My Oxford Year

My Oxford Year

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 li...

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Title:My Oxford Year
Author:Julia Whelan
Rating:
Edition Language:English

My Oxford Year Reviews

  • Christie«SHBBblogger»

    My Oxford Year

    Standalone

    Julia Whelan

    April 24, 2018

    No

    Sometimes you just get a gut feeling about a book, and that's what happened when I came across

    After seeing the adorable cover and reading the blurb, the entire package was calling to me and screaming READ ME in neon lights. I'm usually hesitant with new/unfamiliar authors, but I instictively took the leap of faith in this case, and it paid o

    My Oxford Year

    Standalone

    Julia Whelan

    April 24, 2018

    No

    Sometimes you just get a gut feeling about a book, and that's what happened when I came across

    After seeing the adorable cover and reading the blurb, the entire package was calling to me and screaming READ ME in neon lights. I'm usually hesitant with new/unfamiliar authors, but I instictively took the leap of faith in this case, and it paid off handsomely.

    I'm not going to lie and say that I wasn't hesitant or cautious because of the blurb's comparison to JoJo Moyes and Nicholas Sparks. I love angst, but I don't want to have my heart ripped out of my chest and splintered into tiny pieces at the end of a book. If there's going to be sadness, I want it to have purpose and meaning, but overall a feeling of thankfulness that I went along for the journey. That's exactly what happened with this story. Ella learns valuable and life altering lessons during her year at Oxford. Not just for the sake of the man she loves, but for her own growth as a woman trying to find her footing in the world.

    The narrative is sharp, witty, and easily draws you into the story. Julia Whelan's knowledge of Oxford bled through everything, saturating Ella as she joyfully experienced the University and the beautiful city brimming with opportunity. The city seen through her eyes is just as exciting as she had anticipated all her life, but it gifted her so much more than she could've imagined. It was more than a checkmark on her to-do list, it was a place of knowledge and discovering her purpose. Of slowing down, and savoring the moments and

    that mattered.

    Ella has been a planner and an overachiever all of her life. Intelligent, driven, and single-minded in her pursuit of a career and success. Along the way, personal relationships have been a casualty of her focus, but she doesn't pause too long to think about that. If it saves her from messy entanglements that will distract her or eventually bring heartache, all the better. She soon learns that all of her planning and preparations for her year abroad will all amount to naught. Life throws curveballs, and you must learn to adapt and grow, sometimes altering the fabric of your beliefs and ideals during the difficult process.

    It was on her first day in England when she would meet (and instantly dislike) Jamie Davenport. After a bad first impression that had them exchanging snark and cutting barbs, she would have been happy to never set eyes on him again. Unfortunately, she discovers that the audacious stranger that she crossed paths with is none other than the man stepping in to teach her English lit course. She thinks she can ace the class with her knowledge base and impersonal analyzations, but he helps her examine poetry with the power of her emotions. They have fascinating nuanced philosophical chats, oftentimes inspired by poetry or history. Though their attraction flared quick, it was their friendship that developed and grew solid even quicker. Despite the cultural diversity between them, they feel like they are almost like two sides of the same coin. Understanding and connecting to each other at a fundamental level so effortlessly.

    The story wouldn't have the same impact if it wasn't for Jamie. His brilliance and insight made him special, but his sense of humor and the purity of his heart will completely win you over. I loved his total unselfishness in trying to shield Ella from hurt, but also the ways in which he showed her how her happiness meant more to him than his own. He was everything. That's why one of the things that affected me the most was his broken relationship with his father, and the hurt that miscommunication has brought on the entire family. They were all living with so much pain, and I felt every bit of the ache as they tried to find a way to bridge the gap.

