Thursday, May 10, 2018

Book Review: "My Oxford Year" by Julia Whelan

My Oxford Year Julia Whelan
Date Finished: May 9, 2018
Date Pubished: April 24, 2018
ISBN: 9780062740656
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Source: TLC Book Tours and HarperCollins

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.

My Thoughts:
When I was 20, I spent the summer studying at Cambridge University and it is one the fondest memories of my college career.  So, when I saw this book about someone spending a year at Oxford (yes, I know Oxford and Cambridge are not the same thing!), I jumped at the chance to read it.

Upon finishing this book, I'm of two minds.  On one hand, I found a sweet, easy read.  It's the perfect book to take on vacation.  I loved how Whelan recreated the world of Oxford, England (although I felt that world of Oxford University was a bit thin).  I recently listened to an interview with Whelan and her genuine affection for the area shows through.  The story is well-paced and the dialogue is natural and entertaining.  This may sound a little strange, but I actually heard (most) of the characters speak with a British accent in my head as I read.

So, here's the rub: While I generally enjoyed this book and the story, I felt that it just could have been...more.  I don't want to spoil anything, so I won't go into specifics other than to say that the subject matter of this book is actually rather heavy and I felt that Whelan's treatment of it was too light at times.  This is the kind of story that could suck me in emotionally, but it just never reached those heights.

I will say that I would recommend this book, with the suggestion to manage your expectations.  The matter of the story doesn't match up to the mass of the story, which is too bad...but it doesn't mean you can still enjoy a light read.

About the Author:
Julia Whelan is a screenwriter, lifelong actor, and award-winning audiobook narrator. She graduated with a degree in English and creative writing from Middlebury College and Oxford University. While she was in England, her flirtation with tea blossomed into a full-blown love affair, culminating in her eventual certification as a tea master.

Find out more about Julia at her website, and connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

I received a copy of this book in return for an honest review.  I received no other compensation for this post.

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