Monday, April 30, 2018

Blog Tour: My Oxford Year

Sometimes I pick up a book expecting one kind of story and end up with another one entirely. That's not always welcome but, in the case of My Oxford Year, I was happily surprised with the story I finished. I thought Julia Whelan's debut novel would be good and enjoyable but there was a much deeper thread woven through the story than I had anticipated. It broke my heart a little bit but I was glad it was there because it made the book so much better than it otherwise would have been.

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.
As you can see from the synopsis, I probably should have picked up on the serious plot line. But how many times have you read the back of a book and been told something major happens and it ends up being nothing at all? (I also blame Chris Harrison and his constant refrain of "the most dramatic season EVER of The Bachelor.") 


Ella was just as unprepared as I was for the big revelation but she did not back down. She realized what was most important in life and held on tight. 

I read this book in a day. I started it on my lunch break and continued reading it after I got home from work (glass of wine in hand...which I highly recommend). I just didn't want to put it down. The story grabbed me and the characters were so real. It was like I was really there in Oxford with Ella.

Speaking of Ella, I thought she was awesome. She was a hard-worker (probably worked too hard sometimes) but she understood that you cannot sustain an "all work and no play" kind of life. She was a kind friend and wicked smart. She had hopes, dreams, and fears just like the rest of us and I'm glad Whelan allowed Ella to be vulnerable.

And Jamie? I adored him as well. He was also incredibly smart - which made him a perfect match for Ella - and had a dry, witty sense of humour that I loved.

I loved how Whelan was able to find a balance so her novel wasn't too serious or too flippant. It's a coming of age story even though Ella is 24. She had a good life before Oxford - one she has worked hard for - but what happens when she's there made her realize exactly what was missing from her life and what she needed to do moving forward. A lot happens in this book and Ella grows up during it. All the seriousness could have gotten too heavy but there are so many light-hearted moments throughout. The novel is sweet, sad, uplifting, and funny. Just like life.

And that cover? I love it. The colours are lovely and the design really fits with the story.

My Oxford Year will probably be one of my favourite books of the spring. I hope everyone picks up Julia Whelan's novel because they'll find a story that's both uplifting and heartbreaking that reminds us that life is sometimes too short so we should make the most of it while we still can.

Psst...head over to my Instagram and you could win a copy of My Oxford Year for yourself courtesy of the publisher!

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.

Connect with Julia
Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram * Goodreads *

Buy My Oxford Year
Amazon * IndieBound * Barnes & Noble * Books-A-Million * iBooks * GooglePlay *

*A copy of this novel was provided by the publisher, HarperCollins, in exchange for a review for the purpose of a blog tour. All opinions are honest and my own.*

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