Dear Mr. Knightley

( 81 )

Overview

?Katherine Reay'sDear Mr. Knightleykept me up until 2:00 a.m.; I simply couldn't put it down."?Eloisa James,New York Timesbest-selling author ofOnce Upon a Tower

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 ...

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Dear Mr. Knightley: A Novel

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Overview

“Katherine Reay'sDear Mr. Knightleykept me up until 2:00 a.m.; I simply couldn't put it down."—Eloisa James,New York Timesbest-selling author ofOnce Upon a Tower

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.

Dear Mr. Knightley is a stunning debut—a pure gem with humor and heart.” —Serena Chase, USA Today

Includes Reading Group Guide

Plus Bonus Material: Q & A with Katherine Reay and Sam’s Reading List

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble

Living in literature can be a soothing experience; indeed, so comforting at times that it can stealthily lead us astray. For Samantha Moore, the young woman at the center of Katherine Reay's debut fiction, the opportunity to have a mysterious anonymous benefactor seemed a free pass to enter realms more commonly occupied by characters of her beloved Jane Austen and Dickens novels. Only later, when a more troubling situation surfaces does Sam realize that the "Mr. Knightley" of her dreams needs to be replaced by a more realistic sense of herself.

Publishers Weekly
11/11/2013
Samantha Moore is more than ready to leave Grace House, the orphanage she has lived in for eight years. In order, however, to pursue her dream of writing, she remains and accepts a grant to attend journalism school. The grant holds an unusual stipulation: She must write regularly to the anonymous donor, as she would in a journal. Sam's letters, though addressed to ‘Mr. Knightley,' could just as easily have begun ‘Dear Diary.' Her elusive benefactor seems to know Sam's penchant for classic literature, pulling his pseudonym from Jane Austen's Emma. Debut novelist Reay laces Sam's speech, thoughts, and even her early journalistic endeavors with quotes and references from Austen, Charlotte Bronte, and Charles Dickens, among others. Sam's letters detail more than her academic pursuits. She shares her struggles to leave the orphanage and her tendency to hide in the words of her beloved books. The journal-entry format presents a deep first-person perspective as Sam learns to traverse the real world in search of her own happy ending. A delight for fellow lovers of the classics but also entertaining for those unfamiliar with referenced authors. (Nov.)
Library Journal
★ 11/15/2013
Orphaned at an early age, Samantha Moore comforts herself by escaping into classic novels. Confronted with uncomfortable situations, she retreats, acting out the roles of the heroes and heroines. When an anonymous benefactor known only as Mr. Knightley offers to pay her way through Northwestern University's prestigious journalism school, the only condition is that Samantha write regular letters to him detailing her progress. College life is not easy. Samantha's classmates find it odd that she cannot converse in her own words, and her journalism professor threatens her with expulsion if she cannot put some of herself into her work. Slowly, she begins to find her own voice while her relationship with the mysterious Mr. Knightley deepens. Can she develop enough self-trust to create meaningful friendships, improve her writing, and possibly engage in a romantic relationship? VERDICT This delightful debut novel about how one young woman learns to become the person she was meant to be will resonate with fans of New Adult fiction and with readers who enjoy Jane Austen spin-offs.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781401689681
  • Publisher: Nelson, Thomas, Inc.
  • Publication date: 11/5/2013
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 145,173
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Katherine 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 in not-for-profit development before returning to school to pursue her MTS.Katherine lives with her husband and three children in Seattle, WA. Dear Mr. Knightley was her first novel. Twitter: @Katherine_Reay Facebook: katherinereaybooks

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Read an Excerpt

Dear Mr. Knightley

a novel


By KATHERINE REAY

Thomas Nelson

Copyright © 2013 Katherine Reay
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4016-8968-1


CHAPTER 1

APRIL 2

Dear Sir,

It has been a year since I turned down your generous offer. Father John warned me at the time that I was making a terrible mistake, but I wouldn't listen. He felt that by dismissing that opportunity I was injuring not only myself, but all the foster children helped by your foundation.