    I powered through the charming first half of the book, lulled into a false sense of security. The further I read, the more confidence built that I would make it through to the end without falling apart. My strategy was simple: try to remain slightly emotionally removed, and when the time comes, it would be like ripping off a band-aid. Quick and painless. Well, like Ella, I discovered that not all things will conform to strategy. Suddenly in the last 20% of the book, I was leaking like a broken faucet, and desperation had firmly taken hold. I needed a light to guide me out of the darkness. and I think that the author pulled me through it flawlessly. I left the book feeling at peace, and better for having read it. Ella and Jamie will stay with me for a long time to come.

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  • Astrid - The Bookish Sweet Tooth

    You know how our expectations are sometimes too high? Or, you expect something completely different and get something else and it's even better than what you were anticipating? It's the best feeling when a book does that. My Oxford Year surprised me, it totally blindsided me. Although I read the blurb it kind of slipped that it was compared to JoJo Moyes and Nicholas Sparks. Anyway, let me tell you about this sparkling little gem that is My Oxford Year.

    When Ella arrives in Oxford, jetlagged and,

    You know how our expectations are sometimes too high? Or, you expect something completely different and get something else and it's even better than what you were anticipating? It's the best feeling when a book does that. My Oxford Year surprised me, it totally blindsided me. Although I read the blurb it kind of slipped that it was compared to JoJo Moyes and Nicholas Sparks. Anyway, let me tell you about this sparkling little gem that is My Oxford Year.

    When Ella arrives in Oxford, jetlagged and, you know, a little freaked, the way you are when you are alone in a foreign country, her first encounters with Jamie leave her riled up, annoyed and...a tiny bit intrigued. When she finds out that he will be her professor for the term she doesn't see good things in their future. But a chance run-in on a night out in town is a complete game changer and this is where the fun starts.

    Jamie and Ella are both highly intelligent characters. It's not just that the author says so, no, the way they talk to each other, the banter, their long conversations about poetry, Julia Whelan shows us that these are super-smart people. Their weapon of choice is a sharp tongue that can cut deep. Mostly used in humor though, I loved their witty retorts and comebacks so much and it's a testament to the author's own intelligence and wit. I want to be BFFs with Julia Whelan.

    Jamie has this wonderfully dry humor that so resonates with me. He is kind, brave and endearing with his little quirks and I fell head over heels in love with him. He is the kind of complicated that makes a man charismatic. He is a contradicting mix of calm and storm and his tenderness is heart-achingly sweet.  Jamie is unforgettable and will always hold a special place in my heart. Ella from Ohio is his American equivalent. There was one situation I felt my face getting red from anger because Ella acted cruelly but she came through in a big way so she had my forgiveness in the end.

    Their connection is made of dislike and explosive chemistry from the get-go but these are equals on the battlefield of words. The combative basis of their relationship morphs soon into respect and affection, then love.

    This author describes Oxford in vivid pictures, I could see Ella ride her bike through the streets of this charming town. Her description is a love declaration for Oxford.

    Ella's journey is one of soul searching and while you watch Jamie and Ella growing into the best people they can be this book forces you to look at your own life. It invites you to do your own soul searching to become a better version of yourself. My Oxford Year will stay with me for a long time, my heart still constricts when I think about it. Julia Whelan intersperses a ton of humor so that the sadder parts don't feel depressing. I really appreciate that - I love my angst but I don't want to be overwhelmed with it. The story ends with a message that we all should take to heart - live today, live and love like there is no tomorrow. Life isn't about goals and targets, it's about the way to them and how you get there. And that your goals can change.

    With its intelligent prose and witty banter this book will go on my top-favorites-2018 - shelf. It made me feel, laugh and think and I can't wait to discover what else Ms Whelan has in store for us readers.

    On a related note: I just read that Sam Heughan and Melissa Benoist have been cast as Jamie and Ella - I'm in heaven.

    If you want to know more about Julia Whelan and her brand of humor read

    .

  • Carole (Carole's Random Life in Books)

    This review can also be found at

    .

    Honestly, this was fantastic! I just really loved everything about this delightful story. I know Julia Whelan from her work as a narrator so I was really curious about this book as soon as I saw it. I decided to give it a try simply because of my curiosity and didn't really know much about the book beyond my guess that it would be about someone spending a year at Oxford (nothing gets past me). This book is really so much more than th

    This review can also be found at

    .

