This book review of My Oxford Year by Julia Whelan gives you the details of an emotionally satisfying and smart romance book. It’s one of the top books I most often recommend.
And because this is a book pairings blog “where books meet lifestyle,” I have also provided some tips from the book and recommended pairings for further learning.
Review of My Oxford Year
[She] came to Oxford looking for a Once-in-a-Lifetime Experience. [She] chose to experience a lifetime.
Prior to reading My Oxford Year, I heard it described as “smart chick lit.” I thought, “Hmm. I think I can get into that.” Having read it, I would agree with the sentiment. It started out quirky and fun, and in the middle, it got cheesy and oozy with lovey-doveyness, but then it ends with a thoughtful and emotional oomph, which is sort of what you may have expected, but not quite. And splashed throughout are excerpts of pretty poetry. That’s what made this book more special than the usual “chick lit.”
My Oxford Year follows 24-year-old Ella Durran on, you guessed it, her year accomplishing her dream of studying literature on a Rhodes Scholarship at the prestigious Oxford University in England. She temporarily walks away from a career in politics working for a female presidential candidate to pursue this lifelong dream.
Along the way, she meets a few colorful and idiosyncratic friends with British accents that could have been straight out of Bridget Jones’ Diary (I listened to the Audible version, read by the author, who is a very popular audiobook narrator), as well as her young, pretentious professor, Jamie Davenport, also known not so lovingly as the “posh brat.”
Soon enough, despite that which makes Jamie unlikable, Ella and Jamie become “teacher/student with benefits.” It’s just a physical thing, and Ella already has her Oxford year, including holidays, planned out. Her plane ticket back to D.C. at the end of her Oxford Year is officially booked, and a job is waiting for her. Besides that, Jamie is known as a “three dates” kind of guy around town. So, she doesn’t take this whole thing too seriously.
Whelan allows the reader to fill in a lot of the spaces between the lines, including during some physical scenes between the couple. And I found it to be more powerful, smart and sexy to simply draw my own conclusions.
Plus, for all the book nerds like me out there, literature and love are carefully woven together throughout this novel.
As the story progresses, Jamie tells Ella a lie and deeper secrets are revealed. Cue the tears.
Living her lifelong dream at Oxford wasn’t exactly what Ella expected, and it’s unclear whether that was for better or for worse. Sometimes, life is like that.
The story goes places both expected and unexpected, and Ella is forced to make a life-altering choice. Of her choice, she says:
It turns out, the act of making a choice, of choosing a path, doesn’t mean the other path disappears. It just means that it will forever run parallel to the one you’re on. It means you have to live with knowing what you gave up.
I found this to be an interesting observation.
I won’t give away the ending, but I will say I thought it was both satisfying and not satisfying, and as an avid reader who demands “more,” I appreciated that. And I am left wanting more.
Books like My Oxford Year
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I sincerely hope this book review of My Oxford Year by Julia Whelan inspires you to pick up this emotional, but satisfying, love story, or another book like it.
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