I hope any perceived ingratitude on my part didn't harm anyone else's dreams. I wasn't ungrateful; I just wanted to leave Grace House. A group home is a difficult place to live, and I'd been there for eight years. And even though I knew graduate school meant more education and better job prospects, it also meant living at Grace House another two years. At the time I couldn't face that prospect.

My heart has always been in my books and writing, but I couldn't risk losing a paying job to pursue a dream. Now I'm ready to try. Not because I failed, but because this degree gives me the chance to link my passion with my livelihood.

Please let me know if the grant is still available. I will understand if you have selected another candidate.

Sincerely,

Samantha Moore


APRIL 7

Dear Ms. Moore,

The grant for full tuition to the master's program at Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism remains available. At the strong recommendation of Father John, and due to the confidence he has in you, the director of the Dover Foundation has agreed to give you this second chance. There is, however, one stipulation. The director wants to receive personal progress letters from you as reassurance that this decision was the right one. You may write to him as you would to a journal, letting him know how your studies are going. He has opened a post office box for this purpose so you won't feel the added pressure of an immediate connection to him or to the foundation. Additionally, he will not write back, but asks that you write to him regularly about "things that matter."

He recognizes that this is an unusual requirement, but the foundation needs to know that its resources are being used in the best way possible. Given your sudden change of heart, he feels it is not too much to ask. To make this easier for you, he will also remain anonymous. You may write to him at this address under the name George Knightley.

Sincerely,

Laura Temper Personal Assistant to Mr. G. Knightley


APRIL 12

Dear Mr. Knightley,

Thank you so much for giving me this opportunity. I submitted my application to Medill this morning. I had to use a couple papers on Dickens and Austen in place of the journalism samples requested. While that may count against me, I felt the rest of my application was strong.

If you will allow, I want to honor Father John's trust and yours by explaining my "sudden change of heart," as Ms. Temper described it. When I graduated college last spring, I had two opportunities: your grant to fund graduate school or a job at Ernst & Young. In my eagerness to leave Grace House and conquer the world, I chose the job. Six weeks ago I was fired. At the exit meeting my boss claimed I was "unengaged," especially with regard to peer and client interactions. I did good work there, Mr. Knightley. Good solid work. But "relating" in the workplace is important too, I gather. That's where I failed.

I'm guessing from your literary choice of pseudonym that you are very likely acquainted with another admirable character from fiction—Elizabeth Bennet, Jane Austen's complex and enchanting heroine. At Ernst & Young I tried to project Lizzy's boldness and spirit, but clearly she had a confidence and charm that was more than I could sustain on a daily basis. So now here I am, back at Grace House, taking advantage of the state's willingness to provide a home for me till I'm twenty-five if I stay in school.

Nevertheless, Father John still doubts me and couldn't resist a lecture this morning. I tried to listen, but my eyes wandered around his office: photographs of all the children who have passed through Grace House cover every space that isn't taken up with books. He loves murder mysteries: Agatha Christie, James Patterson, Alex Powell, P. D. James, Patricia Cornwell ... I've read most of them. The first day we met, right before I turned fifteen, he challenged me to stretch beyond the classics.

"Are you listening, Sam?" Father John finally noticed my wandering eyes. "The Medill program is straight up your alley. You're a great reader and writer."

"'I deserve neither such praise nor such censure. I am not a great reader, and I have pleasure in many things.'" Elizabeth Bennet has a useful reply for every situation.

Father John gave a small smile, and I flinched. "What if I can't do this?" I asked. "Maybe it's a mistake."

He sat back in his chair and took a slow breath. Eyebrows down, mouth in a line.

"Then turn this down—again—and find another job. Pound the pavement quickly, though. I can give you a couple weeks here to get on your feet, then my hands are tied." He leaned forward. "Sam, I'll always help you. But after this, if you're not in school, Grace House is closed to you. This foundation helps a lot of kids here, and I won't jeopardize that support because you can't commit. So decide right now."

