My Year at Oxford by Julia Whelan

Posted November 10, 2018 by Debbie in Book Reviews / 1 Comment

4 Star for My Year at Oxford


Julia Whelan

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 Thoughts ~

I am left breathless having just finished reading this wonderfully poetic story.

The story of Ella and Jamie truly is the ride of a lifetime.

The author opened my eyes to a part of the world that I had only known by name alone.  I reveled in the beauty of her talent at creating a crystal clear visual through her words and saw each and every brick, felt the history seep into my soul and fell in love with Oxford and all its wonderful glory.

The story itself would not have worked without its amazing supporting cast of characters. For it was those characters who helped round out both Ella and Jamie. Both determined, but in very different ways. Both set in their minds of what life possibilities were offered, in reach and obtainable. Both so unwilling to realize that we as people don’t control the plan that life has set out for us. We are mere characters in the story of life and it seem’s that sometimes, the plan of our lives is interrupted and put’s us on a the path that was chosen for us, without our knowledge.

“It turns out, the act of making a choice, of choosing a path, doesn’t mean the other path disappears. It just means that it will forever run parallel to the one you’re on. It means you have to live with knowing what you gave up.” 

I fell in love while reading this book. In love with life, the places this story centers around, with history, poetry but mostly in love with the idea that while we believe we are in charge of our lives, it is in fact predetermined and we are just along for the ride. Sometimes bumpy, sometimes confusing, sometimes glorious and sometimes so extremely painful we doubt we will make it through.

“Now, we don’t always get to choose what happens in life, don’t we all know. However, we can choose what we do with what we’re given.” 

This story offered hope in every facet available. It offered a glimpse into the lives of Ella, Jamie and their friends and family. It showered down love, hope and the surprising realization that sometimes life brings to you something you never knew you wanted.

Julia Whelan’s story exceeded any expectation I had when I began reading. It’s grace and beauty astounded me and the words and characters have embedded themselves deep within my heart.


Julia Whelan is a screenwriter, life-long actor, and award-winning audiobook narrator. She graduated with a degree in English and Creative Writing from Middlebury College and Oxford University. While in England, her flirtation with tea blossomed into a full-blown love affair, culminating in her eventual certification as a tea master. When not writing her own books, you can find her reading other people’s out loud into a microphone.

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