Tuesday, November 5, 2013

We Interrupt this Book Launch for Two Important Literary Messages

First things first: today is the launch date for a recent favorite read of mine, Dear Mr. Knightley!

I met author Katherine Reay this summer and was excited to read and advance copy of her epistolary, Daddy Longlegs-inspired novel, which I've been waiting to post about until you all could order it yourselves. I loved this book! Which is saying something since, those of you who know me know I am not the World's Biggest Fan of epistolary novels. It's why I abandoned Where Did You Go, Bernadette after a "chapter" and why I faded from that book with the Guinness-World-Record-length title...something about potato peels and societies somewhere. (Smirk.)

But, as I was saying, I loved this book:
For a novel with a pink, froufrou cover (which I am not knocking--I love it), this book packs a powerful emotional punch.

Samantha Moore has grown up in the foster care system, keeping people at arm's length, hiding in books, and spouting her favorite characters' lines and borrowing their personas as circumstances dictate. But now, having lost her first real job at Ernst & Young for failing to connect with others, she finds herself the recipient of a unique foundation grant: she can pursue a journalism Masters at NWU, all expenses paid, as long as she keeps the grantor apprised of her career in letters.

Shades of Daddy Longlegs!

Along her journey Samantha has to figure out how to trust and open up, how to mend fences, how to date (eek!), and how to find her writing voice and, by extension, herself. It's all beautifully done and surprisingly frank and tough. I will never understand how Christian fiction is fine treating on all sorts of horrors (like what happens to many foster children in real life and in this book), but balks at profanity. Quite mystifying. But despite the amazingly clean language of all involved in the book, author Reay depicts very real, very rounded, and very sympathetic characters, living in an all-to-real world. Was the "hero" too good to be true? Probably, but I'm sure everyone will be quite able to get over it. I sure was.

The quotes and allusions to all your favorite books are delightful. I swear Reay has been checking out my own personal bookshelf or has been a fly on the wall at our book club. Speaking of book clubs, I'm going to push this one on mine!

In other news, 

This Friday is the 10th Annual BelPres Literary Night. From 6:45-8:15 p.m., Scott and I will be talking Money. As in "Money Makes the World Go 'Round." And we'll be focusing on The Merchant of Venice, Dickens' Oliver Twist, and Edith Wharton's The Custom of the Country. Will there be video clips? Absolutely! Read-alouds? Uh-huh! Witty banter from the couple who just forgot their 19th wedding anniversary until Facebook reminded Christina? Uh...probably not. But it should be great fun all the same. Bring a friend and a freewill offering for the church library.

Hope to see many of you!

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