It won’t surprise me one bit if December 31st rolls around and I can still say Dear Mr. Knightley is my favorite book of 2014. This story is just that good.
Author Katherine Reay has combined elements of Jane Austen’s works with one of Lucy Maud Montgomery’s to create a truly unique, contemporary story. To make it even more interesting, the story is told in letters, letters that travel mostly in one direction—from Samantha Moore to her mysterious benefactor, known to her as Mr. George Knightley.
Samantha is a young woman overcoming a traumatic childhood. In order to cope with situations out of her control, Samantha has learned to hide in books and even goes so far as to take on the personality traits of her favorite characters as she needs them, often going so far as to use even their words as her own.
Samantha longs to study literature in college, but is offered a full scholarship from an unknown person on two conditions. First, she must study journalism instead of literature. Second, she must send updates of her progress in letter form on a regular basis. Samantha struggles with her decision, but finally agrees to her benefactor’s terms. Her letters become a journal of sorts, even though Mr. Knightley is reading them. Through the exercise and her experiences and with the help of new people entering her life, Samantha begins to discover who she really is—and how to show this self to others without fear.
Dear Mr. Knightley is Reay’s first novel, but I will be watching for more. Thomas Nelson Publishers sent me a complimentary eCopy of this one for my review. I recommend this book.