BLOGOVERSARY: Katherine Reay with Dear Mr. Knightley

Welcome to another feature for my Blogoversary! 

If you've missed any of the other Blogoversary posts, you can find the schedule with links to each one here.

Today I'm welcoming Katherine Reay to my blog who wrote one of my favorite books from last year, Dear Mr. Knightley (you can see my review here). I cannot recommend this book enough!! I'm really looking forward to her next book as well, Lizzy and Jane, which comes out in October.

Dear Mr. KnightleyDear Mr. Knightley
by Katherine Reay
November 5th 2013 by Thomas Nelson Publishers


Samantha Moore has always hidden behind the words of others—namely her favorite characters in literature. Now, she will learn to write her own story—by giving that story to a complete stranger.

Growing up orphaned and alone, Sam found her best friends in the works of Austen, Dickens, and the Brontë sisters. The problem is that she now relates to others more comfortably as Elizabeth Bennet and Jane Eyre than as herself.
Sometimes we lose ourselves in the things we care about most.

But life for this twenty-three-year-old is about to get stranger than fiction, when an anonymous benefactor (calling himself “Mr. Knightley”) offers to put Sam through the 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 program and peers force her to confront her past, she finds safety in her increasingly personal letters to Mr. Knightley. And when Sam meets eligible, best-selling novelist Alex Powell, those letters unfold a story of love and literature that feels as if it’s pulled from her favorite books. But when secrets come to light, Sam is – once again – made painfully aware of how easily trust can be broken.

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.


Guest Post
by Katherine Reay

The MC in Dear Mr. Knightley, Sam, uses classic literature to hide behind. I have asked Katherine to have Sam share some tips in what classic literature works best in certain situations and what some of Katherine's favorite moments were from the book. Enjoy! :)

I am thrilled to be here and share a little of Dear Mr. Knightley and Samantha Moore. A character that hides behind other characters? There is so much room for fun in that… And that’s what Samantha Moore does and I did enjoy bringing this quirk to the page.

Here are few favorites as she explains them to Mr. Knightley and to us (these descriptions are not in the book, but I’m sure this is how she feels):

Uncomfortable at a party: Mix a bit of flirtatious Lydia Bennet with a bit of older sister Jane. Odd combination; but the brazen and obtuse, paired with a touch of shy and demure, totally works – it confuses and interests. It's gotten odious Logan off my case a few times. Marianne Dashwood works better with Josh. To each his own, I guess.

Don't know what advice to give: Charlotte Lucas and Jane Eyre can't fail you. Both moral yet pragmatic. Fanny Price never goes over well. I tried her on one of Ashley's problems recently and got “Are you for real?” in reply. It was not what I was going for.

Someone puts you down: Edmond Dantes. He's impenetrable and has an amazing aura of sophistication and superiority. I love him. He's only failed me once. He wasn't up to Mrs. Walker in Palm Beach; but I try not to blame him.

Feeling generally lost and insecure: Emma Woodhouse. Need I say more? She doesn't know such feelings exist.

And last but never least, Lizzy Bennet. Her vivacity, intelligence and wit are appropriate for any situation, but she has more courage than I do so I only reach for her on special occasions.

And while Sam does love each of these characters – as a orphan herself – she relates most closely to Jane Eyre and, in this scene from the book, she describes how she uses Jane to help her during the Chicago Marathon:

In the past, I usually escape into Jane Eyre. I replay her struggle leaving Thornfield Hall, her months living with her cousins and her final return to Mr. Rochester. I run the scenes over and over in my mind because I love her courage, her decisions and her voice. I love her stamina.

There’s a lot Sam loves about these characters, but to find her own voice she must lay them down. Here are a few of my favorite lines, pulled from her letters, describing that process… In fact, you almost have her entire emotional journey laid out in 14 moments.

Every foster placement of my childhood was intended to help me; every new social worker tried to help my case; when I was sent back home at twelve, the judge meant to help my life too… I am so tired of help.

