California Literary Review

Profile of Elinor Teele


Elinor Teele is a freelance writer and photographer living in Massachusetts. In addition to reviews and essays, she writes short stories, novels and plays for children and adults. An adopted New Zealander, she holds a PhD in English Literature from the University of Cambridge, England.

Email Address:

teele (at) squamcreativeservices (dot) com

Web Site:

Articles written for the California Literary Review:

  • Book Review: Charles Dickens: A Life by Claire Tomalin
    Posted on 06 Nov 2011 in Biography, Books, Great Britain, Non-Fiction Reviews, Writers

    The happiness was not to last. More Scrooge than Bob Cratchit in some respects, he was not particularly fond of his sons. Charley, his eldest, he deemed to be suffering from a “lassitude of character” and he did not see much hope for the others. He worried they might metamorphose into his father or his brothers, relying on him for handouts. And he was becoming thoroughly sick of Catherine.

  • Book Review: Blue Nights by Joan Didion
    Posted on 30 Oct 2011 in Biography, Books, Non-Fiction Reviews, Writers

    We learn that Quintana Roo was adopted, a beautiful precocious girl with hair “bleached by the beach sun” and an unearthly adult sensibility. At the age of 5, she called the state psychiatric facility to “find out what she needed to do if she was going crazy;” soon after, she called Twentieth-Century Fox to “find out what she needed to do to be a star.”

  • Book Review: Pauline Kael: A Life in the Dark by Brian Kellow
    Posted on 24 Oct 2011 in Biography, Books, Movies, Non-Fiction Reviews, Writers

    So if she wasn’t pleasant, what was Pauline Kael? She was earthy; she was tough; she was not afraid of sex, drugs or Woody Allen. Cigarettes and bourbon were her loyal companions. The East Coast establishment and prissy editors her enemies. As Jerry Lewis said, she was a “dirty old broad.” But he also called her “the most qualified critic in the world. “ Both, I think, she would have perceived as compliments.

  • Book Review: Floating Worlds: The Letters of Edward Gorey and Peter F. Neumeyer
    Posted on 15 Sep 2011 in Art, Books, Children's Literature, Non-Fiction Reviews, Writers

    Neumeyer responded with scholarly esprit, but he was hard put to equal his partner’s digressions. The works of Jorge Luis Borges, the wonders of Japanese court poetry, the inadequacy of The Yellow Submarine – having found a sympathetic spirit, Gorey let loose a torrent of opinions about anything in his path.

  • Book Review: Cleopatra: A Biography by Duane W. Roller
    Posted on 10 May 2010 in Biography, Egypt, Non-Fiction Reviews

    Pity Duane W. Roller, author of Cleopatra: A Biography. I can just imagine the initial conversation at the Oxford University Press: “We want you to write a biography of Cleopatra, sensuous queen of the Egyptians, famed figure of ancient history.” “Excellent, as Professor Emeritus of Greek and Latin at The Ohio State University, I’d be thrilled to delve into a world of intrigue and shifting political sands.” “Good. But no sex, please, we’re British.”

  • Book Review: Wild Romance: A Victorian Story of a Marriage, a Trial, and a Self-Made Woman by Chloë Schama
    Posted on 26 Apr 2010 in Biography, Great Britain, Non-Fiction Reviews, Sex

    A secret affair. A scandalous sex-filled trial. A tell-all novel. If it’s any consolation to Tiger Woods and Jesse James, they’re not the first to be stripped down to their Jockeys on a worldwide scale. Welcome, William Charles Yelverton, Victorian seducer.

  • Book Review: Shakespeare’s Lost Kingdom: The True History of Shakespeare and Elizabeth by Charles Beauclerk
    Posted on 06 Apr 2010 in Non-Fiction Reviews, Theatre, Writers

    I would have thought Shakespeare in Love might have advanced our understanding of the authorship debate, but apparently not. Writers are still assuming that Shakespeare, be he lowly or lordly, wrote in some kind of mysterious vacuum, where learning stopped after the age of twenty. The idea that an Elizabethan dramatist could collaborate with his fellow actors, seek advice from scholars, listen to firsthand accounts from worldly patrons, observe royal scandals from backstage or borrow a bloody book now and again is apparently impossible.

