“Who is God to you? I’d really like to know.” p.65
Interwoven with literature, hints of the academy, and glimpses of the Christian life, Surprised by Oxford follows new graduate student Carolyn “Caro” Drake from London, Ontario, Canada to London, England. Carolyn, the blooming English literature scholar is placed at Oxford University where she quickly finds her presumptions regarding Christianity are changed by believers and non-believers alike. Framed by the “liturgical calendar” used to separate academic terms at Oxford University, Caro takes her readers through the Michaelmas, Hilary, and Trinity seasons in order to map her journey of faith.
Overall, Mrs. Weber’s book, “based on events as they actually unfolded at [her] first year at Oxford University,” is one that asks critical questions regarding faith and the Christian life. As an English major, I found this book to be extremely helpful in connecting the academy to Christianity in an interesting fashion. Often warned by her professors that an interest in Christianity would cause her to be mocked in the academic, Carolyn pursues Christ, despite difficulties presented by other professors, her fiance, and even her family. Though Carolyn’s story includes many of those who would seek to lead her away from Christ, she focuses on friends that lead her further into the Christian faith. In addition to being set in an academic location, the highlight of positive relationships in the Christian walk was also a wonderful touch to the text. This memoir is not only the story of a young woman seeking Christianity, but it is also the story of how close relationships can turn a person down one path or another.
Overall, for those seeking a well-written memoir about the trials and joys of following Christ, Surprised by Oxford is an excellent selection. Heightened by the academic setting, Surprised allows readers to witness a change that only Christ could initiate.
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