Tag Archives: Jane Austen

Dear Mr. Knightley – Katherine Reay

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

DMK

I beg to differ, there was not a dash of Jane Austen in Dear Mr. Knightley it was more like the top fell off the salt shaker. I was terribly disappointed in Dear Mr. Knightley, I adore Jane Austen, the originals, retellings, modernizations what have you, even the cover tempted me. All of the components seemed to be present, truly I am still trying to figure out what went wrong with Katherine Reay’s story.

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.

I have read a few epistolary formatted novels recently and I think part of my issue with Dear Mr. Knightley was plain overexposure. There is no contribution from Mr. Knightley to balance the constant barrage of Samantha or at least there wasn’t at the 20% point where I packed it in and called it a day. Samantha is withdrawn and isolated unsurprising considering she grew up in the foster care system. Her character was hard to sympathize with and the ridiculous quoting of novels was out of place in a contemporary setting and frankly jarring when attempting to follow the course of the story. I found her character next to impossible to like let alone empathize with and I just could not find it within myself to persevere.

Ultimately, I think it was the utter lack of a single relate-able Austenesque plot that compromised my ability to enjoy this novel. If the author had selected a one work and used that as the framework for the rest, the whole might have seemed more coherent. For example, Mansfield Park and Northanger Abbey both feature characters separated from their families and their progression from relative innocents to maturity. Northanger Abbey would have been particularly apt given Catherine Morland’s fascination with Gothic novels.

AUTHOR: Katherine Reay

RATING: DNF

GENRE: Fiction

Disclaimer: ARC was kindly provided by the publisher for an honest review. 

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Is Anyone Immune to the Romance of Pride and Prejudice?

Cropped screenshot of Laurence Olivier from th...
Cropped screenshot of Laurence Olivier from the trailer for the film Pride and Prejudice. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This blogger may be my long lost BBC television series twin, having watched Andrew Davies version of Pride and Prejudice so many times I swear my then infant daughter responded to the theme music.  I may just reblog this so I remember to watch “The Lizzie Bennett Diaries” alone as I have seen and own all the rest.

Miss Elaineous

“You pierce my soul. I’m half agony, half hope. Tell me not that I’m too late. […] For you alone I think and plan.”

–Captain Wentworth, in the best-loved love-letter of all time in Jane Austen’s ‘Persuasion’.

 

Do you ever feel that you’re an anachronism? That you’d rather have been born in a time and place where romance was simpler and yet more complex than now? I get that whenever I watch or read period romances. Like I’ve been doing for the past few days. I started with ‘The Lizzie Bennet Diaries’, moved on to ‘Lost in Austen‘, then watched all the four episodes of BBC’s adaptation of ‘North and South’, got worm-holed (my friend V’s expression, I hope you don’t mind me borrowing, V!) into watching my favorite scenes of ‘Emma’ (Jonny Lee Miller playing the gorgeously correct Mr. Knightly), and rounded up by watching Ciaran Hind…

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