A tear rolled down my cheek. Father John never gets charged up, but I deserved it. I should only be grateful to you both, and here I was questioning your help. But help is hard, Mr. Knightley—even when I desperately need it. Every foster placement of my childhood was intended to help me; every new social worker tried to help my case; when I was sent back home at twelve, the judge meant to help my life too ... I'm so tired of help.

"I'm sorry, Father John, you're right. I want this grant and I asked for it again. I must seem so ungrateful to you, to be questioning again."

"You don't, Sam, and I can understand wanting to stand alone. Even in the best of times and circumstances, it's hard to accept help—"

In the end, Father John believed my commitment. I hope you do too. Here is our agreement: you will pay for graduate school, and I will write you letters that give an honest accounting of my life and school—and you will never write back. That simple, right?

Thank you for that, Mr. Knightley—your anonymity. Honesty is easier when you have no face and no real name. And honesty, for me, is very easy on paper.

I also want to assure you that while I may not relate well to people in the real world, I shine in school. It's paper-based. I will do your grant justice, Mr. Knightley. I'll shine at Medill.

I know I've said more than was necessary in this letter, but I need you to know who I am. We need to have an honest beginning, even if it's less impressive than Lizzy Bennet's.

Sincerely,

Samantha Moore


APRIL 21

Dear Mr. Knightley,

Each and every moment things change. For the most part, I loathe it. Change never works in my favor—as evidenced by so many foster placements, a holdup at a Chicago White Hen, getting fired from Ernst & Young, and so many other changes in my life I'd like to forget. But I needed one more—a change of my own making—so I pursued your grant again.

But it's not of my own making, is it?

Father John told me this morning that he was the one who proposed journalism for me—it was not an original requirement for your grant. I wouldn't have chosen it myself. My professor at Roosevelt College said I produced some of the best work on Austen, Dickens, and the Brontes he'd ever read. I'm good at fiction, Mr. Knightley. And I don't think it's right that Father John took away my choice. I'm twenty-three years old; I should be the author of the changes in my life.

I went to Father John and explained all this. I feel he has arbitrarily forced me into journalism—a field I don't know and don't write. "You need to undo that," I pleaded. "They'll listen to you."

Father John closed his eyes. One might think he'd fallen asleep, but I knew better. He was praying. He does that—a lot.

Minutes passed. He opened his eyes and zeroed in on me. Sometimes I feel his eyes are tired, but not at that moment. They were piercing and direct. I knew his answer before he opened his mouth.

"Sam, I won't ... but you can. Write the foundation's director and ask." Father John stared into my eyes, measuring his words. "Don't lie. Don't tell them I've changed my mind. I have not. I am wholly against a change in program."

"How can you say that?" My own shrill voice surprised me.

"I've known you for eight years, Sam. I've watched you grow, I've watched you succeed, and I've watched you retreat. I want the best for you, and with every fiber of my being, I am convinced that 'the best' is not more fiction, but finding your way around in the real world and its people."

I opened my mouth to protest, but he held up his hand. "Consider carefully. If the foundation is unwilling to alter your grant, you may accept or you may walk away. You always have a choice."

"That's not fair."

Father John's eyes clouded. "My dear, what in your life has ever come close to fair? That's not how this life works." He leaned forward and stretched his hands out across the desk. "I'm sorry, Sam. If I could protect you from any more pain, I would. But I can only pray and do the very best God calls me to do. If I'm wrong about this, I hope that someday you will forgive me."

"'My temper would perhaps be called resentful.—My good opinion once lost is lost forever.'" When Elizabeth Bennet doesn't come through, one can always count on Mr. Darcy to provide the right response. I shook my head and, quoting no one, said, "I won't forgive you, Father John. I don't forgive." And I walked out.

I don't care if that was ungenerous, Mr. Knightley. He overstepped, and he's wrong. So now I'm asking you: Will you let me decide?

Sincerely, Samantha Moore


APRIL 25

Dear Ms. Moore,

Please forgive me for violating our agreement already, but I felt your question warranted a personal reply.

