Book Review, Contemporary

Book Review – Dear Mr. Knightley

Dear Mr. Knightley by Katherine Reay

51zg6gftagl._sy346_This is quite possibly one of the most soul-searching Christian fiction novels I’ve read. This novel was absolutely superb in it’s fine detail and story unraveling. I think it will rank up in my top ten reads for this year.

Here is the back cover copy:

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.
Sam Moore is a character that I found so easy to relate to. Her self-reflection made me want to spill all my own secrets. She’s had a hard life, and so many disappointments. She doesn’t want to let anyone into her life. Instead, she chooses to deflect.
And yet, is this any way to live?

Why did I like this story so much? I’ve been mulling over this question the past few days, trying to put into words just what it has that spoke to me.

Sam, the main character, was one I felt very much drawn to. Although her childhood was not at all like my own, the doubts and fears she faces are very much ones that I can relate to. And the way she reveals her innermost feelings and thoughts as she pens letters to the anonymous Mr. Knightley spoke to me in ways that I’m not sure even now I can really explain. I just know that the deep soul searching that is displayed in these pages had me wanting to come here and spill my guts in a way to get that same free and cleansed feeling that she wrote of.

Through the story, Sam’s character is developed in amazing detail. You come to know her back story, and why she keeps herself so carefully hidden and masked behind her favorite book characters.

Even though I am not an Austen fan, and could not relate to the many Jane Austen quotes scattered throughout this book, the message came through loud and clear, and I found myself resolving to be more present, live more transparently, and really, just be the best me that I can be.

My rating: 5/5

What book have you read recently (fiction or non) that has challenged you? Tell me about it.

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