Monday, September 1, 2014

Book Review: Dear Mr. Knightley by Katherine Reay

Dear Mr. Knightley
I loved this novel around Jane Austen’s work.

Here’s the summary:

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.

And now, my review:

Our heroine is accountable to her benefactor for how her schooling is going. And because their communication is one-sided, she’s free to share her heart. So she does. Details and heartaches and questions and struggles. The sharing is cathartic and healing, though vulnerable.

I enjoyed the references to Austen’s work, but also this story’s originality. I’m sure readers who know Austen’s work better than I will appreciate more references than I found. Reay had a great knack with storytelling that kept me flipping screens of this e-book. The romantic elements were interesting. And watching our heroine grow and learn through her challenges kept me engaged.

If you’re looking for a modern tale with an Austen-esque twist, I highly recommend this title. Very enjoyable.


  1. Annette, Thank you for such a lovely review. I'm thrilled you enjoyed Dear Mr. Knightley. I'm also pleased that knowing or not knowing the literary references didn't detract from the story. They were like fun breadcrumbs. :)

    Lizzy & Jane comes out next month. And although it's a very different story, I hope you'll love that one too -- it has some of the same vulnerability you found in DMK and we find in ourselves.

    Thanks again!

  2. Hi Katherine,I signed up to read Lizzy and Jane too. Looking forward to reading the ARC and reviewing it. How fun to find new author friends and their books! Write on!