Told in an epistolary format, Dear Mr. Knightley chronicles the dreams and pitfalls of Samantha Moore, whose love for 19th century literature has given her a wall behind which to hide from her chance at a real, modern life. The language is lovely, reminiscent of a polite, gentle society that no longer seems to exist. This is not surprising considering the protagonist is a huge fan of Jane Austen and her contemporaries, despite the fact that she lives in Chicago in the present. Maybe not so much a fan as a secret resident of Austen's worlds. Or stalker-y kind of obsessive. One of those. In any case, Sam has managed to hide herself in her books to the point where it stops her from interacting in a real way with the people around her or even in her own writing. When the mysterious Mr. George Knightley offers her a scholarship to journalism school, Sam's life slowly begins to unravel, and revealing herself to Mr. Knightly in the letters required of her scholarship eventually allows her to reveal herself to others.
It would be possible to make an argument that no one in this day and age could possible be as innocent and naive as Sam, but I think the author is trying to illustrate the beauty of a time gone by, and perhaps use it as a way of demonstrating the need all of us have to come out from behind our walls.With tones of romance, comedy, family, social commentary, and human expression, Dear Mr. Knightley is a beautiful modern-day regency.