Saturday, November 16, 2013

Book Review: Dear Mr. Knightley

Dear Mr. KnightleyDear Mr. Knightley by Katherine Reay
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I have mixed feelings about this book. I am no Jane Austen fan (despite having degrees in English and Library Science), so perhaps that influenced my enjoyment (or lack thereof), but I had a very hard time buying the main character in this epistolary novel. A former foster kid whose traumatic childhood was far from sheltered, Samantha Moore somehow knows very little about the world -- think Dr. Temperance Brennan in "Bones" for a pop culture reference. She has long taken refuge in books, particularly Austen's and the Brontes', and the two-year period of the book reveals her slow blossoming into trust and connection with others, notably a couple who become surrogate parents and a famous author. Her letters themselves are addressed to "Mr. Knightley," an anonymous benefactor who is paying for her to attend graduate school in a program not of her choosing (although the reasons behind this are never quite clear), and in which she struggles mightily. Anyone who has read "Daddy Long Legs" will not be remotely surprised by the "twist" at the end, and perhaps that deflated the book's plot for me as well. Despite all of this, I was compelled to finish the book --perhaps because of the inherent momentum of a book written in brief letters? -- and the ending was as I expected. I'd like to hear an Austen fan's take on this novel.

* Thanks to the publisher for providing an e-galley for review through NetGalley. All opinions are my own.

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