Dear Mr. Knightley by Katherine Reay
Thomas Nelson (November 5, 2013) 328 pages
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 Rating: 4/5 stars
As I kept hearing praise about this book, I knew it was one I'd have to read. When I discovered that it was written in the form of letters, I got worried. That didn't sound the least bit appealing to me. It took me a little while to completely get into the story, but thankfully, I did. It also took me a little bit to like Sam. She's built quite a wall around her, but through the letters, she shows who she really is, and I couldn't help but to like her then.
My reading experience was a bit different with this book than my typical read. With my fiction, I like knowing the least amount as possible before opening its pages. I also NEVER, EVER want to know the ending, until I reach that final page. There's a bit of mystery surrounding these letters, but I was so convinced I knew the ending that at about 1/4th of the way through, I gave in to the pull, and read the ending. I'm still shocked at myself! But, I was right, and I think I actually enjoyed the story more knowing for sure.
I enjoyed the constant talk about classic books from Sam, despite the fact that I'm so "unread" in them. I did hate that there were spoilers for some of them, because I DO want to read these books at some point! I'm sure it's assumed that most readers picking up this book will be well read in the classics. ;)
Overall, this was a very sweet book! I'm looking forward to seeing more from Reay!
*Thank you to Thomas Nelson for providing me with a review copy through Booksneeze in exchange for my honest opinion.