Thursday, December 5, 2013

Dear Mr. Knightley: A Novel

Jane Austen in Northanger Abbey noted that a novel is "some work in which the greatest powers of the mind are displayed, in which the most thorough knowledge of human nature, the happiest delineation of its varieties, the liveliest effusions of wit and humour, are conveyed to the world in the best-chosen language.”

This along with the pleasure so many have reading them has led her own books to inspire a range of volumes as well (and at least one movie, Clueless). A book referencing a character from Austen's Emma suggests this too is one of that character. Mixing in a bit of a Dickens touch, this tale is about an orphan who gets a chance to Northwestern University’s prestigious Medill School of Journalism via scholarship. In return, she has to write to her beneficator, who is going by, yes, Mr. Knightley. Shades of "The Education of Samantha Moore." It's a nice device though extensive epistolary novels (letters) do personally bore me after awhile. The importance here is the nature of the character and the interest held in their stories. Here, we see the development of Ms Moore's character, which as Austen fans know, is a key theme in her novels as well.

Others note that this seems to be in the style of an old novel, but really -- lots of things are modeled on other things. We need to judge the book itself, not how it stands against some novel from when the Titanic went down (in real life!). On that level, it's a pretty good read. Judge for yourself.

This book was obtained free from Book Sneeze in return for this review.

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