I wanted to write a review where I had the time and space to write about this book. My Goodreads review was fairly sweet and to the point so I wanted to expand a bit.
I work at an independent bookstore and a good portion of the time I am there I “recover” the Travel,History, Sciences, and Religion sections. For the most part, it is my area of expertise. I stumbled across Dear Mr. Knightley in the Christian fiction area and as I am a huge Austen fan I grabbed it to flip through. I should say I am a bit surprised at myself because Emma and Mansfield Park are tied for my least favorite Austen novel. Definitely not my cuppa tea those two. Well, I started flipping through it and it thought it was 100% shelved incorrectly. So, I did what I assume every bibliophile would do. I checked it out from the library and set out to prove them wrong.
Clearly, I wasn’t in a good mind set when I started reading it. As much as I hate to admit it, I almost felt like I was “half listening” to the text and was just intent on proving my point. In my defense though, a good chunk of it was rather slow and boring.
Anyways, I am glad I started paying attention. I won’t explain the whole plot (I linked the Goodreads page for you to check out above) but the book is written in letter format. It’s written by the main character and it’s almost as if we’re reading her diary. In fact, it’s exactly like that. The relationship she sets up with the faceless ” Mr. Knightley” is a safe place for her to share all of her innermost thoughts. The book, in comparison to others in Christian Fiction, is not the same at all. I still stand by my assurance that it was incorrectly shelved. My God was it good though.
Sam Moore loves books, and she uses them to hide from reality… a lot. When a benefactor agrees to sponsor her in a Journalism/News writing program (not her first choice as a grad program) he has one stipulation, Sam must write him letters updating him on her life/how the program is going. He would never respond back to her and in a way created a “safe place” for her to share her feelings. At first, I found this pretty creepy. Then I thought about my blog. I know (or hope!) people outside of my family are reading this and I am laying most of my feelings bare for people to read. That and her use of books as a defense mechanism is where the similarities between Sam and I end but that was enough for me. She re reads books like its her job and loves the comfort she finds in them. People are complicated, books (for the most part) have happy endings or conclusions. They end, you know the outcome, and you can revisit the emotions you felt during that time over and over again. I love that an author mentioned books can be a savior for some people, I know it was for me. (This again kinda proves me point above)
This book has brought back a lot of old feelings for me. I’ve been lovingly teased time and time again about not seeing _______ film or not going to _______. I guess a small part of me will always feel “left out” that I didn’t get to participate in A, B, or C event. This book reassured me though that I got to “live more than one life, in more than one place.” A girl stuck at home does not have too many options available to her and books were easy, they were cheap, they allowed me, most importantly, TO ESCAPE. Until a person goes through something as seemingly never ending as I did, you do not know how precious the ability to escape somewhere, even for a few minutes, can mean. It can save you from yourself.
I wish I could say at the end of this I would have a chance meeting with a famous author that was madly in love with me and my writing style (hahahaha) but for the time being, I love being able to chat with you all.
Oh! To conclude the review of the text itself, the ending. The ending, while cheesy and romantic, was odd to read. We’ve spent this whole time living in this world through the eyes of Sam. Well, the end suddenly switches to this nameless narrator who fills in the pieces we’ve all been waiting for. It’s a bit odd and takes you away from the book a bit.