As the result of a transatlantic parental romance, I was born in America and spent my formative years in central Virginia. I came to England to attend Oxford University when I was eighteen, read and wrote for three years, then had to get a job. After some dismal office work and some even more dismal waitressing, I now work at Heywood Hill bookshop in Mayfair. It’s been there since 1936 and we specialise in monthly book subscriptions tailored to your personal preferences; check it out.

I generally read anywhere between fourteen and twenty books a month (exceptional circumstances have resulted in much lower or higher figures in given months). Most of these fall somewhere on the spectrum of “literary fiction”; my genre reading tends to be on the literary end of historical fiction, science fiction and fantasy, and occasional crime and horror. In nonfiction I tend to like some social history, memoir, cultural criticism, and theology, and am particularly interested in work that deals with queerness, sex and sexuality, God, death and dying, disability, literary criticism, music, the natural world, occasional law and true crime, or (niche, this) deep dives into a particular industry or lifestyle. Favoured authors include (but are not limited to) James Baldwin, Lucia Berlin, Octavia Butler, A.S. Byatt, Willa Cather, Ted Chiang, Zen Cho, George Eliot, Bernardine Evaristo, Jasper Fforde, EM Forster, Tana French, Elizabeth Gaskell, Josie George, Nicola Griffith, Sarah Hall, Thomas Hardy, Siri Hustvedt, Gayl Jones, Olivia Laing, Philip Larkin, Ursula K. Le Guin, Audre Lorde, Carmen Maria Machado, Jon McGregor, China Mieville, Sarah Moss, Flannery O’Connor, Tim Pears, Richard Powers, Namwali Serpell, Zadie Smith, Francis Spufford, Neal Stephenson, JRR Tolkien, Anthony Trollope, Ivan Turgenev, Elise Valmorbida, Jeff VanderMeer, Colson Whitehead, and Virginia Woolf.

I used to write sporadically but enthusiastically for Litro Magazine and helped to establish Quadrapheme Magazine (now defunct). I completed my first novel, Hungry Generations, in 2019 and seek representation for it, on and off (mostly off; querying sucks). My current creative project is a medical memoir-cum-history of Type I diabetes, which I was diagnosed with at age three. I’ve been on the Women’s Prize and Young Writer of the Year Award shadow panels, and was an official judge for the 2022 Barbellion Prize. I’m working towards a PhD in English Literature at Birkbeck, University of London: my academic interests include eighteenth-century literature (with particular interest in depictions of sex workers), sexuality, queerness, colonialism and capitalism.

If you are a publicist: please read the above paragraph before asking me to read one of your books. At the moment I am not accepting requests for reviews or blog tours. If you’d like to send me a copy of a book, please DM me on Twitter (@EleanorFranzen) for my home address.

You can follow me on Twitter here, on Instagram here, and on Goodreads here. I have LinkedIn but rarely check it. If you’re a current or former Year in Books subscriber, or are interested in the subscription service, please use my professional email to get in touch: eleanor at heywoodhill dot com.

If you like what I write, why not buy me a coffee?


19 thoughts on “About

  1. Dearest Sonjia–I’ve added a thingie underneath the “Pages” list; there’s a Follow button you can click, and it should take you to a form where you can enter your email address. Thanks for mentioning it! ~E

  2. How awesome you have such an American influence. Between my mother being Mexican, having studied English and American literature at uni and growing up with sitcoms like Frasier, Friends, Seinfeld, The Larry Sanders Show, Everybody Loves Raymond and Fresh Prince I think it’s something I’ve had all through my life.

    1. That’s cool–your mum’s Mexican? Did she come to the UK or did your parents meet elsewhere? Being a dual citizen is great fun, although Americans think I’m British and the British, of course, usually identify me as American (some go for Irish. I’ve also been asked if I’m a farmer–apparently the hard “r” sounds are sufficiently like a Gloucestershire twang…!)

      1. They met in London by complete chance/fate. A pretty cool story really. No surprise I grew up a romantic and a lover of books. Being pale skinned and half Mexican does seem to baffle everyone. I’m really curious to hear your accent now…

  3. Hi! I’m so pleased to have found your blog. You read a variety of literary fiction; many that I have never heard about!

    And we’re on the same boat: graduated with a B.A. in English and now trying to trudge through life as a functional human being…

    Good luck with everything!

  4. Dear Elle:

    Apologies for posting publicly, but I did not see an e-mail listed. I enjoyed your blog, Elle Thinks, and would like to request a book review. You can check out a sample chapter, blog and bio at theoryofirony.com and/or contact me at theoryofirony1@gmail.com.


  5. So, you might be one of two kind of people–the kind who think these awards are stupid, or the kind who has received so many, they don’t even have time to think about them anymore. But if you’re the third kind (the kind who’s flattered by praise from strangers), I hope you’ll be happy to know that I nominated you for a One Lovely Blog Award.

    The link is here (https://dearlilyjune.wordpress.com/2016/10/26/raging-lovelies-on-the-occasion-that-you-need-early-lily-trivia/), but so you don’t think this is just shameful self-promotion for my own blog, I’ve also included what I wrote about you below (so you don’t feel forced to visit my page if you don’t want to!)

    Of your blog, I wrote:
    “Elle Thinks–Authors of the world, take note: The Pulitzer is outmoded. You should now all be competing for a good Elle review.”

    Stay lovely & whatnot, Alyssa

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s