I understand your anger. It is hard when others hold power over you. Rest assured, your situation is not unique. There is very little any of us chooses in isolation.

Through my foundation, Father John has helped five young adults from Grace House. One attended junior college; another, trade school; one graduated from cosmetology school; and two successfully completed residential treatment programs. Each individual has grown closer to whole.

Father John not only fulfilled all the grant requirements for your application, but wrote me an additional five pages outlining your writing abilities, your gifts, and your determination. His decision to recommend journalism school was not made lightly, as you well know. Remember that, and remember what he has meant in your life. Don't throw away friends and mentors carelessly. They are rare.

I trust Father John's prayerful counsel and judgment, and stand with his original recommendation. My foundation will only award the grant for Medill's master's program.

The choice to accept it or not is yours, Ms. Moore.

Sincerely,

G. Knightley


MAY 10

Dear Mr. Knightley,

I didn't withdraw my application. I made my choice and now I sit, waiting for Medill to accept or reject me.

In the meantime I've settled into my old ways and my old jobs: I resumed tutoring at Buckhorn Cottage (Grace House's cottage for 8- to 13-year-old boys) and I picked up a few shifts at the public library. I've been working at that library for a decade now, even before I moved to Grace House for the first time.

I was about fifteen when I first arrived at Grace House. Father John took me to his office and invited me to sit. No one had ever done that—invited me to do anything. He chatted for a few minutes, then handed me an Anne Perry novel.

"Detective Huber got your file for me, Sam, and it's full of references to Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre, Oliver Twist, and other great classics. I think you must like to read. So until I get some of your favorites, would you like to read one of mine?"

The thick hardback had a picture of a Victorian house on the cover. I slowly turned the pages, hoping if I feigned interest in his book, he'd take me to wherever I'd be staying and leave me alone.

He didn't. "This is one of the first mysteries I ever read. Now I'm hooked. I've got about a hundred titles over there." Father John pointed to his bookcase and waited.

I looked up.

"Come to my office anytime you want a new one. I picked that for you because it takes place in England in the nineteenth century, about the same time as your favorites."

I put the book down, never breaking eye contact. A show of strength, I thought.

He sighed and leaned back in his chair. "Your choice. I'm sure I can get some classics this week. Or you can go to the public library; it's on the corner of State and Van Buren."

I wanted to say I knew exactly where the library was, but that would require speaking to him, so I simply slid the book into my lap. I wasn't going to admit, even to myself, that I liked the man—and still do. In spite of how angry I am with him at the moment, I know that Father John has always been on my side.

He welcomed me at fifteen and again at eighteen, after I tried to move out. And now at twenty-three, despite my heated words, he's opened Grace House's door once more. So while I'm here, I will listen to his lectures and I will try to do what he asks. I owe him that much.

I'll even try to play nice with Morgan, my new roommate in Independence Cottage ...

"She's had a rough time, Sam. She turned eighteen a couple days ago and her foster family ended the placement."

"She can go on her own. Isn't that a good thing?"

"Not without her GED . You know how important that is. She's testing next month, then joining the army." Father John stared right through me.

"Why are you telling me this?"

"I'm asking you to be kind. Morgan's defense mechanisms are different from yours, and it may be rough going. Please don't make waves."

"I make waves?"

"Like the ocean, kiddo. Then you retreat before they hit the sand."

Ouch.

So I'm being kind, but Morgan isn't making it easy. We were cleaning the kitchen the other day and I told her about your grant. I was trying to be friendly. She was not.

"You're selling yourself for school? I can't believe you'd give it up for tuition. At least get some money or clothes from the deal."

"Morgan, shut up. You're disgusting. It isn't like that. I write letters to an address in New York and I get my tuition paid to graduate school."

"I bet a lot of girls start out that way." Morgan stopped washing her dishes and stared at me. She smiled slowly, almost cruelly. "Letters will be worse for you anyway. Good luck with that."

"What do you mean 'worse for me'? I can write a few letters, Morgan. That's what I do. I write."

"Honesty will kill you. You're a coward, and you'll lie. That makes the whole deal a lie." She put her plate down and walked away.

