My Oxford Year
by Julia Whelan
Published April 24, 2018
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. [goodreads]
To start, this book had everything I look for in a summer read: romance, adventure, an and a hot guy with a sexy accent.
For the first half of the book, I was all in: quirky American girl arrives in England and has an awkward meet-cute in a fish & chips shop. She is torn between pursuing her degree in England (on a Rhodes Scholarship, of course) and the job offer of her dreams back in the US working on a presidential campaign.
I enjoyed Ella’s ambition and humor but felt that her passion for the political campaign job never shone through the pages. She would tell us that she wanted to work on the campaign, but I never really felt it. The only times that plot was really mentioned were when Ella’s boss would randomly call, presumably to remind us that the plot line even existed. If not for random little reminders, I would have completely forgotten about it.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as I was much more interested in the developing romance between Ella and Jamie, but at times it felt unnecessary to the overall story.
About halfway through the book, something is revealed that changes the entire course of the novel. I won’t even hint at what it is because it would be a major spoiler, but I guarantee you will never see it coming. It was so out of the blue that it felt less like a plot twist and more like I suddenly started reading a brand new novel.
As the second half of the novel continued on, I honestly lost interest. The book felt like it had taken such a complete turn that I was no longer interested in the story. This was quite unfortunate as I really enjoyed the first half and would have liked to see a different ending.
It wans’t terrible by any means, but it was just not what I signed up for when I began the book. I think I would have really enjoyed the book more if I had an idea of what would happen in the second half, so that I could decide in advance if that was something I wanted to read about.
All in all, I enjoyed the writing style and the Oxford University setting. I do recommend looking up spoilers before you decide to read this one, as I think the benefit of knowing what you’re getting into outweighs the spoiler aspect in this case.
Have you read MY OXFORD YEAR? If so, what did you think about the total plot twist?
MY OXFORD YEAR is available now! Please support Julia Whelan by purchasing a copy at your local book store.