Also in this series: The Real
Published by William Morrow Paperbacks on April 24th 2018
Genres: Fiction, Coming of Age, Contemporary Romance
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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.
MY OXFORD YEAR
by Julia Whelan
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.
And if you’re not surprised by life, then what’s the bloody point?
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 resonated 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.
The hardest thing is love, with no expiration date, no qualifiers, no safety net. Love that demands acceptance of all the things I cannot change. Love that doesn’t follow a plan.
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.
I came to Oxford looking for a Once-in-a-Lifetime Experience. I chose to experience a lifetime.
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 this “interview”.