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Another Romance Novel . . . With an Oxford Setting and Frequent English Lit References ⇉ Review and GIVEAWAY of My Oxford Year by Julia Whelan

Tuesday, May 8, 2018
Oxford + Studies + Life Changes = a formula for a story. Having studied at Oxford before, the title caught my eyes. Today, I'm sharing my thoughts on the novel along with a giveaway for a copy of The Oxford Year.


Oxford Setting
As the MC Ella shares, Oxford is considered by some to be a magical place where dreams come true. Having spent some time there as a student, I was intrigued to see how the author Julia Whelan portrays it.

Characters Who Know Their English Lit
Much of the banter between different characters involves references to and quotes from literary works, both poetry and prose. English lit fans will enjoy seeing these references.

Character Dilemmas
Though there is a strong romance focus, romance is not the only issue they're dealing with. For example, as the synopsis says, Ella has to choose between her political dreams and being there for the man with whom she's falling in love.

Moral Questions are Raised
Various things from political issues to relationship issues raise moral questions for consideration. These questions will get the readers thinking about their their beliefs on these issues.

Note of caution: controversial political issues are raised, and the author takes a clear stance on them through Ella's responses to them.


Flat Characters
The characters fit easily into stereotyped roles. Though the MCs do find themselves taking a different path than they initially envisioned, I wasn't made to feel for the characters and the changes they go through. Their stories are fairly straightforward; the characters lacked a real sense of complexity.

Predictable Plot
I felt like I was reading another soap opera romance. The plot was predictable; it never made me feel like the characters were in any real problem.

Heavy on the "Romance"

In the end, it felt like the book was all about the romance or, rather, the physical relationship and ensuing problems it causes when things get serious (in various ways). The situation in which the characters find themselves seems only to be like the backdrop to the romance.


The Oxford Year felt like a Harlequin romance novel reworked to target a younger audience with an interest in political issues, particularly those on the topics of education and women. This wasn't what I was expecting going into the novel and didn't end up being for me. However, readers who enjoy romance novels with a foreign setting and a goodly sized dose of politics may want to pick up a copy of this novel. If you're interested, scroll down to enter for a chance to win a copy!


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 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 | Goodreads | Twitter | Instagram


My Oxford Year
Open to the United States

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If you were to spend a year abroad, where would you go?

Publication Info
  • My Oxford Year by Julia Whelan
  • Published by William Morrow
  • On April 24, 2019
  • Genres: Romance
  • Pages: 352 Pages
  • Format: Paperback
  • N/A
Mature Content 
(Highlight to See)
  • Language
  • Alcohol
  • (Premarital) Sex (frequent)
  • Terminal Illness
  • Political content

I received a copy for review from the publisher. All opinions expressed are my own.

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