Author: Julie Whelan
Genre: Contemporary Romance
My Copy: ARC courtesy of HarperCollins
Add to: Goodreads
Synopsis: Set amidst the breathtaking beauty of Oxford, this sparkling debut novel tells the unforgettable story about a determined young woman eager to make her mark in the world and the handsome man who introduces her to an incredible love that will irrevocably alter her future—perfect for fans of JoJo Moyes and Nicholas Sparks.
American Ella Durran has had the same plan for her life since she was thirteen: Study at Oxford. At 24, she’s finally made it to England on a Rhodes Scholarship when she’s offered an unbelievable position in a rising political star’s presidential campaign. With the promise that she’ll work remotely and return to DC at the end of her Oxford year, she’s free to enjoy her Once in a Lifetime Experience. That is, until a smart-mouthed local who is too quick with his tongue and his car ruins her shirt and her first day.
When Ella discovers that her English literature course will be taught by none other than that same local, Jamie Davenport, she thinks for the first time that Oxford might not be all she’s envisioned. But a late-night drink reveals a connection she wasn’t anticipating finding and what begins as a casual fling soon develops into something much more when Ella learns Jamie has a life-changing secret.
Immediately, Ella is faced with a seemingly impossible decision: turn her back on the man she’s falling in love with to follow her political dreams or be there for him during a trial neither are truly prepared for. As the end of her year in Oxford rapidly approaches, Ella must decide if the dreams she’s always wanted are the same ones she’s now yearning for.
Having spent a year and half living abroad while I completed a Master’s Degree, it’s easy to understand why I adore books set at foreign universities especially English and Scottish universities. They give me the chance to relive my time abroad, but also pine for a time when things were a bit carefree. When I was given the opportunity to review Julie Whelan’s My Oxford Year, I couldn’t pass up the chance!
Ella Durran had a plan to attend Oxford and when her dream comes true, as a Rhodes Scholar, she has no idea her life is about to be turned upside down. Ella is a modern feminist and is very active on the political scene. Upon arriving at Oxford she gets a huge opportunity and has to make a decision: return to the US or stay at Oxford? I liked Ella, but at times I wanted her to have a little more backbone especially when it came to herself. She’s very passionate about politics and isn’t afraid to lecture people about circumstances. Then we have Jamie Davenport (and for some odd reason I kept picturing Max Brown (King Robert) from The Royals as Jamie), the “posh prat” as Ella calls him. He definitely comes from money and is obsessed with dates. I liked him and I think you will too. We also have several secondary characters that play a vital role.
What I liked about My Oxford Year were the rich descriptions Whelan used; as I read I felt as if I were there in Oxford with Ella. Reading the number of stairs Ella had to climb, made me realize how much I would suffer and really need to start working out. I also really enjoyed the witty banter between Ella and her Oxford friends. As a history nerd, I’ve longed for those types of conversations where outsiders will roll their eyes, but you and your friends will be complete finishing each others sentences where the lines came from famous books. Or where you apply a certain scene in a book to real life situation.
In the end, I wanted to love My Oxford Year, but it just fell a bit flat. The first half was a fun read and then I began to wonder how it was going to end. If Ella was working and studying at the same time, why wasn’t she doing more of that? What about her dissertation? And then…we find out Jamie’s big secret. I had no idea where the second half of the book was heading and I have to wonder if I missed any clues. Despite the ending-I admit I cried, but I wanted more characterization. I longed to know Ella and Jamie better. What made them tick? What did they love? And as I write this, I’ve decided it is okay. We’re given a glimpse of a year in the life to Ella, Jamie, and their friends. A year. And you and I know that anything can happen in the course of year. So I’ll let them keep their secrets.
If you’re a fan of JoJo Moyes and Nicholas Spark you’ll really enjoy Julie Whelan’s My Oxford Year. The book has been optioned for a film and I’ll definitely watch it if it’s released.
I have one copy of Julie Whelan’s My Oxford Year to giveaway courtesy of William Marrow. U.S only and no POBs. Good luck!
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