She's not right. I'm not a coward, and I will be honest in these letters. Simply because I don't blab my business to the world like Mrs. Bennet doesn't mean I'm a coward. I'm prudent when dealing with people. That's smart. Wouldn't you agree?

But Morgan brings up a good point—her only one so far. Have you read Jane Eyre? There's a part when Mr. Rochester meets Jane and asks if she expects a present. Adele, his ward, believes everyone should receive presents, daily. Jane isn't so sure. She replies, "They are generally thought pleasant things ... a present has many faces to it, has it not? And one should consider all before pronouncing an opinion as to its nature."

You've led me to believe your gift has one face, Mr. Knightley. I'll leave it at that.

Sincerely,

Samantha Moore


P.S. Okay, I can't leave it ...

If you are truly a "Mr. Knightley," I can do this. I can write these letters. I trust you chose that name as a reflection of your own character. George Knightley is a good and honorable man—even better than Fitzwilliam Darcy, and few women put anyone above Mr. Darcy.

Yes, Darcy's got the tempestuous masculinity and brooding looks, but Knightley is a kinder, softer man with no pretense or dissimilation. Yes, he's a gentleman. And I can write with candor to a silent gentleman, and I can believe that he will not violate this trust.
(Continues...)


Excerpted from Dear Mr. Knightley by KATHERINE REAY. Copyright © 2013 Katherine Reay. Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 81 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(45)

4 Star

(19)

3 Star

(8)

2 Star

(4)

1 Star

(5)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 81 Customer Reviews
  • Posted February 21, 2014

    Where do I start with this book? It was beautiful. I loved every

    Where do I start with this book? It was beautiful. I loved every page and I only wish there was more of it. This is the kind of book that I love reading. It is a book of self discovery, friendship, and true love. I loved the characters. All of them. Sam is an intriguing heroine that you can't help but adore.

    This was an emotional read for me. I know it won't be for everyone. I just have a huge soft spot for foster kids and their unique trials. I did a lot of (not so) subtle eye swiping while reading.

    This is a beautiful debut. If you are looking for a fresh new voice in literature, one that will make you laugh, cry, and leave you with a smile on your face, then give Dear Mr. Knightley a try.

    Content: clean

    10 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted November 4, 2013

    I am a big Jane Austen fan so when I saw the title of this book

    I am a big Jane Austen fan so when I saw the title of this book I immediately snatched it up. Imagine my surprise when I started reading and realized this was not a Jane Austen knock-off. Was I disappointed? Not in the least! In fact I think I have just added a book to my top ten list for the year.




    This is Katherine Reay's debut novel but it does not read like one. The depth of emotion that this story evokes is overwhelming at times. Through the character of Samantha Moore we are taken into the world of the foster care system. Some of it good and nurturing but a lot of it broken and damaging. 




    A simple classification of this tale would be to characterize it as a love story. As with most love stories it is complex. It involves the love of a man for a woman but it also involves adults that love a child even when that child is an adult herself.




    If you enjoy deeply emotional and beautifully written literature I can almost guarantee that you will love this piece of work. Let me leave you with a couple of my favorite quotes from the book:




    "The day we forget the horror, Sam, we will repeat it. Never forget your past. It will make you less human, less than human."
    "I've heard all sorts of things about a kiss (melting, fireworks, music), but no one ever told me it's a conversation: asking, accepting, deciding, inviting, giving . . . questions posed and answered.I received a copy of this book to facilitate my review.

    5 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 15, 2014

    This is a great book!

    WARNING: There are some minor spoilers in this review, though nothing major.

    When I first came across this book on the b&n website, I expected another corny, predictable Austen spin-off romance novel. Then I began to read. I found the first chapter posted as a preview so intriguing, I had to buy it (and for $2.99, it was a great buy!). After that, I couldn't put it down. I devoured the whole thing in about a day a half. Anyone who is an Austen fan but also likes a novel that deals with tough, real-life, modern-day issues, this book is for you!

