Book Ripples: My Oxford Year by Julia Whelan

“Book Ripples” are my spin on “If you liked (blank), then you’ll love (blank)!” style book recommendations. When I share these Book Ripples, I don’t always mean to say they (the featured books) are the same genre of book, the same style of writing, or the same type of material but simply: some part of Book A sent out a little ripple in my brain that made me think of Book B.

I recently finished Julia Whelan’s My Oxford Year and adored it.

*329 Pages
*One-Sitting read
*(4) Star Rating

When I say I was not prepared to have my heart broken, I mean I truly was NOT prepared, y’all. I was at home, thoroughly unaware, with a back out of place, and thought I’d snuggle up to a comfy romance. Here’s the synopsis:

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.

Again, I figured I was heading into a lazy day read. A pleasant, simple read.

What’s old D-Trump say?


Thus, the ripple.

My mind instantly connected the dots between Me Before You by Jojo Moyes and My Oxford Year for multiple reasons but the big one: THE UNEXPECTED HEARTACHE.

Both books sort of lead you gently, with no smutty stuff, into loving these two flawed characters and then BAM! Your heart gets kicked around. And, the worst part? You kind of love it.

The settings are definitely different but still hold a certain posh-ness to them: an undercurrent of wealth, with edges, glittering between the daily “normal people” struggles of learning to love both yourself and someone else along the way.

I bawled like a baby at the ending. I won’t lie to you. I grew pretty attached to these characters, even with their sometimes imperfect balancing act. There was good character variation (main and secondary), a dose of modern politics, and plenty of family conflict to keep it scientifically contemporary re: medical ethics.

Point blank: I truly believe if you loved Me Before You, that you’ll adore My Oxford Year. If you like feeling gutted and wondrous and puzzled and shaken at the end of a book = this is another to add to your stack.

Wonderful job, Ms. Whelan!


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