‘My Oxford Year’ Is Being Made Into A Romance With Melissa Benoist & Sam Heughan, And You Can Start Reading It Now
Stock up on school supplies, pack your suitcases, and make sure to bring plenty of tissues with you, because this April, readers are going on a heart-thumping romantic adventure across the pond in Julia Whelan’s debut novel, My Oxford Year. The first book from the Once and Again actress, screenwriter, and award-winning audiobook narrator-turned-author is sure to be on everyone’s summer reading list next year, but luckily you don’t have to wait until then to read it. Bustle is thrilled to not only have details about My Oxford Year, but an exclusive look at the first chapter of this breathtaking book, out April 2018 from William Morrow Paperbacks.
Ella Durran’s life is going exactly according to her perfectly crafted plan: after years of hard work and determination, she has finally made it to Oxford on a Rhodes scholarship at age 24. She has even secured a prestigious job working on a promising politician’s presidential campaign when she returns to America after a year abroad, and her future has never looked brighter. On her first day of classes at her dream school, Ella knows everything in her life is right on track — that is, until she meets Jamie Davenport, a gorgeous local man and her literature professor who just might be the curveball Ella never expected to face. Their awkward first encounter aside, Ella and Jamie are quick to form a strong bond when late-night drinks and an unexpected revelation turn their fling into the start of a serious relationship. As their love deepens and secrets are revealed, Ella must choose between the life and career she’s always dreamed of in America or a future in Oxford with a true love she could have only ever imagined.
Sweet and tender, My Oxford Year is a heartbreaking coming-of-age romance that will move readers to tears. Perfect for fans of JoJo Moyes and Nicholas Sparks, Whelan’s debut is poised to be a hit with fans of women’s fiction, romance, and literary fiction alike. “In fact, the story is so enticing that in 2015 it was announced that the book is in the works to be a movie starring everyone’s favorite Highlander Sam Heughan alongside Melissa Benoist of Glee and Supergirl fame. Fast forward two years to now and with the movie details still in flux (as per the Hollywood norm) the Heughan and Benoist duo is no longer exclusively attached, however I’m keeping *my* fingers crossed that when My Oxford Year hits the big screen, it’ll be with these two stars attached!
Although you will have to wait until April 24 to get your hands on a copy of the book, and even longer until you can see the story come to life on the big screen, Bustle is thrilled to present the first chapter of My Oxford Year just for our readers. Read below and get ready to fall in love.
Fingers crossed he firmly attaches to this project.
I’ve added HD screencaptures of Sam from last night’s episode of Outlander. What a great episode. Enjoy!
Outlander sneak peek: Claire and Jamie discover two unexpected companions
As if Jamie and Claire didn’t have enough to worry about with Ian’s disappearance!
In this exclusive clip from Sunday’s episode of Outlander, the couple discovers they have two unexpected companions aboard the Artemis: Fergus (Cesar Domboy) and his new girlfriend Marsali (Lauren Lyle), who hand-fasted back in Scotland and are now eager to live their lives as, ahem, a married couple!
Outlander airs Sundays at 8 p.m. ET on Starz.
Entertainment Weekly released the photo session for their cover issue and some new Outlander stills! Enjoy.
Outlander: Inside Jamie and Claire’s ‘rough’ adventure, plus season 4 intel
Put away those steel drums and forget about the Planter’s Punch: Though Jamie and Claire are about to set sail for Jamaica in Sunday’s episode of Outlander, it will be anything but a Caribbean vacation for the not-so-euphorically happy couple.
“There are no umbrella drinks going on,” teases executive producer Matthew B. Roberts. “It is rough going for both of them.”
In breathless anticipation of the drama’s final five episodes, EW returned to Scotland to chat with Caitriona Balfe (Claire Randall Fraser) and Sam Heughan (Jamie Fraser) about the passionate reunion of their characters in episode 5 and how love doesn’t necessarily conquer all when so much time has passed.
“The hard work in any relationship is getting beyond the fantasy,” Balfe tells EW. “That’s when all the truth comes out and Claire learns everything. You want it all to go smooth sailing. But reality is never like that. It’s not the Disney dream.”
But something magical will happen in the coming episodes. For this week’s cover, EW is offering fans an exclusive first look of the fancy togs Claire and Jamie don to attend a lavish ball in Jamaica. If you think the costumes look familiar, then you would be right; the couple wore them at the Palace of Versailles during season two.
“It’s an Easter egg,” says costume designer Terry Dresbach of Jamie’s smart suit and Claire’s sumptuous saffron gown. It’s also historically accurate to re-purpose the outfits. “In the 18th century, people would have an item of clothing for their entire lifetime,” she adds. “So things got remade, repaired, and reconfigured. We will see that a lot in Outlander coming up.”
For the next issue of Entertainment Weekly, we’ll give some hints about what Claire and Jamie will encounter in the Caribbean while on the hunt for Young Ian (John Bell). We’ll also share some secrets about season 4, like how a green pasture in Scotland will double as a North Carolina plantation owned by Aunt Jocasta, a key character in the new year that will be played by Maria Doyle Kennedy.