    I love how the author shows Sam's maturing process and eventual finding and embracing of who she really is through doing something (journalism school) that takes her completely out of her comfort zone (and thereby, out of the safety of the things she hides behind). How true to life that doing hard things and taking leaps of faith can stretch and grow us and help us to have more confidence in who we are and what we were meant to do. I especially like how Sam relates to Kyle and how they both find healing in the fact that they share the same struggles. I love the victory they both have over their pasts in the end. This is also very true to life.
    All that being said, there were a couple of things I wasn't crazy about. One, I felt that Sam's introduction into the Muirs' lives and acceptance into their family happened a bit suddenly. Two (maybe this should've been number one) I figured out who Mr. Knightley was long before it was revealed. There was really only one character he could've been. I think it might have served the author well to have had more than one character who was in a position to be this mysterious benefactor. So I found that part to be rather predictable, and also hard to believe(not as true to life as other elements of the story). This is why I didn't give it five stars, though I would've given it four and a half if I could. But overall an excellent read and lots of fun! I would definitely be interested in reading more from Katherine Reay.

    2 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 22, 2014

    Plot spoilers

    Well, here is another book that thanks to all the obnoxious plot spoilers, telling everything about the story...including the ending, then bragging how they got their book for free....is now useless to read. Who wants to pay for a book that is now ruined thanks to these a$$holes who just have to ruin the book for others. Thank you plot spoilers. Please get a life and stop ruining books for other readers.

    1 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 22, 2014

    A form seldom seen for good reason

    Lady Susan by Jane Austin is on nook if you ever read an austin with letters but no goodie two shoes is almost a shocker .Daddy which was a movie with fred astaire and i think caron a non musical. Very old girls story even for me and its sequel is on nook cheap mom

    1 out of 19 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 13, 2014

    Modern daddy long legs

    This is a good book, although at times the narrative gets kind of stodgy and too convoluted. It is a pretty close copy of the book Daddy Long Legs. I knew that about halfway through the book. Not an original story, but I enjoyed it.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 4, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Katherine's letter-writing approach is fresh, a form rarely see


    Katherine's letter-writing approach is fresh, a form rarely seen in Christian fiction. Any initial reservations I might have had quickly disappeared as I began to get caught up in the action and fast-paced dialogue of Sam's letters to Mr. Knightley. What at first seems to be a light, Austen-based romance surprisingly goes far deeper and turns out to be so much more.

    Katherine is very knowledgeable on foster care system and classic novels; her love for classical fiction shines through every page. It is my understanding that this story is a modern version of Jean Webster’s Daddy Long Legs, which I've never read. Neither have I read the Austen classics from which these characters frequently quote, but that in no way lessened my understanding and enjoyment of this novel.

    Sam is a delightfully human heroine - fun, quirky, smart, warm, loving, flawed and broken all at the same time. As a child who had known abuse and neglect, she used literature almost as a defense mechanism, erecting walls around herself to keep from getting hurt, only to discover that "no matter how many characters I hide behind, how much work I bury myself beneath, my past still pushes me every day and haunts me every night." She seemed to find a sanctuary in the letters she was required to write, and Mr. Knightley became a glorified diary as she began to pour her heart out to her unknown benefactor.

    Sam and Alex are complex characters and there's a great supporting cast. I loved Sam's rapport with the young teen Kyle and how they helped each other open up about the abuse they had experienced. And I wish I could pull Professor Muir and his wife off the pages and into my own life. One of my favorite takeaways from this story is the Professor's admonition to Sam concerning her background: "It's your past - your story to share. But never let something so unworthy define you."

    While the spiritual element is subtle, grace is a major theme from beginning to end. When Sam questions Father John at Grace House about the grant, he tells her, "Consider it grace - a gift unwarranted and undeserved." Sam felt so real that I was walking along beside her as she gradually matured both emotionally and spiritually. Her words give voice to the grace she received: "How can I not believe that there is a God who exists and loves, when the people before me are infused with that love and pour it out daily? I still can't grasp that it's for me, but what if it is?"