I know I’ve said more than was necessary in this letter, but I need you to know who I am. We need to have an honest beginning, even if it’s less impressive than Lizzy Bennet’s.

If you are truly a “Mr. Knightley,” I can do this. I can write these letters.

If I can conquer Medill and journalism, then maybe I can achieve “normal” and actually like what I do – write for a living. Maybe this is the great leap that will work.

Clearly my comfort zone doesn’t stretch far, because I’ve enjoyed these letters far more than anything, and I will never know you or the color of your eyes.

A lot of things happen below the surface, don’t you think? A jab, a deflection, a hit then pain – all hidden beneath exquisite manners and an aura of sophistication. There’s a little Edmond Dantes in all of us, I guess.

(talking about her characters) They can’t save me. They certainly can’t write for me. Heck, they don’t even show up like the used to. And when they do, they don’t fit inside comfortably. They jar me and leave me feeling more disconnected and alone. But without them, who am I?

We started editing our lives and thoughts down to the essentials: what we felt others need to see, and what we knew we could no longer carry.

There have been people and events, even small ones that slip past my memory like a shadow, that have been good and whole and right in my life. How can I focus on those?

I run until I find myself. Sometimes it takes just a few miles and I know. Other times it takes ten to fifteen, even more, but I know when it happens. It’s peaceful and I feel whole and strong and nothing can touch or hurt the real me.

And now I hurt. Alex was like those dreams I told you about – the ones that disappear if I hold them too tight.

I try to stick to the people I now love. And I press, push, and pursue my work. But I still don’t measure up. What if I’m not what the Muirs want? What if they tire of the burden? Everyone else always has.

Thank you, Mr. Knightley. As I count big dreams that slipped away, I need to remember that you stuck.

And, Mr. Knightley, forget my theory about Icarus. If you don’t sail high, with the risk of crashing and burning, do you really live? Can you love? I doubt it. I’m ready to fly.

Thank you again for letting me share my love for literature, Sam and Dear Mr. Knightley with you… And, Tressa, Happy Blogoversary! 

Thank you, Katherine, for taking the time to share these with us!

For those interested, Dear Mr. Knightley will be at a special price on February 22nd for the Nook Daily Deal. Amazon normally matches those, so it should be at a great price for Kindle as well.

About the Author

Katherine ReayKatherine Reay has enjoyed a life-long affair with the works of Jane Austen and her contemporaries. After earning degrees in history and marketing from Northwestern University, she worked as a marketer for Proctor & Gamble and Sears before returning to school to earn her MTS. Her works have been published in "Focus on the Family" and the "Upper Room." Katherine currently lives with her husband and three children in Seattle. "Dear Mr. Knightley" is her first novel.

You can find Katherine here:

The first giveaway is for US Continental entrants ONLY and this is what you can win:
- A copy of Bound by Prophecy and Shifting Fate by Melissa Wright + Prize Pack
- ARC of The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith
- Copy of Dear Mr. Knightley by Katherine Reay
- Copy of Meant to be Mine (releasing in April and will be delivered then) by Becky Wade
- Copy of After Hello + Swag
- Copy of Pivot Point or Split Second by Kasie West (winner's choice)
- Signed paperback of Echo in Time by C.J. Hill
- ARC of Friends and Traitors by C.J. Hill
- Signed copy of The Art of Wishing or Signed ARC of The Fourth Wish by Lindsay Ribar (winner's choice)

The second giveaway is for International entrants ONLY.
- One book by a participating Blogoversary author (authors listed on the schedule above) of $15 USD or less from the Book Depository (winner's choice). Book Depository must ship to you for free to be eligible.
- ebook (Kindle or Nook) of Dear Mr. Knightley
- ebook (Kindle or Nook) of Slayers by C.J. Hill

All my usual requirements apply.
Ends February 28th.

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