And good news, Sassenachs! We’ve created another trio of Outlander covers to go with the last set. The first two below, featuring Heughan and Balfe individually, will be available to subscribers and on newsstands Friday. The third, showing the two actors together, will be available exclusively at Barnes & Noble stores beginning Tuesday, Aug. 29.
Sam Heughan has super fans. They’re not casual admirers; they don’t just ask for autographs and snap selfies. They’re on the popstar level—not just fans but fanatics. They camp out on the sidewalk overnight; they dedicate their free time to making hyperactive social media fan pages; they hyperventilate at the mere sight of the guy. Justin Bieber might understand.
The actor has the incredible success of his show, Outlander, to thank for his fame. The time-traveling drama has crafted a unique cult following and reawakened the lust for romanticized love in modern television. (And if you think it’s not for you, you should probably reconsider.) As Jamie Fraser, the fiercely loyal husband to costar Caitriona Balfe’s Claire Fraser, he’s not only a principle mover of the plot, but a lightning rod for audience obsession.
Of course, bedroom eyes and tortured love aren’t the only defining features of Outlander. It’s also set in Scotland, where Heughan was born and bred. The setting is the perfect background for the show, and the style influence that comes through on screen is one that tracks through to Heughan’s personal life as well. We talked him about the success of the show, his Scottish upbringing, and his own style evolution.
On his personal style
My personal style is a mix of of practicality, functionality, but also classic and high-quality fabrics as well. I’m a big fan of Scottish tweed and herringbone—a lot of my kilts are herringbone. Tartan as well. I think I look for something quality and something that’s maybe handcrafted. It feels good, it’s comfortable, and also the quality of the texture—it feels good, it’s comforting. A lot of the detailing in the jackets [Heughan has a capsule collection with iconic UK outerwear brand Barbour], there’s Scottish tartan or tweed on the cuffs. It’s about fine details and practicality. It’s about layering, about being cozy, and about being stylish as well.
On working with Barbour
We’ve been working on this collection for almost a year. They’ve taken into account all the things I love about Scotland, and about clothing. I think they’ve incorporated it beautifully. Barbour has this great tradition of manufacturing. It’s all handmade, and it’s a great investment. If you buy one of these jackets, it’s going to last you a lifetime.
On his Scottish influence
I’ve got three formal kilts and two less formal, for when I’m drinking beer. A lot of the landscape of Scotland and the weather and the fibers and fabrics—it’s all reflected in the Barbour collection, especially the tartan element. Scotland is always with me; I’m a proud Scotsman. I think when you wear a piece of this collection, you have a bit of Scotland with you.
On cutting his long hair from the show
I like [my grooming] slightly rugged, slightly loose. I’m a guy; we want to just throw it in and be done. I use Kevin Murphy products. I was desperate to have my hair short, but I kind of miss long hair. You might see it again.
On the success of Outlander
We’ve been working on it for four years, and it’s just amazing. This is my favorite season, probably because there’s a lot of Jamie in it. But every episode is different. It’s given me so many great opportunities. It really comes down to the fans; they’ve supported us, they’ve guided us, and they’ve given us their opinions. It’s amazing.
I’ve added HD screencaptures from tonight’s episode of Outlander. What a great episode. What did you think? Enjoy the photos.
Sam, Caitriona, and other Outlander cast are in attendance to the BAFTA Scotland Awards today. I’ve added photos to the gallery. Be sure to visit my Caitriona site, Caitriona-Balfe.com for Caitriona photos at the event. More photos to come!
— BAFTA Scotland (@BAFTAScotland) November 5, 2017
Outlander’s Sam Heughan Talks Jamie and Claire’s Long-Awaited Reunion
On the cusp of superstardom, the Scottish actor opens up about the print shop reunion, his passionate fans, and getting in—and out—of Jamie Fraser’s head.
Fans have been waiting more than 20 years to watch tonight’s episode of Outlander play out onscreen, but Sam Heughan tries not to think about that. “All the way through shooting, we’re very aware that people are fans of the books,” he says with a short laugh. “You want to do a good job and don’t want to disappoint anyone… [but] you have to play the truth of it.”
Heughan doesn’t have to worry about disappointing his fans. His onscreen chemistry with co-star Caitriona Balfe is exactly what took Outlander from book club favorite to global phenomenon. As Claire and Jamie Fraser, Balfe and Heughan electrified an eight-book (and counting), 26-year-old series, turning a quiet yet passionate following into a rabid fandom complete with hundreds of fan sites and social media accounts (dubbing themselves “Heughligans,” “Caitrionation,” or “Sassenachs,” after Jamie’s nickname for Claire), thousands of pages of fan fiction, and countless hours queueing for meet-and-greets and conventions. It’s all devoted to the passionate, provocative relationship between a time-traveling World War II nurse and her 18th-century Scottish Highlander husband, as well as the actors who play them.
