Today’s review is on My Oxford Year by Julie Whelan.
I chose My Oxford Year because it has been getting a lot of buzz in the BookTube and Bookstagram community, and it sounded interesting. Also, who hasn’t dreamed about having the opportunity to study at Oxford University?
Ella Durran is an American graduate student who wins the Rhodes scholarship and gets to live out her dream of studying at Oxford University for a year. As she arrives in England, she also finds out that she has been asked to help with the campaign of a presidential candidate, and that she will possibly have a job when she arrives back in the U.S.
Also on her first day in Oxford she has a run-in with a man who almost knocks her down with his car, and later that same day spills sauce on her shirt and is not apologetic for his actions. Ella never wants to see him again, until she gets to her first class and discovers that he is her professor – Jamie Davenport. What starts as a relationship of animosity, soon turns into something more and sparks start to fly. They come to care for each other, even though they know that Ella will be leaving at the end of the year, however she uncovers a secret about Jamie that could possible change both of their lives forever.
My Oxford Year has a good meet cute between the main couple that in some ways points to the obvious relationship that happens between the two of them. Although some readers will find it frustrating that they would not admit their feelings for one another until later on in their relationship.
However, the main characters of the novel will be a selling point to most readers, especially Jamie Davenport who is, at best, a swoon-worthy character that most people dream of. He is also aggravting, especially when he forces Ella to share the story of her dad’s death, forcing her to be vulnerable, but yet he turns around and asks her for a month off from their pseudo-relationship, allowing her to think the worst of him. It was also enjoyable to see Ella grow as a character and eventually come to the realization at the end that what she wants for the future, is very different from what she had originally planned, and that a life of politics was not her dream. My one complaint of her character is that she does not treat her mother well, in fact she comes across as an awful daughter. Whelan tries to make us sympathetic towards her reactionary responses to her mother, but that still doesn’t make them right. Another relationship that will interest readers is the one between Jamie and William, who also seem at odds with each other, and the eventual discovery as to why their relationship is strained. It is definitely worth the wait to find out what happened.
There are also many side characters who are charming and add some elements of humor to the story that is needed and appreciated at just the right moments. However, Tom and Maggie’s relationship was frustrating, but it is a small blip in an otherwise decent narrative.
My Oxford Year has a good story that most readers will enjoy, however some readers will find the ending to be too poetic, vague and abrupt. They will be left with questions as to what happens to the main characters after the ending and they will be frustrated when those answers are not answered. 3/5 Stars.
Janelle L. C.