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Dear Mr. Knightley

Thomas Nelson / 2013 / Paperback

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Product Description

Growing up in foster care, imaginative Samantha's only friends were characters in books. But her real life takes an extraordinary turn when a mysterious "Mister Knightley" offers her a full journalism scholarship---on the condition that she write to him regularly. Will their long-distance friendship unlock her heart?

Product Information

Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 336
Vendor: Thomas Nelson
Publication Date: 2013
Dimensions: 8.38 X 5.50 (inches)
ISBN: 140168968X
ISBN-13: 9781401689681
Availability: In Stock

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Publisher's Description

"Katherine Reay's Dear Mr. Knightley kept me up until 2:00 a.m.; I simply couldn't put it down." —Eloisa James, New York Times best-selling author of Once 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

Author Bio

Katherine Reay has enjoyed a life-long affair with the works of Jane Austen and her contemporaries—who provide constant inspiration both for writing and for life. She is the author of three previous novels, and her debut, Dear Mr. Knightley, was a 2014 Christy Award Finalist, winner of the 2014 INSPY Award for Best Debut, and winner of two Carol Awards for Best Debut and Best Contemporary. Katherine holds a BA and MS from Northwestern University and is a wife, mother, runner, and tae kwon do black belt. After living all across the country and a few stops in Europe, Katherine and her family recently moved back to Chicago. Visit her on line at katherinereay.com Facebook: katherinereaybooks Twitter: @Katherine_Reay

Product Reviews

4.6 Stars Out Of 5
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98%
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  1. Texas
    Age: 18-24
    Gender: female
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    Best Literary-Based Book
    April 28, 2016
    Debbie
    Texas
    Age: 18-24
    Gender: female
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 5
    I started reading this book with low expectations, but the author interpolated quotes effortlessly. She wrote with a clarity and sincerity that made me fall in love with Sam throughout her emotional/spiritual journey. This might be my favorite book and I would whole-heartile reccomend it to anyone!
  2. Michigan
    Age: 55-65
    Gender: female
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    Hard to put this book down!
    February 3, 2016
    Magister
    Michigan
    Age: 55-65
    Gender: female
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 0
    I have hesitated to compose my review because there is no way I can do this book justice! As soon as I finished reading it, I realized I had to REread it immediately (to gain Mr. Knightley's perspective of Samantha's letters, rather than just her own). And I did...and was even more impressed with Sam's self-disclosure and honesty. Hard to believe that this was Katherine Reay's first published book - it's a jewel.

    This is a book that will make you ache for every kid shuttled through the foster care system. But what about those kids as they age out? Where do they go, and what scars do they carry into adulthood? Samantha Moore was first neglected, then abused by her parents. The only stability she knew came from a few compassionate foster parents and Father John, the director of Grace House in Chicago, where she has lived for eight years. After several disastrous attempts at living on her own, Sam returns to Grace House at age 23 to pursue graduate studies in journalism. Father John has been instrumental in helping her get a grant to cover her tuition, but it comes with strings - the head of the foundation providing this opportunity wants her to keep in touch and apprise them of her progress through regular journal-style letters. Knowing her affinity for fiction in general and Jane Austen in particular, he signs his request, "Mr. Knightley," and thus the title of this delicious book.

    Sam would rather study/write fiction than objective journalism, but at this point she doesn't have much control. Father John wisely knows that for far too long Sam has escaped into her books. He counsels her: "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 you way around in the real world and its people." This is the premise of the book - Sam learning about herself and other people, through her rocky semesters at grad school.

    I won't spoil this read for you by saying too much about Sam's friends, except that they are lively and each contributes to her eventual wholeness. Some parts of the book are gritty and will make you reach for the kleenex; others will have you smiling and whispering "YES!" But one friend deserves special mention because he, too, is looking for wholeness and happiness - Sam's favorite living author, Alex Powell.

    They bump into each other on campus (he is also a Northwestern graduate) while he is researching his next novel, and develop a friendship at first based on their common love of books. They struggle with how much to reveal of themselves to each other (her foster history, his broken heart from a failed engagement), as they move from acquaintances to friends to love. I was touched when Alex shares his loss of peripheral vision in one eye - a neat metaphor of the blindness old injuries inflict on our hearts, and Sam has plenty of those.