Heughan doesn’t seem to have fully processed the furor surrounding him, even after four years inside Jamie Fraser’s head. He’s almost bemused by the attention, swearing it has nothing to do with him and everything to do with the books’ author: “The longer we play these characters, the more I realize how lucky we are,” he tells me, settling into a chair on the set of his BAZAAR.com photo shoot. Wearing a simple white T-shirt and black jeans, his natural blonde hair cropped shorter than the red curls Outlander fans are accustomed to, Heughan looks a bit younger than 37—certainly not pushing 50, like his character this season. He’s right in the middle of promotion for Outlander Season 3, and before our interview had already appeared on Live with Kelly and Ryan, posed for a photographer, and filmed a video with Balfe. He’s probably tired, but that doesn’t stop him from indulging in some speculation about Jamie and Claire’s appeal. “Clearly something’s been created there that people are invested in, and I think it all comes down to Diana Gabaldon and her stories and her books.”
Tonight’s episode adapts one of the most important, beloved scenes in Voyager, the third book in the series on which Outlander is based. It marks a literal homecoming for the show, one of those crucial, highly-anticipated moments which defines a series while completely altering its course. After spending two decades apart—separated by two centuries, no less—Claire finally returns to Jamie and life in the 18th century. “We tried to be as honest as we could be,” Heughan says of the Frasers’ long-awaited reunion. “What’s it like for two people who have not only not seen each other for 20 years, but were deeply in love and have shared some history together, then actually moved on?”The circumstances are a bit more complicated than that. If you’re reading this, you probably already know the details: Claire Randall falls through mysterious standing stones (think Stonehenge but smaller) while honeymooning in Scotland after World War II, landing right in the midst of a skirmish between Scottish Highlanders and the British Army in 1743. As a “Sassenach” (English person) in Scotland, she’s always in danger, so, somewhat reluctantly, she marries one of the Highlanders, Jamie Fraser, for her own safety. When she finally has the chance to return to her first husband in the 1940s, she’s in love (and having great sex) with Jaime and decides to stay. The couple embark on a mission to prevent the Battle of Culloden, a devastating 1746 clash between rebelling Scotsmen and the British army which marks the beginning of the end for the Highland clans and their culture. When they ultimately fail in their endeavor, Jamie encourages Claire to return to the 20th century to protect their unborn child from the battle’s fallout.
The last time viewers saw the couple onscreen together, in the Season 2 finale, they were saying a tearful goodbye at the stones, Claire preparing to return to the 1940s and Jamie intent on dying alongside his comrades on Culloden field. They depart with the knowledge they’ll never see each other again, setting up Season 3 for an intense exploration of grief and love lost before uniting the couple once again.
Though their reunion is a crucial moment in the series, those early episodes chronicling Jamie’s despair were some of Heughan’s favorite to shoot. “I think Jamie without Claire is what’s interesting. Who is he? He’s a very young man when he first met her,” Heughan says almost wistfully. “It’s good that he goes through those experiences. He becomes a father, he loses his fellow countrymen, he loses his sense of his home. He has to really be reminded of what he has left to live for.”
While Claire’s storyline charts a strained stability as she returns to a complicated relationship with her first husband and takes on motherhood and med school in the 20th century, Jamie’s trajectory is pure chaos. After narrowly avoiding death at Culloden, the British label him a traitor and force him into hiding in a cave on his family’s property (“he’s just living on his wits, not feral, but he’s shut down to the world,” Heughan says). He turns himself in to for the ransom money for his sister and family and goes to prison for a seven-year stint (“I always imagine that he’s comfortable there,” Heughan says of the rat-infested jail, “because he’s living in the memory of [Claire]”). Later, while working as a groomsman at a grand English estate, he fathers a child after the family’s oldest daughter blackmails him into sleeping with her. Heughan threw himself—physically and mentally—into exploring these disparate storylines while simultaneously grappling with Jamie’s despair over the loss of Claire and their child. “He goes through all the stages of grief: anger and disillusionment and then hope, and ultimately acceptance of the fact that she’s gone,” he says. “It does affect you, especially Episode 2 [in the cave], which is very internal. Just the sheer physicality of him, I felt like he was really hunched over all the time. You see in those four episodes that he experiences a lot, and that’s what makes him the man he is when we visit him in the print shop.”
The “print shop” refers to the site of Claire and Jamie’s long-awaited reunion, made possible after their now-grown daughter, Brianna, discovers proof Jamie survived Culloden. At Bree’s urging, Claire decides to take the dangerous trip through the stones to return to Jamie, working as a printer in late 1760s Edinburgh under the pseudonym Alexander Malcolm. “Claire has time to come to terms with it, but Jamie doesn’t,” Heughan says. “He’s not expecting to see Claire ever again.” When he realizes he’s not imagining her, he faints. “He’s heard her a lot through the past few years, so at first, he doesn’t even trust himself, it’s like, ‘It’s just another memory,’” Heughan says. “And when she actually is here, well, we see his reaction, don’t we? Which I know is a big part of the book. You don’t expect that out of him.”