Book Review: Dear Mr. Knightley by Katherine Reay

Posted by: Kristi


This review is going to be a bit different than the ones that have been posted in the past.  Because this is a fiction book, I thought a different format would be a better fit.  I found this article on Goodreads to give me some help in writing a fiction book review.

Name of Book: Dear Mr. Knightley: A Novel

Author: Katherine Reay

Overall reaction: Can I just start by saying that I really really enjoyed this book?!  The characters were fun (with depth), the storyline was original to me, and the plot covered everything from a girl working through her past to a clean romantic twist to even a reference or two to specific clothing brands that I find very classy!  Oh, and I would be amiss to not mention all the great literary references that Reay includes within the story!  This took my Jane Austen loving self back to so many of the classics that I had read or studied.

Let me just say that I hate knowing any more of a storyline than I have to before reading a book.  Rarely do I even read the back cover because it can give more away than I prefer (this has worked for me because almost every book I read comes as a recommendation from someone I know or trust).  With that being said, in following you will find the very limited summary of Dear Mr. Knightley.

Summary: Samantha Moore, a 23-year-old orphan with a difficult past, is given the opportunity to attend an esteemed journalism school with one caveat: she has to write letters to the anonymous benefactor to ensure the scholarship is going to a worthy candidate.  Almost the whole book is written through these letters which means you get to read the novel completely through Sam’s perspective.  The letters chronicle her experience becoming more emotional and revealing with the anonymous Mr. Knightley as the story progresses.

And, I’ll leave it at that!

Characters I could relate to: Part of the reason I enjoyed this book is because it was difficult for me to relate to, but in a good (partially selfish) way.  I plan on reviewing Reay’s second book, Lizzy and Jane, which has cancer in the story line.  I found that book to be much more uncomfortable because it was a story line that I may have to deal with someday.  The characters in Dear Mr. Knightley had pasts that do not directly relate to me.

With that being said, throughout Dear Mr. Knightley, Sam realizes that she is hiding behind the personas of many of the characters in her beloved books.  Although I don’t find myself to struggle with this particular defense mechanism, I do have plenty of other defense mechanisms.  Her character challenged me to think through the ways I hide myself from others and the ways that others may hide themselves from me.

Who do I recommend to read this book: I recommend this book to anyone who would get a kick out of references to Jane Austen, Shakespeare, or Dickens.  I know I didn’t catch all of the references, but it definitely didn’t distract me from the story line; instead it made me want to go read some more classics and re-read the ones I have read!

Rarely do I read fiction books, and I don’t regret this one at all (although it did cause me to be less productive as I had a difficult time putting it down!).  One more note on Dear Mr. Knightley: I loved that the story included a romantic aspect, but it wasn’t the primary focus.  I am definitely a chick flick type of girl, but I find that (Christian) romance novels are generally not encouraging to me.  I thought Reay did a great job of keeping the romantic parts fairly down to earth and realistic for the most part :).

If you’ve read Dear Mr. Knightley, I’d love to hear your comments it!  And let me know if you have any suggestions for the format of book reviews!


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