    At the same time the Sam is recognizing her feelings for Alex, she is becoming more and more open in her letters with the anonymous "Mr. Knightley" - her failing grades, her conflicts over how much of her real self she reveals to her friends, her fears of the future. And then suddenly, a burst appendix sends her back to Grace House to recover from surgery. There she finally faces her past and finds the voice her journalism mentor demands. She writes a paper describing her experiences in the foster care system with white-hot honesty and energy. Her professor thinks enough of it to encourage publication, and suddenly there is no hiding who Sam really is from her friends.

    But strangely, she doesn't want to share this article with the friend who matters most. She continues to hide this huge chunk of her life from Alex, and he in turn, hides by returning to New York and his writing. It looks like this is the end of a blossoming love story - even mutual friends cannot make them see the mistake they are making - until a car accident brings them together again. But this isn't the climax...you'll have to read it for yourself to find out what Paul Harvey used to call "the rest of the story!"

    I wish I could give this book more than five stars. It is one I heartily recommend, especially if you have an interest in good English literature. You'll love the quotes sprinkled throughout the book as you fall in love with Sam.
  3. Massachusetts
    Age: 45-54
    Gender: female
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    Dear Mr. Knightly
    January 20, 2015
    Collette
    Massachusetts
    Age: 45-54
    Gender: female
    Quality: 4
    Value: 4
    Meets Expectations: 5
    I loved this book. At first I liked the format because the chapters were short. Then I was there in the story and could feel what Sam felt and be where she was. I was sorry to leave and know I will read this and visit again.
  4. Pittsburgh, PA
    Age: 45-54
    Gender: female
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    A Great Book!
    December 27, 2014
    nhlceta1566
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Age: 45-54
    Gender: female
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 5
    I read this book because the CBD website highlighted this author and I was in need of a good book to read on vacation. I am SO glad I took the chance. This book is so fun to read, moves quickly, is a nice kind of funny, and I really loved the plot and characters. I LOVE that the author weaves the God into the story, but not in a way that is unnatural or would prevent a non-Christian to feel preached to.
  5. California
    Age: 35-44
    Gender: Female
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    •°o•:*:•.Full of Heart.•:*:• o°•
    May 19, 2014
    Blue Jeans & Teacups
    California
    Age: 35-44
    Gender: Female
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 5
    This book is so unique. Setting - *sometime between 2010-2014. Samantha has lived in a group home and has the opportunity to move out as a young adult woman, or accept a grant to further her education, but she will have to continue in the group home.

    She opts for the first choice, but the job doesn't last long. She is forced to move back to the group home, and reapplies for the grant. Understandably the foundation is hesitant, and rather than give her the money outright, they require regular updates via penned correspondence to ensure she will not change her mind again. To ensure anonymity and no potential attachment, she is instructed to address the letters to Mr. George Knightly, who will in turn read them, but not respond.

    She agrees to the terms, but finds great therapy in the letter writing and spills forth all sorts of personal information.

    Rather than chapters in this book, there are dates. The date each letter is written. I really enjoyed it and read it cover to cover in one day.

    Sam does a lot of growing in the course of the story. Her head is filled with literary quotes, which she randomly shares with people who usually do not know what she is talking about. That was fun, because if you enjoy classic literature like Jane Austen, you will appreciate those moments. I don't usually read modern stories, so when she referenced PBSs Downton Abbey and Sherlock, well, I actually shouted, "Yes!" in delight. I was unsure of the *exact time setting until then.

    The sub-story of Kyle, a messed up, angry teenager in the group home, was a strong and moving one. Getting to know him through Sam's eyes and experiences with him was interesting.

    I especially enjoyed the strong influence and love of Professor and Mrs. Muir. What they did for Sam moved me to tears (but, no spoilers).

    I did not care for her first boyfriend, Josh. But the friendship she develops with Alex, a famous author was a treasure to see develop.

    Yesterday in church, our pastor shared how "One wrong turn on the road can change your day, but one wrong turn in life can affect you for years. It is important to think ahead and consider the consequences." Some of these characters did that, while others did not. There were many "consequences" throughout this book. Truly interesting.

    This is Katherine Reay's debut novel. I can't wait to read what she comes up with next!

    Things that are included: *Discussion Questions at the end. *Q&A with Author

    I purchased this copy and opinions are my own.

    © 2013

    Heather Guerrero

    Read: 5/18/2014

    Reviewed: 5/19/2014
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