Oxford Messed Up is a unique literary love story that transports readers on a meaningful and emotional journey where the academic world of Oxford, the music of Van Morrison, and an old claw-foot bathtub serve as a backdrop for learning, self-discovery, and transcendent love.
Rhodes Scholar Gloria Zimmerman is an academic superstar who has come to Oxford University to study feminist poetry. Yet the rigors of the academy pale in comparison to her untreated Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, fueled by her overachieving parents and manifested in a deathly aversion to germs and human contact. Her next-door neighbor (who is also, to her mortification, her loo-mate) is Henry Young, the appealing but underachieving musician son of an overbearing and disapproving Oxford don.
Still mourning the death of his supportive mother while enduring the mockery of his disapproving and merciless father, Henry is haunted by the unexpectedly serious ramifications of a reckless and tragic youth. Gloria and Henry's relationship evolves from a shared obsession with Van Morrison's music into a desire on the part of each to fill in the gaps in the life of the other. Yet the constraints of a debilitating illness and the looming revelation of a catastrophic secret conspire to throw their worlds into upheaval and threaten the possibilities of their unlikely yet redemptive love.
With 19 out of 20 reviewers rating it 4 or 5 stars, Andrea Kayne Kaufman's Oxford Messed Up is a top pick among BookBrowse readers! Here's what they have to say:
Oxford Messed Up is the story of two highly original characters destined to be together. I enjoyed the unique personality of Gloria, who attempts to rise above OCD; and Henry, trying to overcome the chains of remorse from a demonized past. They share a bathroom and a devotion to Van Morrison, and they believe in each other when paralyzed by their own self-doubt (Pepper E). I loved this book. Andrea Kaufman does a marvelous job creating characters with major personality flaws and turns them into people with heart and substance... I especially enjoyed the intellectual aspects of the book as Gloria writes and comments about her women poets and she collaborates with Henry regarding the poetry/music of Van Morrison. For me, the book worked on many levels, and I was truly pleased with the results (Beth C). Oxford Messed Up is a smart, compelling book (Amy M); it is believable, and keeps the reader's interest. I'm looking forward to more from this author (Karen B). (Reviewed by BookBrowse First Impression Reviewers).
You will root for Henry and Gloria, suffer with them through their setbacks and celebrate their victories. Andrea Kayne Kaufman is to be commended for writing such a compelling and inspiring first novel.
Elyn Saks, J.D., Ph.D., 2009 winner of the MacArthur Genius Grant and author of The Center Cannot Hold: My Journey Through Madness
A beautifully written and compelling love story about two messed up people who help each other face and overcome their demons... Oxford Messed Up shows nothing less than the redemptive power of love.
Kathleen McCartney, Ph.D., Dean of the Harvard Graduate School of Education
In her first novel, Andrea Kayne Kaufman asks whether each of us, messed up in our own way, can choose to embrace happiness... I couldn't put this book down because Kaufman makes you care deeply about the individual journeys of her two protagonists.
Recent Reader Reviews
Rated of 5
by Suzanne G. A good story Gloria and Henry share a bathroom at Oxford. Gloria, majoring in feminist poetry, is plagued with OCD while Henry is a lagging personality majoring in music. Their love evolves through all Gloria’s problems with OCD and Henry’s laziness. Van... Read More
Rated of 5
by Suchi Oxford Messed Up - Delightful literary feast A moving and poignant tale about two messed up people trying to find true love against a back drop of dead women poets and Van Morrison's optimistically enchanting music.
On the surface Gloria and Henry look like normal people, much like a brand... Read More
Rated of 5
by Amy M. (Brooklyn, NY) Oxford Messed Up is a smart, compelling book! Gloria Zimmerman, who suffers from an extreme case of OCD, and Henry Young, a former drug addict, meet at Oxford University when they discover that their dorm rooms share a bathroom. These brilliant people are drawn to one another, recognizing in... Read More
Rated of 5
by Karen B. (Bethlehem, PA) Oxford Messed Up I work in academia and thought I would enjoy this book. I was not disappointed. I probably come into contact with someone like Gloria or Henry regularly. When I started reading the book, I wanted to shake both of them. I wanted Gloria to get... Read More
Rated of 5
by Kathy P. (Saratoga, CA) Oxford Messed Up A passing thought in early pages was that it was the printer who messed up by publishing this book. That's a joke, but it does start very slowly. The first really interesting thing doesn't happen until the end of Chapter 9! Despite an initial... Read More
Rated of 5
by Cindy (Bryan, Texas) Unusual and Fascinating At first I was not certain this book was for me; the first few chapters dragged, and the two main characters showed little personality. But Kaufman was being clever, for when Henry and Gloria finally meet in Oxford it reminded me of the first time... Read More
In Andrea Kayne Kaufman's Oxford Messed Up, Rhodes Scholar Gloria Zimmerman (who has Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder) and Henry Young (an underachieving, drug-addicted musician) become unlikely friends when they're forced to share a bathroom in the Oxford University dorms. Over time, these "loo-mates" learn that, despite their differences, they have some things in common - not the least of which is a shared obsession with the music of Van Morrison.
George Ivan Morrison (born August 31, 1945) hails from Belfast, Northern Ireland. He began his musical career as a young man in the 50s, playing cover songs with Irish show bands. His talent and fluency with numerous instruments - he plays the guitar, drums, keyboards, harmonica, saxophone, ukulele, tambourine, and sings - captured people's attention. By 1964 he had begun his professional musical career with the British...
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