Growing up orphaned and alone, Sam found her best friends in the works of Austen, Dickens, and the Brontë sisters. The problem is that she now relates to others more comfortably as Elizabeth Bennet and Jane Eyre than as herself.
Sometimes we lose ourselves in the things we care about most.
But life for this twenty-three-year-old is about to get stranger than fiction, when an anonymous benefactor (calling himself "Mr. Knightley") offers to put Sam through the 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 program and peers force her to confront her past, she finds safety in her increasingly personal letters to Mr. Knightley. And when Sam meets eligible, best-selling novelist Alex Powell, those letters unfold a story of love and literature that feels as if it's pulled from her favorite books. But when secrets come to light, Sam is—once again—made painfully aware of how easily trust can be broken.
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 take: Warning: I'm about to gush over this book. Is it too soon to name it my favorite read of 2013? Yes? Well just wait, then; I predict that on December 31, nothing will have usurped Dear Mr. Knightley's place on the top of my Best Books of 2013 list.
Dear Mr. Knightley is so familiar, yet so unique. It's familiar in that it frequently references Jane Austen, Shakespeare, and Jane Eyre (and even re-imagines certain plot points), and it also evokes more recent works like the film You've Got Mail. Yet it is unique in both plot and delivery—it's an epistolary novel, which means it is written through letters. (Yes, other epistolary novels do exist—notably Lewis's Screwtape Letters—but this is not a common form of writing today.)
After reading the back cover, I guessed the identity of Mr. Knightley (and I suspect you will, too), but that didn't matter one bit; the fact that Mr. Knightley ended up being exactly who I guessed only made the whole reading experience that much sweeter.
Honestly, I picked up Dear Mr. Knightley expecting a simple romance, but this book turned out to be so much more—throughout the course of the novel, Sam found her voice, her place in the world. And, yes, she found love—in many forms. One of the most touching aspects of the novel was not the romance (though it was sweet) but the love Sam found in family.
Dear Mr. Knightley is a novel that will grab you at the first page and not let go until you've finished the last. Run to your nearest bookstore (or, more realistically, click on over to the website of your favorite bookseller) and get your hands on a copy of this book. You won't regret it!
My rating: 5 stars
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About 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 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.
Learn more about Katherine at http://katherinereay.com/.
About the giveaway: Debut author Katherine Reay is celebrating the release of her delightful novel, Dear Mr. Knightley, with a Kindle Fire 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 items (scarf, mug, bracelet, and necklace)
Two ways to win! Enter today by clicking one of the icons below or participating in the Pinterest contest (see banner below)—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!)
Don't miss a moment of the fun; RSVP today by clicking JOIN at the event page. Spread the word—tell your friends about the giveaway and party via FACEBOOK, TWITTER, or PINTEREST. Hope to see you on the 3rd!
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Litfuse Publicity Group. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Also, some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."