Book Review: Surprised by Oxford by Carolyn Weber

Surprised by OxfordSurprised by Oxford by Carolyn Weber

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Half-way point? phenomenal.

This is my third memoir of the year, and by far my favorite. 

According to my blog, I read Girl Meets God by Lauren Winner almost 10 years ago.  I still remember that I liked it, but didn’t love it.  Something seemed off.

This.  This book blows it out of the water.

Carolyn Weber has written a beautiful book wrapping her confusion and questions in poetry.  As a student of literature, these bits come to life as she negotiates a tumultuous conversion and first steps in faith.  The mentoring she receives from mature believers are some of my favorite episodes in the book.  Professors and believers take her under her wing to answer, exhort, and encourage her through every step of the way.  The Providence of God comes through loud and clear through her story.

The elegance of her writing reminds me of Madeleine L’Engle.  I first noted it when she was referred to as Caro early in the book, the name of the grandmother in the Austin family books.  The weaving of the poetic language of the past into her own poetics is beautiful to behold and so satisfying to read. 

I appreciate that this story didn’t just happen to her.  The view of 15 to 20 years and the maturity of faith gained in that time adds to the weight of her words.  This is a sustainable life and worldview.

My one complaint is the seeming constant surprise of the idea of “thoughtful” Christianity or “intellectual” Christians.  She never says that Christians in every sphere make choices based on their faith is restricted to the intellectual — but, I found myself frustrated at times by this consistent description.

Carolyn Weber is about my age.  She has children about the age of my children.  I could very much identify with her (although, it has taken me to age 39 to appreciate a lot of the literature she appreciated when we were in college).  I like to think that we would be friends if we knew one another in person. 

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  1. I'm very interested in reading this, after reading your and others' positive reviews. Only thing is, I'm afraid I'd feel even more insecure about my lack of education. :/

  2. I really enjoyed this book as well. Have you had a chance to visit her blog? @

  3. Dana,

    I have and added it to my feed reader. She's talking about children's books right now which, well, I can't really resist 🙂

    I knew I had read someone else's glowing review, but couldn't recall who! I'm glad you posted to re-mind me 🙂

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