Dear Mr. Knightley…

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A while back I confessed to you my love for all things written. Over the years I’ve read more books than I can count, much less remember and if I were asked what my favorite book was, I would have a difficult time answering. I might could tell you some of my top 20 but narrowing it down from there would just be futile. Our conversation would go something like this:

You: “So what’s your favorite book?”

Me: “The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseiniyeah, that’s it. No, no it has to be Savannah by Eugenia Price… well maybe Sister Mary Margaret or Quaker Summer by Lisa Samson or Beach Music by Pat Conroy. Oh wait, it’s got to be the Mark of the Lion Series by Francine Rivers or Wrapped in Rain by Charles Martin. No, it is definitely The Historian, no Pillars of the Earth or Steven King’s 11/22/63. Yeah, I can’t name just one favorite.”

Until TODAY.

                My Ansley sent me a book. Nothing special because she sends me lots of books but this book had an interesting name to say the least. So I promptly put it on the shelf and forgot about it (Oops!!) Until the other day, I pulled if off the shelf and, no lying, 8 hours later I was finished. It was so much more than I expected and nothing like I ever dreamed it would be after reading the back of the book. I could relate on so many levels and none of them the obvious ones. It pulled me in like very few books ever have and I simply got lost in it. Those people became my friends and I rejoiced when they rejoiced, cried when they cried and it was so bittersweet to see them go.

Now I don’t want to build it up too much because then no matter how good it is, you will be disappointed. And if I’m being truthful, this book may mean nothing to you. You may read it and simply be underwhelmed. I’m okay with that. That is also when I realize again how much I love this book because while I want you to read it and love it, even if you don’t… I still do.

Isn’t that why writers write? To change us, move us, make us more aware of who we really are? To show us a flaw in our character that no one else could point out to us and remain in our life? To let us see if only for a moment who we could really be if we only believe in ourselves and are completely honest with those we love? To challenge us, push us and, dare I say, better us? I don’t read so these things will happen but when they do it is a gift. I read to relax, get away, learn and even to occupy my mind when I’m worried. So when a book like this comes along and I close it knowing I’ve learned something unexpected about myself? That to me makes it a GREAT book.

So, do yourself a favor and go to your local bookstore today and purchase Dear Mr. Knightley by Katherine Reay. This may be the first book she has ever written, but friends I can promise you if we are fortunate, it won’t be her last.

 ***Just to be clear, even though I was given this book for free, I have not been paid to read it, write about it or love it! I am nothing if not honest when it comes to books. After all, they were my first love.

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Thank You Mr. Conroy

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We’ve covered the fact that I am a voracious reader before in this post https://wenreeve.wordpress.com/2013/10/08/true-confession/ and while I am a fan of many I’ve never really been a “groupie” of any author but when I heard that Mr. Conroy was going to be in Nashville speaking and signing his new book “Death of the Great Santini” I knew I would move heaven and earth to be there!

My Ansley introduced me to Mr. Conroy when we first met in 2006. You should know that hands down he is her FAVORITE author of all time and has been since she was in her teens. At her recommendation, my first book by Mr. Conroy was “The Water is Wide” and I knew right away that it was love. Mr. Conroy writes in a way no one else even comes close to in my mind. He takes me so deep into the story that I find myself taking on the feelings and struggles of the characters in the book and literally become so wrapped up in them that I struggle to walk away. There is no way I can read his books back to back because I get so involved that I border on morose and know for sure my family would never put up with me like that! If you have never read Mr. Conroy, shame on you. He is a prolific southern gentleman, scholar and writer of prose who pulls from deeply personal struggles in every book. His gift is such that I feel intimately acquainted with each and every character in his books. In my mind I have walked where they walked, ate what they ate and lived their life with them.

Amazingly, not only was Mr. Conroy going to be interviewed about his new book (by Ann Patchett no less- WHAT?!?!) but he was going to sign books afterward. Y’all, I would have been fine just to hear the interview. He. Was. Amazing. Like Ann Patchett said in the interview, “Pat, you write in such a way that we fall in love with a man you hated simply because of your compassion.” Mr. Conroy had us alternately laughing and crying over and over all in the space of an hour. He is bright, funny, charming and lights up when he talks about his family and his books. Then he went into the lobby of the auditorium and singed books for anyone who wanted one for over two hours (I say over two hours because that’s how long we waited and there were more after us!!) When it was your turn, he not only introduced himself to you personally, he looked you in the eye and shook your hand as if you were the only person in the room!!! Then he quietly talked with you while he signed your books. OH MY GOODNESS!!!

It was a night I will always remember and he is a man I will never forget. Mr. Conroy, thank you for being exactly what your mother wanted you to be, a quintessential southern gentleman through and through.