Mini-Review: Dear Mr. Knightley by Katherine Reay

Posted January 31, 2015 by Lillian in Reviews / 5 Comments

Mini-Review: Dear Mr. Knightley by Katherine ReayDear Mr. Knightley by Katherine Reay
Published by Thomas Nelson on 2013-11-05
Length: 317 pages
Reviewing eBook from TN R.E.A.D.S.

Dear Mr. Knightley is a contemporary epistolary novel with a delightful dash of Jane Austen.

Samantha Moore survived years of darkness in the foster care system by hiding behind her favorite characters in literature, even adopting their very words. Her fictional friends give her an identity, albeit a borrowed one. But most importantly, they protect her from revealing her true self and encountering more pain.

After college, Samantha receives an extraordinary opportunity. The anonymous “Mr. Knightley” offers her a full scholarship to earn her graduate degree at the prestigious Medill School of Journalism. The sole condition is that Sam write to Mr. Knightley regularly to keep him apprised of her progress.

As Sam’s true identity begins to reveal itself through her letters, her heart begins to soften to those around her—a damaged teenager and fellow inhabitant of Grace House, her classmates at Medill, and, most powerfully, successful novelist Alex Powell. But just as Sam finally begins to trust, she learns that Alex has secrets of his own—secrets that, for better or for worse, make it impossible for Sam to hide behind either her characters or her letters.

Oh wow! It’s not often that a book makes me sigh aloud at its ending, but this one did! Dear Mr. Knightley is a story about finding hope in our darkest time, overcoming our own weaknesses and stepping out of your comfort zone. Samantha Moore is a twenty-three year old foster kid turned adult who accepts a grant to go back to college to get her master’s degree in journalism. There’s just one catch. The foundation CEO who gives her the grant asks that she write him regularly with updates about her progress, not just in college but in life as well. To make her feel safe and comfortable in doing this, he never reveals his name only that she may write to him as Mr. Knightley. Sam does this and uses the letters almost like a journal revealing parts of herself that she has never told another soul, things about her past, her struggles with trust, her defense mechanisms, everything! But who is the mysterious Mr. Knightley?

I fell in love with Sam from the moment she wrote her first letter. It’s clear that even as an adult her problems have followed her: nightmares from her childhood, trust issues, insecurity, lack of self-worth. But she is so much more. She’s smart, loves books (specifically Jane Austen 😀 ) and is a bit naive to the way the world really works. Growing up without a family, shutting herself off from making real friends has hindered her, but this story is about discovering oneself and making lasting connections. The turn around of Sam from the start of the book to its end is poignant and beautifully written. As I said I love her!

But this story isn’t just about Sam. It’s also the other characters that come into her life and change her for the better. The Muirs, Kyle, Father John, Ashley, Debbie, and Alex have a huge impact on Sam and I love them all dearly. I understood them, even when there was little interaction as Sam is writing about them to Mr. Knightley. It’s clear to the reader that these people care about her even when it isn’t clear to Sam. And it is reading Sam’s transformation as she sees what she has when it’s been so clear to the reader that makes this a truly unique, heart-warming story.

Each chapter in this book, save the last one, is written as a letter, all to the mysterious Mr. Knightley (save a few written back to her or to his assistant). Truly it’s a unique way of writing a book and reminds me of one of my favorites The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. The story is unique and unfolds over two years as Sam starts her master’s training and eventually graduates. The author infuses some Christian values throughout the story and we see the subtle changes this makes in Sam’s life. I loved every word and will most likely read it again and again! If you enjoy clean contemporary women’s literature, Jane Austen (because this is a bit of fan fic), or just a good feel-good story I highly recommend you get this book…but be sure to bring the tissues, you’ll probably need them!

Gif to Sum It Up: 

Final Conclusion:


This book fulfills requirement number 15 on the COYER Scavenger Hunt.

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5 responses to “Mini-Review: Dear Mr. Knightley by Katherine Reay

  1. Oh wow – this isn’t what I expected at all, butsounds so good. I saw Mr. Knightly and, of course, thought this was going to be a retelling or addition to Emma (because I’m an Austen die hard LOL) but this seriously sounds even better! I’m going to look it up for sure – I just love epistolary novels and this one sounds like it will be a tear jerker too. Great review!
    Berls recently posted…Meet Katie Hayoz | Third Round CompetitorsMy Profile

    • Thanks Berls! I thought the same thing (also a die hard Austen fan) and while it has some Emma-esque moments it is definitely a book all its own with LOTS of Austen quotes 😀

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