Dear Mr. Knightley  -     By: Katherine Reay
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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. 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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Displaying items 1-5 of 38
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  1. Blue Jeans & Teacups
    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
  2. Karen Collier
    KarenCollier.com
    Age: 25-34
    Gender: female
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    Among My Favorites
    March 23, 2014
    Karen Collier
    KarenCollier.com
    Age: 25-34
    Gender: female
    Dear Mr. Knightley has found a place among my favorite books. I was swept away by the characters and the emotions, and simply had to keep reading to see what might happen next. So much for the errands I intended to get done that day....

    As I'm writing this review several days after reading the book, the characters are still with me, vivid and alive like cherished friends. And I'm tempted to dive right back into the book and read it again. In fact, I already have read a few of my favorite scenes a second (and third) time. The emotional resonance of those scenes is truly powerful. I feel for the characters, their vulnerabilities and fears, and I want to see them find love, acceptance, and happiness. Sam desperately wants to experience "normal" and I want that for her too. It's what drives her to grow and change and to confront her fears.

    The format of the book is unusual in that it consists almost entirely of the letters Sam writes to her benefactor, Mr. Knightley. Those letters are detailed accounts of the things that matter in her life, told in first person narrative format. At times, it was easy to get swept up in the action, description, and dialogue Sam records, and forget that I was reading a letter. And yet, the really great thing about the use of letters was getting to see Sam's perspective on events more or less as they were happening rather than her perspective looking back from the conclusion of the story. It gives a sense of immediacy, and allows the reader to see how her thinking changes as the story progresses.

    The faith element in this story shows up in the subtle influences of Christian characters Sam encounters who love and accept her, and show her a reason for hope. Given her fascination for literature, I loved the role her reading of CS Lewis's The Voyage of the Dawn Treader played in her growth and development, as well as her changing understanding of Scrooge in Dickens's A Christmas Carol. Framing her newfound understanding within a context of literature really seemed to make sense for her character, and provided a glimpse into the Christian worldview without becoming preachy. I think this is a story that could be enjoyed by Christians and non-Christians alike.

    This is a must-read debut novel, particularly if you're into Jane Austen or romance or literary novels or loveably flawed characters trying to find their place in the world. Please, do yourself a favor and give this book a try. And if you enjoy reading it as much as I did, you'll be on the lookout for Katherine Reay's next book, Lizzy and Jane, due out in October.

    Thank you to publisher Thomas Nelson for providing a complimentary copy for review purposes, via NetGalley. This is my own honest review.
  3. Bess
    USA
    Age: 25-34
    Gender: female
    3 Stars Out Of 5
    Daddy Long Legs-ish
    March 7, 2014
    Bess
    USA
    Age: 25-34
    Gender: female
    Quality: 4
    Value: 4
    Meets Expectations: 4
    Imagine it: you come from nothing but pain & poverty {a string of failed foster placements & abuse} - your future is bleak, as is your present - when out of the blue you receive word that someone wants to sponsor you through journalism grad school with the only stipulation being that you have to write this person {who wishes to remain anonymous, by the way} letters; he won't be writing back, so it'll be a one way correspondence of sorts. Not a bad deal. If you've ever read the classic Daddy Long Legs, it's probably come to mind by now. This story, Dear Mr. Knightley by Katherine Reay, is very Daddy Long Legs-ish, but modern with its own unique twists & turns, too. I think that slightly ruined it for me, however, because I am such a fan of the original story that my hopes were quite high for this retelling.

    I found that it starts out rather slow, & took me quite a lot of letters {the story is presented in the form of letters Samantha Moore writes to her mysterious benefactor who wants simply to be called "Mr. Knightley" after Jane Austen's literary leading man} to get into the story line. However, I stuck with it & eventually got into the reading. There's a satisfying, albeit predictable, conclusion at the end when you get to read what you knew was coming all along {that is, if you're familiar with Daddy Long Legs}. Overall, I give Dear Mr. Knightley 3 & a 1/2 postage stamps out of 5!

