My Oxford Year by Julie Whelan – Review

My Oxford Year is an incongruous story of a second chance. The lead character, Ella Durran is described as an accomplished political consultant with unwarranted poetry spark inside her. Coming to Oxford for English Literature program paid by the Rhodes she’s won herself, she meets and falls in love with the cute, mysterious poet with deep eyes who happens to be her professor.

During her only a yearlong stay in Oxford, Ella would encounter a string of intoxicating romantic events which will lead her to first believe that she’s become a person strange even to herself at Oxford, and eventually will surprise her as far as giving her closure on one of her darkest past.

The premise is fine, more than fine, super even. However, it is far from well-executed. I’d like to think that the genre romance has a rather wide niche, so naturally, one of the most basic romance traits is to be inclusive. Easy to understand, nothing complex. However, on its way of attempting to full fledge its poetry wings MOY utilizes a lot, and I mean, A. LOT. of poetry references, of which some sound very old, while some others are completely alien to my ears. I honestly didn’t get 90% of the references and really, that fact alone, discounted my reading experience by much already.

Still another part of poetry manifestation program, MOY also has such a pretentious wording. You can say sophisticated if you want, but I’d say it’s rather hard to digest. This is a big problem in a romance. A love story should evoke deep emotions and agitate readers’ feelings, bring their hearts to a precarious position where they can’t decide where to jump. But any kind of emotion would never come if our brain is way too busy to process the endless chain of ‘sophisticated’ words.

Add all that up, I practically jump-read half the story.

Nearing the 50% mark, the narrative got a little bit kinder to my personal lexicon, but here I felt the rhythm was off. It felt like Ella and I walked at a very different pace in her emotional development. At many points, the build-up feelings weren’t enough for the big decision to be plausible and understandable from my own perspective. The narrative kept taking weird turn by weird turn until I no longer cared if it made any sense altogether.

As a hard-core romance reader, this book is definitely a miss for me, even though not by far.  

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