    Storylines are tied up pretty neatly at the conclusion, but that flowed nicely with the theme of grace and I loved it. I especially enjoyed the last section which was written outside the letter format.

    Rarely do I finish a novel and wish I had time to start again at the beginning, but I think a second reading would reveal so many things that I missed the first time. Dear Mr. Knightley should easily appeal to fans of the classics, but I don't hesitate to recommend it to all readers.

    This book was provided by Litfuse Publicity in exchange for my honest review.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 4, 2013

    When I read that  Dear Mr Knightley by Katherine Reay   was avai

    When I read that  Dear Mr Knightley by Katherine Reay   was available on Booksneeze, I absolutely had to read it. Instantly.  Advertised as a modern Daddy-Long-Legs by Jean Webster, with a heroine who hides her true self behind Jane Austen quotes, what wasn’t to like? Almost every girl loves Jane Austen, while Daddy-Long-Legs is just about my favourite novel ever. I reread it, following the development and adventures of the heroine Judy Abbott, every few years, along with Dodie Smith’s  I Capture the Castle.

    However, my high hopes initially disappointed me. The setting: Chicago, around a young people’s residential unit for children who had missed out on fostering, was recognizable as Judy Abbott’s  orphanage but the context was too modern for me. Sam, our heroine, had far more issues than Judy and I didn’t identify with her.  Still, I ploughed on and found myself becoming absorbed by the story. The plot and equivalent characters with Daddy-Long-Legs were fairly easily identifiable and I enjoyed seeing how Sam, with determination, persistence and loving encouragement, began to turn her life around. Her predilection for speaking in romantic literary quotations, chiefly from Austen and Bronte, was quirky and fun. I found myself trying to place the quotes before the characters were able to do so.

    As the story progressed, I became anxious.  Sam’s letters to her anonymous benefactor (Mr. Knightley) parallel Judy’s letters to her college sponsor.  As I read, I wondered if Sam’s story would have the same equivalent charming, happy ending. Judy falls in love with a wealthy, successful man before she discovers he is, in fact, her anonymous benefactor.  Sam develops a close relationship with Alex, a highly successful writer. Yet she also has a steady boyfriend with a good job and lavish lifestyle. Both relationships have ups and downs which she shares with ‘Mr Knightley’.  More importantly, Sam works through her issues, overcoming past hurts and damaging experiences. The story might draw on an older novel, but would this modern retelling end in a similar fashion?

    Well, I won’t spoil it. Suffice to say that the ending is suitably happy. Sam achieves success: in her career, in her relationships, and in becoming a whole, healed, happy person. And, as Jane Eyre would say: “Reader, I married him.” What more could the reader of romantic fiction want?

    1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 3, 2013

    This particular book had a lot of potential to disappoint me as

    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 <em>Emma Approved</em>
    , the new online series that started at the beginning of October from the makers of <em>The Lizzie Bennet Diaries</em>
    . Thankfully, Katherine Reay's debut novel did not disappoint. In fact, <em>Dear Mr. Knightley</em>
    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.

    <em>Dear Mr. Knightley</em>
    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.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 13, 2014

    I always pick up one of these kinds of books with equal parts an

    I always pick up one of these kinds of books with equal parts anticipation and trepidation. I knew by the time I finished the 4th letter that I loved this book -- no matter what the twists and turns of the plot would be.
    This is not a retelling of an Austen story or borrowing Austen characters; it is not a prequel or a sequel. It is inspired by Austen and a love of reading. It is a completely Austen story of a heroine who is on a voyage of self-discovery and grows in discernment in a close circle of family and friends. Sam's story is told entirely through the series of letters she writes to her benefactor -- Mr George Knightley.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 5, 2014

    I Also Recommend:

    Wonderful story about life

    A beautiful story filled with love, compassion, hurt, struggle, choices and our ability to keep going, to make it. To help others when we are able and to learn and receive help when we need it. In spite of pride or fear. This story is really a great read...

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 29, 2014

    Loved this book!