  • Book Review: The American Girl by Monika Fagerholm
    Posted on 04 Mar 2010 in Fiction Reviews

    It’s a radioactive fairy tale, with adults known only by nicknames (the Black Sheep, the baroness) and facts twisted into fantasies. Ever seen Heavenly Creatures? There’s a bit of that in here – the overheated imaginings of two girls on the edge of puberty.

  • The Swan Thieves by Elizabeth Kostova
    Posted on 12 Jan 2010 in Art, Fiction Reviews

    Oliver won’t socialize. He won’t even speak. He simply spends his days wrapped in his obsession, a pattern that is only slightly modified when he is given painting materials. For then he takes to painting a dark-haired woman over and over again.

  • Last Night in Twisted River by John Irving
    Posted on 07 Jan 2010 in Fiction Reviews

    For Last Night in Twisted River is the work of a seasoned tale-teller, a writer who can blend his own life (a breakthrough novel on the fourth try, stints in Iowa under the tutelage of Kurt Vonnegut) with Danny’s and still manage to erase himself in the process. It’s the old story within a story trick, the character we thought to be a third person passive now metamorphosing into a first person active. So by the time we reach the finish, a finish that Irving ties neatly back to the beginning, Danny has provided us with an intriguing meditation on the process of fiction writing.

  • The Imperial Cruise: A Secret History of Empire and War by James Bradley
    Posted on 08 Dec 2009 in History, Japan, Non-Fiction Reviews

    James Bradley doesn’t like Theodore Roosevelt. Let’s get that clear from the get-go. Nor does he have much time for William Howard Taft, the gargantuan gourmand, Roosevelt’s right-hand man and his successor as president. And after reading The Imperial Cruise: A Secret History of Empire and War, I have the sneaky suspicion that there’s not much love lost for George Bush, either.

  • Nicole Atkins: Femme Noir
    Posted on 26 Oct 2009 in Music, Performing Arts

    She’s been called the female Roy Orbison, a psychedelic metalhead who grew up listening to Elvis and Patsy Cline. She adores Robert Plant and Led Zeppelin, does covers of Patti Smith and reminds listeners of Dusty Springfield. She has a voice like gray autumn skies and a fondness for nightmares. Classify Nicole Atkins at your peril.

  • Game Six: Cincinnati, Boston, and the 1975 World Series by Mark Frost
    Posted on 21 Oct 2009 in Non-Fiction Reviews, Sports

    Baseball’s World Series. 1975. The Cincinnati Reds, manager Sparky Anderson’s Big Red Machine, are up 3 games to 2 against Darrell Johnson’s scrappy Red Sox. After a three-day rain delay that has drowned any hope of an inning, the sun rises on the oldest Major League stadium still in use. It’s Tuesday, October 21, at Fenway Park.

  • The Bigness of the World by Lori Ostlund
    Posted on 13 Oct 2009 in Fiction Reviews, Short Stories

    The Bigness of the World, Ostlund’s first collection of short stories, was good enough for the judges of the Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction. She won the prize in 2008. Deservedly so, for Ostlund has an ear, an appendage often ignored by writers in favor of the flashier eye. Alive to the subtext of the everyday, she uses flat conversations as a front for complicated back-stories…

  • Little Bird of Heaven by Joyce Carol Oates
    Posted on 08 Sep 2009 in Fiction Reviews

    Krista and Aaron eventually do meet, in a shocking incident that leaves little space for spoken words. What Aaron does to Krista and how Krista responds – these are not things that can be easily classified. They are the actions and responses of broken souls. And broken souls don’t have the energy to behave appropriately.

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