Surprised by Oxford: A Memoir - eBook  -     By: Carolyn Weber
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Surprised by Oxford: A Memoir - eBook

Thomas Nelson / 2013 / ePub

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Product Information

Format: DRM Protected ePub
Vendor: Thomas Nelson
Publication Date: 2013
ISBN: 9780849949319
ISBN-13: 9780849949319

Publisher's Description

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

"A hugely readable journey of cultural and spiritual discovery, sparkling with wit and wisdom." - Alister McGrath

"Carolyn Weber's memoir reads like a fast-paced novel. I loved the humor, skillful use of language and her compelling account of her steps to finding God at Oxford. I was totally captivated from beginning to end." - Marilyn Meberg

Surprised by Oxford is the memoir of a skeptical agnostic who comes to a dynamic personal faith in God during graduate studies in literature at Oxford University.

Carolyn Weber arrives at Oxford a feminist from a loving but broken family, suspicious of men and intellectually hostile to all things religious. As she grapples with her God-shaped void alongside the friends, classmates, and professors she meets, she tackles big questions in search of Truth, love, and a life that matters.

From issues of fatherhood, feminism, doubt, doctrine, and love, Weber explores the intricacies of coming to faith with an aching honesty and insight echoing that of the poets and writers she studied. Rich with illustration and literary references, Surprised by Oxford is at once gritty and lyrical; both humorous and spiritually perceptive. This savvy, credible account of Christian conversion and its after-effects follows the calendar year and events of the school year as it entertains, informs, and promises to engage even the most skeptical and unlikely reader.

"Surprised by Oxford is a sprightly contribution to the genre of spiritual memoirs in the vein of C.S. Lewis's Surprised by Joy and Lauren F. Winner's Girl Meets God. Carolyn Weber is an unconventional thinker whose engagingly told faith journey will speak to folks who still believe that thoughtful people cannot be Christian." - Lyle W. Dorsett

Author Bio

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


"Carolyn Weber is an unconventional thinker whose engagingly told faith journey will speak to folks who still believe that thoughtful people cannot be Christian." -Lyle W. Dorsett, author and Billy Graham Professor of Evangelism, Beeson Divinity School

"Carolyn Weber is a formidable intellect and a sought-after college professor, as well as a great wife and mom. But what I love most about her is her heart, which you'll find on every page of this book. She is candid, insightful, and charming." -Randy Alcorn, author of Heaven and If God Is Good

"Reads like a fast-paced novel. I love the humor, skillful use of language. and compelling account of her steps to finding God at Oxford. Totally captivating from beginning to end." -Marilyn Meberg, author and Women of Faith speaker

Author Info

Carolyn Weber is an author, speaker, and associate professor of Romantic Literature at Seattle University, currently holding a Visiting Professorship at Santa Barbara's Westmont College. A graduate of Huron College in Ontario, she completed her master and doctoral degrees at Oxford where she served as the first female Dean of St. Peter's College. Married thirteen years, Carolyn currently juggles academic life while chasing her young daughter and twin toddler boys, preferably on the beach.


Memoir of a literature professor who converted to Christianity in the halls of Oxford University.

Coming home for the holidays, Weber (English/Seattle Univ.) had a handsome young man with a jewelry box in his pocket waiting for her at the gate. Most girls would be excited, but not the author. As her ex-fiance-to-be awaited her arrival, Weber found herself confiding to a concerned stranger that she'd been thinking about someone else: Jesus. It's an inauspicious beginning for a conversion story, inciting the same adverse reaction in readers as the author’s agnostic friends-nice, well-educated girls do not break up with their boyfriends and become Christians. But a lot has changed since Weber began her graduate studies at Oxford, an establishment where semesters with names like "Michaelmas" and "Hilary" frame a touching narrative of friendship, love and faith. There, the author was just as often inspired by Keats and the Beatles as she was by the Gospel. Weaving lines of poetry, philosophy and scripture into her narrative, Weber grasps at the meaning of life in the pages of great works of literature and overcomes her own childhood cynicism. Ultimately, a boy she refers to as TDK (i.e., tall, dark and handsome) won her heart and encouraged her to convert. When normal, 20-something trials ensued, notably a visit from a Georgia Peach in designer stilettos who threatened to steal her crush, the author's new faith was put to the test. The delicately crafted moments when Weber's faith allowed her to think more clearly and walk more gracefully through her life are, much like her romance, worth the wait.

Well-written, often poignant and surprisingly relatable.


Weber's transformation from agnostic to Christian occurs in the intellectually rigorous setting of Oxford University, where brainy students and brilliant professors both lead her to salvation and threaten to draw her away from it. Conveying the effects of unbridled inquiry and open mindedness, this memoir of obtaining a degree in literature and much more, also offers a peek inside of what many consider the world's most prestigious university, which Weber portrays as a place both steeped in great traditions yet tolerant of youthful exuberance. One of the best parts of the book is the author's self-deprecating sense of humor that she uses to transcend challenging moments. Brimming with inspiring quotes from literary giants and great artists, this book is a truly endearing work that offers great comfort and delight as it celebrates the Christian faith.

Publisher's Weekly

Following in the footsteps of C.S. Lewis, another Oxonian famously surprised by joy, Weber chronicles her encounters with God and Jesus while studying at Oxford University, in an honest and earnest tale structured around the university's trimester school year. Her narrative bares not only her internal conflicts during her time in England, but also her family life and how it shaped her distrust of religion as she grew up. The tale of her coming to Christianity from an intellectual agnosticism is woven with poetry and song lyrics that punctuate and, at times, encapsulate key moments of her study and discovery. The metaphors and allusions don't make the text inaccessibly erudite, but instead illustrate the beauty and struggle of her conversion. Some readers might question the length and apparent happenstance of some of the events included, while others will allow the professor of Romantic literature her poetic license, and enjoy the prose ride in the city of dreaming spires. (Aug.) Copyright 2011 Reed Business Information.

Product Reviews

5 Stars Out Of 5
5 out of 5
5 out Of 5
(5 out of 5)
5 out Of 5
(5 out of 5)
Meets Expectations:
5 out Of 5
(5 out of 5)
of customers would recommend this product to a friend.
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  1. Johor, Malaysia
    Age: 25-34
    Gender: female
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    Awesome God experience written
    August 26, 2012
    Johor, Malaysia
    Age: 25-34
    Gender: female
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 5
    I requested to review this book a year ago when I started a new chapter of my life in Europe. It took me a year to read this book. By taking it slowly, the testimonial of Carolyn Weber made a deep impression within me. I am encouraged by her choice despite being 'different' as in being a Christian in the world. This book will definitely give an impact to anyone who finds it hard to accept the existence of God, newly-baptized Christians struggling to 'fit in' as well as for those who have been Christians their whole lives. Also, she entwined within her conversion story another story of how God comes first in all relationships and how she met her husband. This is definitely a book which I will recommend to everyone.

    Disclosure of Material Connection:I received this bookfree from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com [...] book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255[...] :"Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
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