My Oxford Year by Julia Whelan

My Oxford Year –  I saw this on Goodreads under ‘The Romance Trends of 2018’ and this immediately jumped out at me, purely because it is set in Oxford. I have a small love affair and fascination with Oxford going on, it really is one of my favourite places and for some reason I am inexplicably drawn to it. Maybe it’s the history (historically Britain’s second city and supposedly it wasn’t bombed by the Nazis during the war as Hitler planned on making it the capital once he had flattened London. Parliament in the past has met in Oxford).The architecture , Oxford is full of gorgeously constructed buildings and features a hotel in the remains of the old prison ( I actually chickened out of staying there on my own), maybe it’s the proximity to Bicester Village ( I love me a designer bargain) or maybe it’s the knowledge and learning that comes from entire city almost being built around a university.  While I am well aware of my own limitations that going to Oxford Uni would be well beyond me ( I went to Swansea and three years there was enough, I still hate the idea of writing another dissertation, a blog post now and then is the best I can manage), I remain fascinated by Oxford University and have already booked in two trips to Oxford this year after going three times last year.

Oxford is also home to my favourite books store –  Blackwell’s! I could quite happily while away an entire afternoon in this independent bookstore and always end up leaving with a bag full of books and book accessories.

Oxford is also the setting for my two of my favourite TV series  Lewis/ Endeavour and the Brilliant Discovery of Witches where Oxford is very much a main character and I was lucky enough to attend one of the advance screenings of the first episode in Oxford last year. Believe me I  think part of my enjoyment of the first half of series 1 of ADOW is pointing out where in Oxford certain scenes were set –  in a weird coincidence which had me laughing in my car –  last November when I stayed in Oxford I ended up parking my car outside Exeter College ( which stands in for All Souls College as All Souls is notoriously private), I had left my ipod hooked up to the car and when I got in and turned the car on Lissie’s song from ADOW , ‘Go Your Own Way’ started playing, I looked around, realised where I was and burst out laughing as that is of course the song that is playing when Matthew and Diana leave Oxford for Sept Tours.  Oxford was also used for filming  in the Harry Potter movies and it’s hard not to stand in the Divinity School and say ‘a babbling bumbling band of baboons’ as this is where McGonagall says it when she is attempting to teach the students to dance for the Yuletide Ball.

Now back to My Oxford Year, I have literally just started and whoa are the political people coming thick and fast.  Ella, is at UK Customs having just arrived from America when Gavin Brookdale calls her, Gavin is running the presidential campaign for Janet Wilkes, offering her a position on the campaign  –  so far so very Scandal ( man I miss that show and Olivia Pope’s wardrobe, okay I mainly miss Oliva Pope’s wardrobe, and Jake. I do miss Jake, Fitz had waaaay to much baggage for me).

According to Goodreads this is ‘perfect for fans of JoJo Moyes and Nicholas Sparks’ which tbh is both a positive and a negative for me as I only seem to enjoy selected books by both of these authors as I Love me Before You and The Girl you left Behind but I really didn’t enjoy Still Me, however I feel that it mentioning both JoJo Moyes and Nicholas Sparks’ gives me a good indication of what I am in for with this, I am expecting lots of emotions!!!

Okay – so the first part was written just as I started writing the book, this next bit was after I finished it, shall we see what I thought?

I feel like I should say this at the beginning- I do have a heart, I do have emotions and yes I cry at the Notebook, and I sobbed uncontrollabley while reading PS I Love You, Me Before You and The Last Kiss. But this, it simply didn’t do it for me and I have more feelings about my lack of feelings for the book than I do for the actual book. 

To pick up from my initial ramble, we have Ella from Ohio a Rhodes scholar and aspiring staffer on the hill. At the UK customers she gets offered any amazing job in Washington and this is where I started thinking it was going to be Scandal esque, but that didn’t really materialise. 

Instead Ella studies at Oxford doing all the normal student things of lectures, reading, going to the library, making fast friends with Tom, Charlie and Maggie and drinking. Oh and falling for her lecturer (also, did you really go to uni if you didn’t have at least one crush on a lecturer?!?!) 

The lecturer/ course tutor in question is of course Jamie Davenport (who for some reason just kept making me think of Commodore Norringtpn from POTC who was of course played by Jack Davenport).  They start out as ‘friends with benefits’, ( let’s be real it’s a hookup). They both state that they don’t want anything serious or long term and they shouldn’t make plans etc etc etc yaaawwnnn I think we all know where this is going. They get more involved and then boon Ella discovers that Jamie has incurable blood cancer. Yep, now you see why I had to say I am not heartless. 

They go through the motions of Jamie doesn’t want to trap her and Ella still thinks she can leave in the summer when her year at Oxford is over but I think we all know how this is going to end. As the book progresses Jamie deteriotes and Ella is by his side, we also learn about Jamie’s brother , Oliver, and meet his parents. Truthfully it was the parents I felt more for. 

When it begins to look like Jamie may pass on or as they like to call it his “oxenford” ( these are Oxford people, it’s all very clever with lots of reference to literature and poetry). Ella is offered a prime job in Washington (remember that strange part time job she has been doing all year?!?) Of course, Ella decides that she isnt going to go and change the world, but instead she chooses love and to stay with Jamie (sorry but boring).  This to me didn’t feel like a satisfactory ending for the book, the epilogue is Jamie and Ella traveling around Europe and seizing the day which is all well and good but just didn’t feel right to me.

Let’s be honest there is no way I am coming out of this review looking good, I am literally saying I didn’t feel anything but vague levels of annoyance and frustration for a book where the male lead has the big C so yes I am mean. 

I think it’s bcoz I was so interested in this book being somethin else to start with. With elas phone call at customs I thought she was going to be more actively working on the campaign and that it would involve more of her time instead of just a few random phone calls, obviously she would still meet Jamie and they would be loves young dream (Jamie minus the C) eventually Jamie would grow frustrated at her constantly being distracted with a job an ocean away, at the same time Jamie would be busy working on his thesis and his poetry with Ela has his muse , as she is in the book). At the end of the year maybe Jamie would be offered a chance to study french poets on a sourjoin at the sarbonne in France and she would go back to America, both of them would want the other to go with them but eventually they would both realise that they have to follow their own destinys. And it would be a bitter sweet ending like the end of la la land, you know they have the world to concur and thyebcant do it together, but you can’t help but hope)  and the epilogue would be similar to say the end of the bodyguard, Jamie would be in a bar celebrating a major career highlight (maybe becoming the peoy laurente or something) and on the news he would see a press conference by the unmarried pregannay newly elected president and Ella would be right beside her changing the world. And he would know it was all for the best. 

So there we have it, basically I didn’t like this book as it wasn’t the book I wanted it to be.