Surprised By Oxford by Carolyn Weber is a sweetly written story of a young woman’s encounter with the living God while attending school at Oxford University in England. Oxford is no longer known as a Christian stronghold. Academics and intellectuals gladly profess belief in Jesus Christ, in public no less. Christian friends were kind, and normal. Non-Christian friends were kind, and normal. All these things defy expectation and make Surprised By Oxford a delight to read for both believers and non-believers. For reasons which take too long to explain I believe this book will appeal more to women than to men.
The tip of the hat to C. S. Lewis’ book Surprised By Joy, the story of his own conversion is a delicate touch consistent with the book’s tone. Except for the title, do not expect this book to parallel Lewis’. Lewis’ work has a more intellectual tone consistent with its author; I suspect if we were to meet the author of Surprised By Oxford we might say that the tone of the book matched her as well. One of the book’s strengths is that it does not outline a specific theology, Catholic or Protestant. Theological questions are raised but in a way that focuses more on the human quest for truth than doctrine. Expect the book to be a well-written story that encourages believers and non-believers alike with its simplicity, candor, innocence, and sweetness.
The epilogue kindly and briefly brings the story along twenty years into today and answers the questions many readers are sure to have: Did she marry TDH? Did she come back to teach at Oxford? Has her life been a success?
Relax, read, and enjoy the book to find out.
I received a copy of this book at no cost from Thomas Nelson publishers in exchange for a review of the work.