Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.

  • Apple
  • Android
  • Windows Phone
  • Android

To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.

Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See this image

Surprised by Oxford: A Memoir Paperback – August 8, 2011

4.4 out of 5 stars 252 customer reviews

See all 5 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
New from Used from
"Please retry"
Paperback, August 8, 2011
$7.99 $4.67

There is a newer edition of this item:

Wiley Summer Savings Event.
Wiley Summer Savings Event.
Save up to 40% during Wiley's Summer Savings Event. Learn more.
click to open popover

Editorial Reviews


"Well written, often poignant and surprisingly relatable." -Kirkus Reviews

"The metaphors and allusions don't make the text inaccessibly erudite, but instead illustrate the beauty and struggle of her conversion." -Publishers Weekly

About the Author

Carolyn Weber holds her BA from the University of Western Ontario and her M.Phil and D.Phil degrees from Oxford University. She has been Associate Professor of Romantic Literature at Seattle University; she has also taught at Westmont College, University of San Francisco and Oxford University. Carolyn and her husband share the joy of parenting three spirited children in Santa Barbara, CA and London, Canada.  Find her online at www.pressingsave.com.


The latest book club pick from Oprah
"The Underground Railroad" by Colson Whitehead is a magnificent novel chronicling a young slave's adventures as she makes a desperate bid for freedom in the antebellum South. See more

Product Details

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas Nelson (August 8, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780849946110
  • ISBN-13: 978-0849946110
  • ASIN: 0849946115
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 1.4 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (252 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #185,739 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Carolyn Weber's beautifully penned memoir of her personal faith journey is a delight to read. Her descriptions of Oxford are enough to make any Anglophile salivate. As a professor of English literature and an expert in the Romantic poets, she intersperses snippets of classic poetry throughout. Her ongoing references to the poetry of John Donne and John Milton especially captured my attention, their insights having been instrumental in my own spiritual walk. In the end, I want to dust off the Norton anthologies saved from my own college lit classes and immerse myself once more.

When the author is awarded a full scholarship to do graduate work at Oxford University's Balliol College, she hasn't an inkling of the path on which she is setting out. In the company of her colleagues and friends, and spurred on by one particular theology student who lives across the hall, she explores the deep, existential questions that have nagged her for years. For the first time in her life she reads a Bible--what she says is "the most compelling piece of creative nonfiction I had ever read. If I sat around for thousands of years, I could never come up with what it proposes, let alone with how intricately Genesis unfolds toward Revelation." Following in the footsteps of C.S. Lewis, the truth of God's Word eventually leads her first to believe in God and ultimately to believe in Jesus Christ as the Son of God.

Carolyn's journey unfurls as a twofold romance: even as she is being courted by the Divine Lover, she is also courted by "TDH" (Tall, Dark, & Handsome). Conversations with this particular lover of God (and with other friends, both believers and non-believers) serve as the catalyst for her search. The questions had always been there; TDH challenges her to finally seek hard after the answers.
Read more ›
2 Comments 59 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Paperback
Perhaps C.S. Lewis (no stooge at describing matters of faith and reason) nailed it when he observed: "Education without values, as useful as it is, seems rather to make man a more clever devil" (Lewis was a Christian apologist and spent most of his adult life in Oxford as an educator). You don't need a degree in sociology to see what the good professor was saying; nonetheless in "Surprised by Oxford" Carolyn Weber (Weber is presently a visiting professor of literature at Westmont College) provides a captivating look at culture and religious life for those pursuing higher education in one of the most esteemed citadels of academia.

Weber is a passionate wordsmith and enjoys exploring concepts interspersed in the minds and words of friends, connections, and colleagues. Weber was ready to be confronted with high educational expectations and standards, but what she found along with that, was a deeper knowledge of God and how He works in the lives of people. This book was so readable and charming that I found it difficult to put it down late at night.

Before her commitment to Christ, the author had a high regard for rational quests in the halls of academia without much thought about the author of rationality: God. She found God because he found her as He opened her heart to the truth found in Christ: at Oxford! (Sorry Dawkins).

Chapters include:

- Summer Sunset
- Michaelmas Term
- Christmastide
- Eastertide
- Summer Sunrise
- and more including numerous thought-provoking quotes from literati.

One of my favorite sections was: "Jesus the Great Polarizer." The reader soon learns that one can discuss almost anything at Oxford, but if one mentions the name of Jesus, people get rankled fast.
Read more ›
Comment 22 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Paperback
An absolute pleasure to read! This is the story and personal commentary of Carolyn Weber's own journey to faith while in her first year at Oxford. It is full of insights into her struggle with issues of faith, lacking a father, feminism, academia, and relationships. Strange to say, but this work of non-fiction is a beautifully written love story. The story of how her heart was won over by a gracious God, and also by deeply caring friends. What made this book exceptional to me was how intelligently it was written. Carolyn writes with stark honesty that is sometimes humorous and other times bluntly challenging. There is none of the cynicism or criticism that I have found with other authors that write with such honesty. The academic traditions and culture of Oxford form a beautiful background for the story. Quotes from literature and poetry are richly sprinkled throughout, adding a literary feel. It was refreshing to read such well-crafted, intelligent prose telling a most worthwhile story. The book read more like a novel than a work of non-fiction. I found myself caught up in the story, unable to put it down. Carolyn made me feel like I was there, experiencing it all with her, one of her friends. My husband is not an avid reader, but I noticed he has picked up the book and is likewise devouring it! Highly recommended for anyone who appreciates academia, literature, intelligence, and is open to ideas of faith. 5 stars out of 5

I received this book on a complimentary basis from BookSneeze (Thomas Nelson Publishers) for purposes of review, and I am not required to give a positive evaluation.
Comment 15 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse

Most Recent Customer Reviews