    Honestly, this was fantastic! I just really loved everything about this delightful story. I know Julia Whelan from her work as a narrator so I was really curious about this book as soon as I saw it. I decided to give it a try simply because of my curiosity and didn't really know much about the book beyond my guess that it would be about someone spending a year at Oxford (nothing gets past me). This book is really so much more than that and I must say that I had such a good time reading this book.

    Ella is at the center of this story. Ella is from Ohio and has just made it to England to study at Oxford on a Rhodes Scholarship. To make things even better, she gets a call offering her a position to work on a presidential campaign just as she makes it to England. Things are looking up for Ella. She soon realizes that things are a little different at Oxford than she expects but she is making friends. One of her classes is being taught by the same man she had a run-in with at the fish shop on her first day in town. I do think that this a book that will really be best to go in as blindly as possible so I am going to be careful not to include any spoilers in this reviews.

    I really liked Ella. She is so driven to do well with everything she attempts but it quickly becomes obvious that she will have to make a few adjustments to succeed at Oxford. She was just such a strong character and I found her very easy to relate to. I really liked her more and more as the book progressed and thought that she grew dramatically as a character. Jamie was also great. He was more of a mystery to me at the start of the book but as I continued reading, I really fell in love with him. He was such a great guy and I thought he compliments Ella very well.

    This story made me think, it made me feel, and it even made me laugh. This book was such a joy to read. When I started reading, I thought that this was going to be one kind of story and then things changed and by the end of the book I was reading something totally different. I loved the fact that this book went in such an unexpected direction kind of like life tends to do.

    I would highly recommend this book to others. Julia Whelan has proven that she is not only great narrator but that she is also a wonderful writer. I am so glad that I had the opportunity to read this story and can't wait to read more of her work in the future.

    I loved this this. Not really sure on the final rating right now. It is either 4 or 5 stars from me but I will need to think about it a bit so I will go with 4 for now. I really didn't know a lot about this book before reading it besides the fact that it would be about someone spending a year at Oxford (nothing gets past me). It was so much more than that. It was a delight in the end. I have loved Julia Whelan's narration in the past and it looks like I enjoy her writing just as much.

  • Christy

    by Julie Whelan is a real gem of a book! It took me by surprise in the best way! I’ve listened to many audio books narrated by Ms. Whelan (she is an amazing narrator) and I’m happy to report that her writing is amazing as well. I listened to this in audio, it was narrated by her of course, an

    by Julie Whelan is a real gem of a book! It took me by surprise in the best way! I’ve listened to many audio books narrated by Ms. Whelan (she is an amazing narrator) and I’m happy to report that her writing is amazing as well. I listened to this in audio, it was narrated by her of course, and if you haven’t read yet, I have to recommend you experience this book via audio. It was made to be listened to over being read, in my opinion.

    Ella Durran is a 24 year old American who is out of the country for the first time. She is a Rhodes Scholar who is studying in Oxford. On top of that, she has just been offered a job to work on a potential presidential candidate's campaign. Her future is promising and the world is her oyster. Her first day in England, Ella meets Jamie. Their meeting left me with a huge grin on my face.

    Jamie Davenport isn’t a professor, but he’s helping out by teaching a literature class. And it’s a class Ella happens to be in. These two have such a connection, they can’t seem to stay away from each other. They decide just for the time that Ella is in England, they will be together. No strings. Then, as things always seem to do, the feelings between them start to change. The problem with this is that things are even more complicated than what they seem…

    
Ella and Jamie. Gah! I adored them both. Jamie is charming, sweet, and swoony, and Ella is witty, intelligent, and sharp. I loved them both, and even more, I loved them together. Along with the two main characters, there were a slew of wonderful secondary characters that made the story that much more interesting.

