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"Surprised By Oxford: A Memoir"
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Surprised By Oxford: A Memoir by Carolyn Weber (Thomas Nelson)

With the skill of the great writers she arrived at Oxford to read in her graduate studies, Carolyn Weber tells her own story of a young woman’s search for beauty and truth. Witty and smart — and a bit cynical — she is eventually confronted with more truth and beauty than she bargained for and a love that far surpassed that described by the Romantic poets on whom she intended to focus.

This young quester and her circle of academics express the questions bright minds ask and every suspicion of a faith unprovable by scientific method. But, thank God, these questions are not met with condemnation or condescension, but with respect and compassion by believers who are not afraid of honest doubt. Love gets a sharpened focus, too, and the power of trusting it to make arguments of its own.

Surprising and delightful, this memoir reads like a novel. Recommendations by the likes of Alister McGrath may have made me pick it up, but the story and the skillful telling of it made me keep turning the pages. Lines from some of my favorite writers punctuated the pages, but it was the lines from Carolyn Weber’s own prose that made me keep my highlighter handy. I fell in love with the characters (and I do mean characters) who crossed her path at strategic moments. There was Regina, a seasoned and widowed Oxford professor who “owned a unique ability to provide people with just what they needed,” with whom the author spent Easter weekend at Regina’s “crumbling, rambling farmhouse,” experiencing a most incredible welcome into the importance of celebration. And the father of the person referred to as TDH who said, “Sometimes the loftiness of one’s gifts outweighs or exceeds the depth of his character.”

As soon as I closed this book, I ordered two for young college students I care about and one for a university president who sees kids struggling with issues of faith every day. Truth is, I still do myself, and I am adding this young woman’s story to those along my journey who have helped me believe that questions are almost as important to faith as answers.