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My Oxford Year by Julia Whelan

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Happy Thursday, My Lovelies!  This week I read My Oxford Year by Julia Whelan.  I chose this book for nostalgic reasons because I was an exchange student and attended Balliol College with several of my friends.  I was happily surprised that Whelan mentions Balliol and the three Anglican Martyrs' Memorial located there.

About My Oxford Year

• Paperback: 352 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (April 24, 2018)

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.

Julia Whelan is a tea master so these photos are in honor of her.
How awesome is that!!!

My review:

In Whelan's Acknowledgments, she states that this novel is based upon an original screenplay.  She was hired to write the novel because she attended Oxford University, and like Ella the main character, she could give a unique perspective as an American who "read" (because at Oxford students read, not study) literature and creative writing there.  I enjoyed all the mentions of many of the sites around Oxford I remember.  Whelan does a remarkable job describing Oxford, and not just the physical place, but also the history, mood, and atmosphere of the university.  I enjoyed reading about the traditions, too.

Also, I love the adorable cover with the bike rider on the bridge and the couple punting on the Isis; it's so charming.  (But maybe I should've paid a bit more attention to the blurb that compares the book to JoJo Moyes and Nicholas Sparks.)  Without spelling it out, you probably know to what I'm referring.  Ella has a group of friends who are quirky and fun, and I'm disappointed in Ella's lack of romance toward Jamie as she counts down her departure time once her year of academic study is over.

At first, this novel reads like chick lit because Ella has a wonderful job as a presidential campaign consultant based mostly on a study she conducted about the importance of art education.  She's able to work remotely from Oxford as she fulfills her childhood dream to study at the university as a Rhodes scholar.  Then she has a cute-meet with a dashing if not obnoxious Brit in a fish and chips fry shop who ends-up being one of her lecturers.  Then the next thing you know they fall drunkenly into bed together and we know this because Ella wakes up to Professor Jamie's exiting her bathroom dressed in yesterday's clothes...and the reader gets none of the sexy bits, so this book isn't quite a romance novel.  ;P

When the reader discovers Jamie's life-changing secret, it becomes much more literary.  Julia Whelan does a wonderful job with the novel, and I wonder if the literary allusions and quotes are from the screenplay or from Whelan because they are most excellent, and they add so much to the narrative.  Nevertheless, I think this is a well-written novel, but it's not a lighthearted read as the cover might suggest.  I can't wait for the movie!


Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Photo by Kei Moreno

About Julia Whelan

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.

Disclosure:  I received an ARC of My Oxford Year from the publisher via TLC Book Tours in exchange for a fair and honest review.

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Until next time...

Happy reading!
Ricki Jill


  1. Sounds like a great book! Adding to my list.

  2. Wonderful review, as always, Ricki Jill. This one sounds like the perfect summer read. I put it on my list. Have a great weekend.

  3. Shoot! Just left you a comment and dropped it before I could send it. I would love the setting in this book but I suppose I am one of the only people in the world that is not overly fond of Nicholas Sparks. I don't know what it is---maybe the stories are too "cutesy" for me? That being said-there were one or two that I enjoyed.

    I have been trying to read a book or two a week and gleaned many of them from your recommendations. I read The House of Velvet & Glass, The Ocean at the End of the Lane and several others. Thanks for the reviews. I like to read the same sorts of things that you do, apparently. xo Diana

  4. I would be interested in the book I'm sure....except I can't take my eyes off your mugs and tea pot! How pretty!

  5. I love the England part -- I love anything England but Jojo Moyes and Nicholas Sparks are definitely not high on my author list so I'm not sure about this one. On the fence. Maybe I could just read the last half...

    But what I really love here is your opening photo and the teapot, too!

  6. This sounds good, some times chic lit is just a little too silly, this one sounds like it has some substance! Thanks RJ, and I hope you had a wonderful birthday!!

  7. Hi,
    Pinning! I am reading The Austen Escape right now. :-) Thank you for your reviews. I do appreciate them.


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I'm Ricki Jill. Welcome! I'm honored that you're reading my blog. I enjoy sharing my creative lifestyle @ The Bookish Dilettante. For more information about my blog, please read the Start Here page. Thank-you for stopping by, and I hope you'll consider following me via email.

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