    When I saw in the blurb that this book was recommended for fans of JoJo Moyes and Nicholas Sparks, I knew it was a book I had to read. It’s a smart book that’s full of humor, charm, and of course- feels. You’ll be happy to know I didn’t cry like a baby while reading this, I may have shed a few tears, but overall, I found this uplifting and heartwarming. It was a touching story, and one that will stay with me. I give this book a full 5 stars and recommend to all lovers of romance and coming of age stories. And remember- listen to the audio if you get the chance! It’s fantastic!

  • Rachel Reads Ravenously

    This is a book that’s been getting a lot of great buzz, a lot of my book friends really loved it and I’ve been hearing good things all around. I was a fan of Julia on the show Once and Again and I had the pleasure of meeting Julia at another author event for a book she narrated and she’s absolutely lovely. All those things combined, I was very eager to read this book and really wanted to love this book and I had high hopes. And while I didn’t love it, I enjoyed it and I think this was a

    This is a book that’s been getting a lot of great buzz, a lot of my book friends really loved it and I’ve been hearing good things all around. I was a fan of Julia on the show Once and Again and I had the pleasure of meeting Julia at another author event for a book she narrated and she’s absolutely lovely. All those things combined, I was very eager to read this book and really wanted to love this book and I had high hopes. And while I didn’t love it, I enjoyed it and I think this was a really great debut from this author.

    There were a lot of moments when we as readers were supposed to feel a lot, and I felt a bit like a sociopath in those moments because I didn’t really feel anything and I knew I was meant to. Plus, a lot of the dialogue and some of the vocabulary was way above my head and I felt, well, unintelligent at moments while I was reading this book.

    I think Julia Whelan is a fantastic writer, I think she delivered a very interesting and engaging story. I also think a lot of readers will love this book and I while I didn’t love it, I will be recommending it quite a lot because I think many of my friends and close ones would really enjoy this story.

    Fans of Taylor Jenkins Reid, Jojo Moyes and Sally Thorne, this is your next book to pick up!

    Follow me on ♥

  • Melanie A.

    Soooooo . . .

    Here's the premise:

    Sounds so good, right?

    Unfortunately, despite being well-written, despite being polished until it gleame

    Soooooo . . .

    Here's the premise:

    Sounds so good, right?

    Unfortunately, despite being well-written, despite being polished until it gleamed, despite all the devastatingly clever dialogue . . .

    consisted of one

    romance novel cliché stacked upon another, upon another, upon another.

    Don't believe me? Think my heart is made of stone? Consider the following . . . (

    serious spoilers inside)

    I will admit that everything improved in the second half when the whole point of the story was revealed, but by then it was too late for me to do anything except bump the rating from a 2 to a 3.5.

    As always, take my criticism with a grain of salt. Just because I have a major sarcastic streak that makes me roll my eyes, doesn't mean that you won't find this book charming like everyone else on the planet. :-)

  • Heather 'Bookables'

    3.75

  • Jenna

    It’s not that there was anything...egregiously wrong with this, it’s just that it wasn’t what I was looking for. I grossly overshot in my quest for a *slightly*-lighter beach read. Who gives a [email protected]&k about an Oxford Comma?* - Well, I do! I’m a fairly... let’s say serious person, and I thought this book would be a beach read for People Like Me. Alas, no: it is Mr. Nicholas Sparks Goes to Oxford. It is A Walk (in Oxford) to Remember. I feel like the cover of the book, the reputation of the autho

    It’s not that there was anything...egregiously wrong with this, it’s just that it wasn’t what I was looking for. I grossly overshot in my quest for a *slightly*-lighter beach read. Who gives a [email protected]&k about an Oxford Comma?* - Well, I do! I’m a fairly... let’s say serious person, and I thought this book would be a beach read for People Like Me. Alas, no: it is Mr. Nicholas Sparks Goes to Oxford. It is A Walk (in Oxford) to Remember. I feel like the cover of the book, the reputation of the author, and the whole Oxford setting all initially masked the formulaic romance novel core of this book. And truthfully, some of the plot, dialogue, and characterizations around the whole political subplot were truly egregiously awful. In general, a lot of stereotyped characters and hard to swallow plot twists. If I weren’t on a beach vacation, I may well have written a harsher review. But, as it is...

