Dear Mr. Knightley
Puterbaugh, Dolores T., USA TODAY
BY KATHERINE REAY
2013, 336 PAGES, $15.99 (PAPERBACK)
Dear Mr. Knightly easily is dismissed as either one more Jane Austen knockoff, feeding off the Cult of Austen (of which I am a member), or an interesting--and sometimes maddening hybrid-of modern, self-absorbed chick lit; a sly challenge to find all the allusions to great English literature; an implausible, albeit lovely, plot with a nod to William Shakespeare (as well as Austen and the Bronte sisters); and, finally, an intriguing exploration of 23-year-old Sam's maturation and healing process from a childhood of abuse and neglect.
I will not deprive readers of the fun of identifying all the various elements borrowed from great British authors. That is a valid enough reason for a good book discussion group to read this tome. For those interested in the psychological aspects of the book, there is much to appreciate. Sam is a lonely, unhappy child finding a safer existence within the life of the imagination; she avoids emotional contact via presenting aspects of characters that seem to fit the needs of the situation. This allows her to maintain the rigid interpersonal boundaries that made perfect sense in the world of battering abuse and neglect of her childhood and teen years. …