Learning to Live with the Questions

When I was working on my review for Lovely War by Julie Berry last week, I took a look at Goodreads to see if I had anything else from 2019 that I hadn't reviewed. And I laughed a little when I noticed that there was only one book left on my Goodreads "to do" shelf... and it was also the only read I hadn't reviewed from 2018, too. The worst part is that I loved the book, so there was no reason for me to drag my feet on reviewing it. And so, today, I'm finally going to chat about My Oxford Year by Julia Whelan (a book I received from the publisher for review consideration).

From the second I saw this title and cover, I had to have it. I studied abroad in Oxford for six weeks one summer during college. It was an incredible experience, one that cemented England as the country I want to return to again and again. And, hello, Kelly and I have been twice in the past two years so I'm well on my way to accomplishing this goal. But let's get back to this book. The cover and title immediately appealed to me, but I was even more excited when I read the summary. It sounded like something I'd love even without the Oxford connection!

American Ella Durran has been working towards studying at Oxford for most of her adolescence and is now the recipient of a Rhodes Scholarship at age 24. She’s ready to enjoy one year in the city she’s dreamed about since she was thirteen! She knows she’ll work hard for school, of course, but expects plenty of time for pubs, punting down the river, making new friends, and maybe a no-strings-attached fling. Enter Jamie Davenport. He seems like a total prick on their first meeting, and then Ella walks into her English literature course to find out he's teaching it. Her first impression might have been wrong, and the future she mapped out for herself takes a turn she never expected. A lot can happen in one year, and life has a way of surprising you...

Based on the cover of this book, I imagined a light-hearted romantic comedy set in one of my favorite cities in the world. And while it ended up being very different than I expected, I still loved it so much! I read it for the first time in 2018, and then I decided to finish off #FebruaREREAD in 2019 with this on audio. This is one of those books that worked so perfectly for me as a reader! It tapped into my love for Oxford, brought back memories of my time there, and reminded me of another British book I love (but won’t name because #spoiler).

Although I would have loved a little more character development, I honestly didn’t mind that there's a pretty big shift in tone about halfway through. I can understand how that won’t be true for everyone else, but it added depth and emotion to the story for me. It took the book from something a little bit fluffy and fun into more thought-provoking territory. Based on reviews I've seen, it's definitely a polarizing aspect of the book – one that you'll probably either love or hate. But you can count me in the love column!

I loved the romance and the heroine’s own personal journey. But my favorite part, of course, was the setting. Can I go back now?! Whelan definitely captured everything I loved about this city and left me itching to hop on a plane to head across the pond. And speaking of Whelan, I don't want to forget to mention that this is her debut novel but you might be familiar with her work as an audiobook narrator. That was another reason I was so excited to pick up this book, and she didn't disappoint me! I loved reading the book for the first time, but it was even more fun to listen to her narrate the audio for my re-read. As expected, she did an excellent job.

This was one of my favorite reads of 2018, and it remained a favorite after re-reading it last year. If you're in the mood for a romantic story about embracing life in all its twists and turns, pick this one up!

So Quotable
“Our memories of places, much like people, are subject to our own adaptation process. Once the active living is done, and they pass into memory, we assume control of the narrative. We adapt it, sometimes without meaning to. This is, perhaps, the one advantage of death: when people die, they can live on in our memory as we choose, but places continue to exist, to change.”

Release Date: April 24, 2018 | Publisher: HarperCollins; William Morrow Paperbacks
Pages: 329 pages | Source & Format: Publisher / Bought; e-ARC / Paperback & Audiobook

*I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review consideration. This did not affect my opinion of the book or my review.


  1. I read this after reading your review and absolutely loved it! I read it on a Kindle (in two days) but have today ordered a paperback copy because there are so many things I want to highlight and it's the sort of story that needs to be in a 'proper' book! Thanks for the recommendation.

    1. That makes me so happy! Thank you for letting me know that my review is the reason you read it -- that's my favorite thing to hear :)

  2. I just remember us talking about this book before, and every time I see it, I think about how much you love it! I loved seeing your full thoughts on this one, and I'm still pretty curious about it.


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