    *I received this book from the publisher for free (through the BookSneeze program) in exchange for my honest review.
  4. Jessica Laurie
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    My Dear Mr. Knightley...
    March 1, 2014
    Jessica Laurie
    Quality: 4
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 5
    "Dear Mr. Knightley,

    I thought about you last night and stayed up reading Emma. I adore her, though she's out of my reach. Can you imagine such confidence and assurance of your own significance? Do you know anyone who would dare declare that he or she "cannot really change for the better"? I'd like to believe that--even for a moment."

    Lizzy Bennet. Jane Eyre. Edmond Dantes. All fictional characters, but all real, constant friends to a girl who grew up in the foster care system after being taken away from her neglectful and abusive parents. Now grown up, Samantha Moore still has trouble connecting in relationships. Why trust the real world when the perfect companions are readily available in her beloved books? When all seems lost, Sam is given the opportunity to gain her Master's degree in journalism (though literature was her first choice, of course), but there's one catch. She must keep her anonymous benefactor informed with how her studies are progressing through letter-writing. So Sam reveals not only the details of her studies but her life to the silent but dependable person whom she only knows as as her Dear Mr. Knightley.

    Except for the last chapter, Dear Mr. Knightley, Katherine Reay's debut novel, is comprised entirely of Sam's letters to Mr. Knightley. This format took a little time to get used to and the story began a bit slow, but a third of the way in I was captivated, halfway through I was completely invested, and by the end, I loved the characters and Sam's story dearly. Though written in first person, all of the characters--Ashley, Kyle, Alex, Father John, Professor Muir and Mrs. Muir--and the situations come across achingly raw and authentic. I only felt a bit jarred at the end when I had to get used to seeing the world in third person, outside of Sam's intensely personal perspective. I suppose that's how our main character felt when she was forced to look up from her novels, encounter the real world, and discover herself as well.

    Like Sam did with her first copy of Pride and Prejudice, I want to read this book until the covers wear thin and I'm forced to buy another copy. Heart-breakinglyly honest, brilliantly hopeful, and sweetly romantic, I believe Jane Austen would approve.
  5. Monica H
    Atlanta
    Age: 25-34
    Gender: female
    4 Stars Out Of 5
    Engaging Coming-of-Age Novel
    February 22, 2014
    Monica H
    Atlanta
    Age: 25-34
    Gender: female
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 5
    Dear Mr. Knightley by Katherine Reay is a coming-of-age novel about a college graduate, Samantha, who has spent many years trying to forget and mask her past by hiding behind the characters of her favorite Austen novels. It's not a particularly effective coping mechanism, as it isolates her socially and prevents her from realizing her own potential.

    I struggled to get into this book, through no fault of the book or the author. As I started to read, the subject gave me flashbacks to Tom Wolfe's I am Charlotte Simmons and Curtis Sittenfeld's Prep. I disliked both those books immensely, finding the protagonists to be whiny, overly naïve and self-defeating. Both novels stuck with me for all the wrong reasons.

    I persevered and I'm glad I did. I found myself engaged with Samantha's journey towards self-discovery and cheering her on. She knew she had faults but she did not wallow in them (for the most part). She worked hard to better her situation, though naturally at times fell victim to her own self-doubt. Does she succeed in the end? You'll have to read the book yourself to find out.

    The "Dear Mr. Knightley" title refers to the anonymous benefactor who pays for Samantha's graduate education with the stipulation that she must provide updates via regular written correspondence. As you might expect, the letters become almost a diary and provide both self-reflection and catharsis for Samantha. One of the themes in the book centers on who Mr. Knightley is - and I will say the reveal at the end of the novel is surprising.

    Overall I found Dear Mr. Knightley to be a well-crafted novel with relatable characters and a believable plot. Unlike the other two novels I mentioned above, I enjoyed reading this book and would recommend it to others.

    Note: I received a complimentary copy of this book through BookLook Bloggers in exchange for an honest review.
Displaying items 1-5 of 38
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