    ...Some people claim, that there’s a “Best Beach Reads” booklist to blame,

    But I know,

    It’s my own damn fault!**

    *this is a Vampire Weekend song

    **this is a Jimmy Buffett song - duh!

    You should probably know both of these songs.

  • Maddison

    I received this book through a Goodreads Giveaway.

    I had really high hopes for "My Oxford Year," but upon finishing it, I really can't bear to give it more than a single star. Where do I even begin?

    So much of this story is unbelievable, and not in a good way. I wasn't convinced that the main character was (A) a Rhodes scholar, (B) 24-going-on-25 years old, and (C) being recruited by an American presidential candidate's team based on a single article she wrote for The Atlantic. So much of her back

    I received this book through a Goodreads Giveaway.

    I had really high hopes for "My Oxford Year," but upon finishing it, I really can't bear to give it more than a single star. Where do I even begin?

    So much of this story is unbelievable, and not in a good way. I wasn't convinced that the main character was (A) a Rhodes scholar, (B) 24-going-on-25 years old, and (C) being recruited by an American presidential candidate's team based on a single article she wrote for The Atlantic. So much of her backstory was so utterly ridiculous that I found myself rolling my eyes within the first few pages.

    Likewise, the main character, Ella Durran, is - simply put - annoying. At the beginning, the author attempts to paint Ella as an overachiever (Rhodes scholar, fulfilling her childhood dream of studying at Oxford, interested and involved in the American political system, etc.) but later in the book, there is little to no mention of her academic life at all. I was not aware, based on the title, cover design, and book blurb, that this story was going to be so focused on a love story instead of an overall study-abroad experience. To my disappointment, the characters and plot quickly descended into cliche fairly early on.

    While the author clearly attempted humor in places, it came across as cheesy and over-written. The first impression I got of both author and main character was a thinly-veiled self-obsession which, I'm sorry to say, carried throughout the entire work. It's difficult to read prose and characters who are so clearly full of themselves.

    Also, just as a quick note... the names of the characters, and the not-so-subtle Austen references, were entirely too much. "Ella" (Elizabeth) falls for the charming and wealthy intellectual "Davenport" (Darcy) but, in this case, with little of Austen's charm and none of her characters' literary grace. Give me a break.

    So many of the characters were problematic. Whelan's inclusion of the side-characters seemed more like a strategy to check representational boxes instead of writing authentic, relatable, deep characters. Ella's friends were utter caricatures: Tom, the half-Indian and aloof Brit; Cecilia, the "English Rose," as the narrator identifies her; Maggie, the shy but edgy girl who sports wild-colored hair and dresses; and Charlie, the Wilde-esque gay friend who seems like a dull carbon-copy of anything remotely resembling Oscar Wilde. Not to mention Ian, a drunken friend who shows up once and never again, as well as Connor, a well-meaning American student who is somehow completely fine with romantic rejection after taking an ungrateful and distracted Ella to London for Thanksgiving. So much of this book is unrealistic - the characters are dry and empty with little depth.

    Closure, too, was a problem for Whelan. She builds up the relationship between Ella and her mother (mostly by including bits and pieces of Ella ignoring her mother's phone calls or rudely responding to her mother's emails with one-word answers) but never draws this relationship - and its struggles - out. Like Connor, Ella's mother fades into the background without any explanation, which is strange considering

    This points to poor-planning on the part of the author.

    Also,

    That may be an unpopular opinion, but it's an oft repeated theme that does little to nothing for the depth of the story. It's been done before, many times. It was far from impressive in this work.

    The fact that this book is potentially going to be made into a movie absolutely blows my mind. I really hope that decision will be reconsidered.

    I honestly could go on and on, but I won't. The only reason this book got one star was for effort - and even then, that single star feels generous.

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