Pinterest contest—or BOTH! But hurry, the giveaway ends on December 3rd. Winner will be announced at the “Dear Mr. Knightley” Austen-themed Facebook Author Chat Party on the 3rd. Join Katherine (and Austen fans) for an evening of book chat, prizes, and an exclusive look at Katherine’s next book.

So grab your copy of  Dear Mr. Knightley and join Katherine on the evening of December 3rd for a chance to connect and make some new friends. (If you haven’t read the book, don’t let that stop you from coming!)


2 Responses to “Book Review: Dear Mr. Knightley”

  1. kreaybooks November 18, 2013 at 3:42 pm #

    Beckie, Thank you so much for such a lovely and thoughtful review. I am delighted you enjoyed Sam’s story. I loved the Muirs as well. 🙂

    • rbclibrary November 18, 2013 at 4:43 pm #

      You are welcome! Thanks so much for stopping by. Looking forward to your next book.

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