Dear Mr. Knightley

              My book club is going to think I am slightly off my rocker, and maybe they’re right, but I can’t help it. Every time I go to write a post about this book, I end up writing a letter to Mr. Knightley myself!  Who wouldn’t love the idea of a mysterious benefactor, bearing the name of a Jane Austen hero, whose one request is that you write to him? But it is more than that, isn’t it? In the end we discover that you, Mr. Knightley, were drawn to Samantha, even though you knew all her dirt. And that is why we love stories like this. Because we all desire to be loved just as we are with all of our dirt, baggage, and imperfections known. And overlooked.

               We all agreed that Samantha was not very likable in the beginning. But the story had a very real quality in that she dealt with her feelings and anger by running. We were able to see the changes happening in her through her letters. We asked questions like, “Are there people really as generous as Mr. Knightley?”, and even heard a story or two of real life generosity to match what we read. We noticed that Ashley, who at first seemed to be fake and not very deep, ended up being the friend who stuck tight to Samantha!  We wondered if you, Mr. Knightley, were anything like Jane Austen’s (or rather Emma’s) Mr. Knightley.

               I’ve been a fan of Jane Austen’s since I saw Pride & Prejudice (with the real Darcy, Colin Firth) back in 1996. I could not rest until I knew what Mr. Darcy was thinking and exactly how the change in him occurred, which of course, led me to the book. From there I went on to every other Austen novel &/or mini-series I could get my hands on!  Every time I finished a story I would think about the characters for days, or weeks. I decided the reason Jane Austen men are so appealing is that they all have Christ-like qualities. So we discussed who, in this story, was the most Christ-like?  Was it Mr. Muir who agreed to stand by Samantha even if that meant turning his back on the man who was “like his own son”?  Was it Mrs. Muir who was always giving of herself, making room for deeper discussion, and loving on people like they were her own children? Was it Father John who always had Sam’s best interest in mind, even when the decisions were tough? Or could it have even been you, Mr. Knightley, who were drawn closer to Samantha even though you knew who she really was behind the facade? Because that is what Jesus does to us, isn’t it?  Isn’t it the greatest love story ever told, that while we were yet sinners, Jesus died for us?

               All these questions lead me to this thought: We all have our own stories that we are writing. Who are we loving on in our story, and I mean really loving on? The kind of love that Samantha was surrounded by changed her world. Love that has no limits is life changing, and since we have received it ourselves, we can in turn share it with others.

               And since this is already much longer than I intended, I leave you with this verse, so timely mentioned by Bev Stitzel:  “Above all, love each other deeply, for love covers a multitude of sins.” 1 Peter 4:8.

                And isn’t that what it’s really all about?  Thank you for these profound thoughts, Mr. Knightley. I thoroughly enjoyed discussing them with my new friends, the Book Club ladies!

               I remain,

                                                                   Sincerely yours,

                                                                    Anne Shirley……. er, Julie Neal   🙂

P.S. If you have not read this book, I *highly* recommend picking it up!  It will delight you!



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