There is an almost endless supply of novels about college friends: Brideshead Revisited, The Group, The Secret History, The Line of Beauty, The Emperor’s Children and many others. But more intriguing to me are books set in college town, and in particular, Oxford. They all go into the summer reading list.
The Way Through the Woods by Colin Dexter
It is perhaps the quintessential Morse novel. Its title, part of the couplet, “There once was a way through the woods / Before they planted the trees” is taken from a poem by Rudyard Kipling.
Zuleika Dobson by Max Beerbohm
It was Beerbohm’s only novel and is a satire of university life at Oxford in the very early twentieth century.
To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis
The story is told through the eyes of Ned Henry, a time traveling historian in the not-too-distant future, as we witness his adventures into the late Victorian past.
Dirty Tricks by Michael Dibdin
A teacher of English as a foreign language moves to Oxford after several years abroad. His adulterous affair with a friend’s wife leads to very dire consequences.
The Lessons by Naomi Alderman
Hidden away in an Oxford back street is a crumbling Georgian mansion, unknown to any but the few who possess a key to its unassuming front gate. It’s a conventional coming of age narrative ensconced in all the adornment of an elite university.