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Reading Group Guide

Discussion Questions

My Oxford Year

1. Ella has dreamed of being at Oxford since she was 13. Is there a place you’ve always dreamed of going? Where would it be and why? Have you made it? If you have, would you go back?

2. One of Ella’s education proposals is that the arts are essential to an education that creates independent thinkers. Do you agree? Why or why not? Is this something you think should be implemented in your local education system?

3. Are there characters you instantly rooted for? Characters you disliked? Did your opinion of any characters change as the story went on?

4. When Ella and Jamie first get together, it’s supposed to have “no strings.” Can this type of relationship work? Generally speaking, do you think men and women want the same thing from casual relationships? Was Ella misleading Jamie at the beginning when she claimed she didn’t want a relationship?

5. When Jamie comes clean about his illness, he admits that he believed he deserved Ella, that she was his “last hurrah.” Do you believe him? Or do you think he thought there was more there? Should he have told her the truth from the beginning?

6. When Ella first finds out Jamie is ill, her immediate reaction is to feel “trapped.” While we come to understand that this feeling was triggered by her relationship with her mother after her father’s death, do you understand why she felt that way? How do you think you would have reacted in this situation?

7. What do you think about Antonia and William’s relationship? Do you believe they love each other the same amount? Is one person stronger than the other?

8. The mention of Tennyson’s famous line, “Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all” catalyzes a turning point in Ella’s trajectory with Jamie. Do you agree with Tennyson? Have you experienced this difficult lesson yourself?

9. Poetry is an important part of Ella and Jamie’s relationship, as well as being critically important to the book itself. Is poetry still relevant or interesting to contemporary thinking? Have you ever written a poem as an adult? Why?

10. Jamie has a philosophy about his “Oxenford,” the place where a person is ready to “cross over.” Do you agree with him?

11. In your opinion, did Ella make the right decision to stay in the U.K. with Jamie? Would you have made the same decision in her place? At her age? At your age now?

12. If you could choose, would you rather die suddenly or have time to say goodbye? Do you wish the same for the people you love? Specifically, your partner? Your parents? Are the answers different?

My Oxford Year
by Julia Whelan

  • Publication Date: April 24, 2018
  • Genres: Fiction, Women's Fiction
  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
  • ISBN-10: 0062740644
  • ISBN-13: 9780062740649