by Katherine Reay
About the book:
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 23 year 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 Knightly is one of those books. I have to be honest – I hated it! for about the first 40 pages. I am so glad I persevered and got past the first few chapters. It's easily one of my TOP 3 books of 2014!
When I read the description of the book I thought.... here is a book with a heroine somewhat like myself. The description alludes to dark secrets – but it doesn't really say what the story is all about and I had no idea what I was going to be reading. There is a depth to this book that was completely unexpected – yes, I thought I was getting an interesting romance with a little meat but instead I got a full fledged novel that made me connect emotionally with Sam, Alex, the Ridley's, the Muirs, Kyle and Ashley. Each character has a story of their own and combined together it turns into a powerful story.
Another bonus to this novel is an extensive list of books that are quoted from and referred to by Sam, Alex and Ashley. I've never read Austen, Pride & Prejudice, Sense & Sensibility, Emma, The Count of Monte Cristo or most of the books referred to and quoted from in Dear Mr Knightley and this book has made me want to read at least one or two. Specifically Emma and possibly Jane Eyre. (I do have to say I've read the Narnia Chronicles, quite a bit of Shakespeare and Dickens and attempted to read Anne of Green Gables which I absolutely hated (that kid drives me nuts!).
I'd like to close by mentioning that while there is some mention of scripture and prayer in Dear Mr Knightley there is no true message of salvation and Sam isn't told to turn to Christ until the end. While the faith of Alex, the Ridley's & the Muirs seemed to be strong Sam's spiritual needs are not met 100% in the story and I would of loved to have seen a little more of that. One of the themes throughout the book is forgiveness and you see Sam struggling with it at the end of the book with the man she loves (there is a huge surprise at the end of the book) – there is no thought given to her need to forgive her parents (altho she does soften some toward them (kinda) and toward some of her foster parents). I think that would have been a little too big to add to this story as much of our trust in God is based on our needs being met by our parents....
I thought this was a key prayer in the book and loved Sam's conclusion:
“God, you gave us your Son, and now you've given us ours. We are so humbled and rocked to our very core to be blessed with this boy. Keep him close to you, Lord. Keep our eyes wide open when any danger approaches, any fears invade, or any enemy comes to steal the peace, the love, and the grace you've granted us. You are our God, and we are your children. Never let us forget. Amen.”
His voice bellowed over the table with such confidence that I knew – I knew no one can mess with this family. Bad things may come, but these people are God's.
And a key verse was: Jeremiah 29:11
Disclaimer: I was offered a copy of the book to read and review here on GivingNSharing in exchange for my honest opinion. I was not required to have a positive review and no money exchanged hands. Thanks for reading GivingNSharing!