    I am a huge fan of the romance classics and this book did not disappoint! I couldn't put it down and will read it again and again. Looking forward to the next novel by this amazing author! I have already preordered. I love this novel !!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 17, 2014

    Bawk gym

    Open tupe bug

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 13, 2014

    Loved this book

    Great characters hard to put down

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 12, 2014

    Flat

    Much as i enjoy Austen, I'm pretty tired of spinoffs. But when I saw this was a retelling of the lovely and lesser-known Daddy Long Legs, I tried the sample. Unfortunately, I couldn't even get through that. Sam lacks the spunk and joie de vivre of the irrepressible Judy. By contrast, Sam is depressing and flat and hard to care about. Try the sample before you buy!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 10, 2014

    Excellent!

    A wonderful novel - highly recommend. Well written, thought-provoking.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 6, 2014

    Finally a rewrite of Daddy long legs.

    Think mary picford was in first movie version first book still in nook book

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 11, 2014

    Lovely

    I enjoyed this book. The story is told through letters to Mr. Knightly, and doesn't deviate from that format until the very end, when it becomes necessary for Ms. Reay to do so. It was as though I was reading a diary, yet much more interesting. I strongly recommend this book. Especially good for a summer read.

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  • Posted April 21, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    When the real world becomes too much, or if the real world start

    When the real world becomes too much, or if the real world starts taking things that you love away from you what do you do? Fight
    against it? Go with the flow? Or would you retreat and hid in a shell? Sometimes it helps when you’re down to have someone there to
    talk to. To be able to release some of the tension that builds up from too much stress. For some there just isn’t anybody to talk to, like
    Samantha Moore in the book “Dear. Mr. Knightley” who didn’t have anybody to talk to. No family, hardly any friends, except her fictional
    characters from her favorite Jane Austin, Charles Dickens books. To Samantha, Elizabeth Bennett, Emma Woodhouse and Fitzwilliam
     Darcy (or Mr. Darcy) they were her heroes. These characters that have faced tough times in a tough world always had something to
    say, some type of advice that became the voice for Samantha. But it gets kind of boring when the conversation is one sided. 

    So when an opportunity of a life-time comes along to go to one of the greatest Journalism colleges with Full Tuition all paid for with one
    perk: write letters to the anonymous benefactor who calls himself “Mr. Knightley” about Samantha’s progress. To be honest, Samantha
    was quite skeptical about writing letters to a complete stranger plus she is to never receive letters back. At the start, Samantha almost
    doesn’t go through with it. But once she found that writing to someone, voicing her days and progresses in school, actually helps her
     release her tension about school and about life as well seems to bring her out of her shell and be able to face the real world with her
    OWN voice. Not Elizabeth Bennett’s voice or Mr. Darcy’s voice speaking for her, for this time she’s speaking from her own experience,
    her own voice and Samantha has found that her voice has something special to say to those around her. Only question is, is the world
    ready to hear Samantha’s voice? 

    A wonderful story about a young woman who all her life lived through tragedy found comfort in her books and stayed hidden for so long
    she forgot how it feels and mean to live in the real world until an unknown benefactor helps her find her voice through actual letters.
    Not email, not instant text messages, not even Facebook was what she needed. The actual form of writing letters, mailing them day
    after day is what helped Samantha come out of her shell. When I was little, my hero at that time was my big brother, Rich. He was
    always ready for whatever the world tossed at him and always curious of what the world could offer him. He was super excited that his
    little sister was just as curious as he was, so what does a big brother to do? Send advice, give encouragement and since he lives in
    another state, letters is how we stayed connected. And we still do to this day. A little Postcard, or a quick letter here or there and that’s
    how we helped each other get through the hardships that life brought us. If you find that someone who could help you, or haven’t
    seen/talked to for a while, write a letter to them. You never know, they (or even you) might be living like Samantha Moore, hiding in their
    shell. You never know.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 3, 2014

    Meh

    I only read the first two entry thingies and to me it wa not that intresting. I did not enjoy it, but i'm not saying you can't. Think about it.

    Sincerly,
    Just the same

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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