Julia Whelan comes to the blog today with her debut novel: one of dreams chased and challenges made with a Rhodes scholar heading to Oxford to study, spurred by a childhood promise. Please read on for my review of
My Oxford Year
Political policy writer Ella has it all: an up and coming career with a wonderful reputation, an offer from a rising political star and her year in Oxford courtesy of the Rhodes scholarship where she intends to immerse herself in literature, culture and the lectures of a renown academic. Everything in Oxford is different – the walking, the stairs, the sights and sounds: a neighbor using Wilde’s pseudonym as introduction, a never ending series of calls from the campaign- needing insight, input and even just touching base – and her mother’s increasingly frantic ‘please check in’ emails have her torn between exploration and hiding. Sure, things are different – and her first lecture is full of gaffes – no syllabus, using Oxfordian rather than Oxonion, the lecturer being a substitute – the same man who nearly ran her down in the street…..
I grabbed this title simply because Oxford (or the “Other Place”) has always fascinated me: the age, reputation, the simple ability to be where some of the eternal names of literature spent time. So I expected to enjoy the book simply because of that. And then, Whelan captured my imagination with Ella and all she was seeing: her determination to make the most of her time until she left the following June. With her flirtations with Jamie that soon morphed into more, her new friends – outrageously different and quirky, and balancing her life with school work, campaign demands and time for herself.
Highlighting Ella’s growth and understanding of herself and learning that some things are meant to be felt, not simply experienced in remove – a tactic she’s used since her father’s untimely death when she was 12. Jamie pushes her to feel the emotion in the poems – to see that everything that she is reading is of, for or about love – for it is the ultimate toll-taker – a toll that she may not be willing to see the cost of. But when her relationship with Jamie starts to solidify just as he is then asking for a break, the relationship that was no strings and honest starts to be anything but for her – and his secret is revealed. There are choices we make, and other circumstances that are thrust upon us without consent – and it’s the steps made after – scary, unknown and often emotionally costly steps that are in the way to happiness and fulfillment. All steps that Ella, in her new place with her new understanding of herself and her wants, needs and dreams must follow. Not precisely an HEA ending, but one that leaves everyone better off and richer for the experience – the story was a read in one sitting book, remembered for the lesson of love and the emotional impact.
Shape your heart to front the hour, but dream not the hour will last.
Alfred, Lord Tennyson, The Idylls of the King
Title: My Oxford Year
Author: Julia Whelan
Genre: Contemporary Woman's Fiction, Romantic Elements, Setting: Britain
Published by: William Morrow
Published on: 24 April, 2018
Source: Publisher Via Edelweiss
Audio Length: 9 Hours: 57 minutes
Heat: Get Your Copy: Amazon ♦ Barnes&Noble ♦ iTunes ♦ Kobo ♦ Downpour ♦ IndieBound ♦ Book Depository ♦ Google ♦Audible ♦Direct from Publisher
Major Motion Picture Already in Development with Temple Hill Entertainment
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.
A copy of this title was provided via Publisher Via Edelweiss for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.
Reading this book contributed to these challenges: