How to be a Heroine

How to be a Heroine was published by Chatto & Windus in 2014.

"Fantastically inspirational"—Viv Groskop, Observer

"Wise, courageous and endlessly generous, Ellis is something of a heroine herself." — Frances Wilson, Literary Review

"A life-affirming feminist text"—Lee Randall, The Scotsman.

"A love letter to the world of books"—Miranda Kennedy in the LA Review of Books

It made the books of the year in Harper's Bazaar, the Sunday Herald, the IndependentClothes in Books, and the Chicago Reader. It was one of the Mail's must-reads, and it made the 2016 Amelia Bloomer List of recommended feminist books. Jacqueline Wilson picked it as one of her six favourite books. Bustle included it in 13 Books That Could Help You Find Yourself.

Buy it in the UK at Waterstones, Foyles, LRB, Amazon
Buy it in the US at Barnes & Noble, Indiebound, Amazon.
Buy it in Sweden at Albert Bonniers.

Cathy Earnshaw or Jane Eyre?
Petrova or Posy?Scarlett or Melanie?Lace or Valley of the Dolls?
On a pilgrimage to Wuthering Heights, Samantha Ellis found herself arguing with her best friend about which heroine was best: Jane Eyre or Cathy Earnshaw. She was all for wild, passionate Cathy; but her friend found Cathy silly, a snob, while courageous Jane makes her own way.
And that’s when Samantha realised that all her life she’d been trying to be Cathy when she should have been trying to be Jane.
So she decided to look again at her heroines – the girls, women, books that had shaped her ideas of the world and how to live. Some of them stood up to the scrutiny (she will always love Lizzy Bennet); some of them most decidedly did not (turns out Katy Carr from What Katy Did isn’t a carefree rebel, she’s a drip). There were revelations (the real heroine of Gone with the Wind? It's Melanie), joyous reunions (Anne of Green Gables), poignant memories (Sylvia Plath) and tearful goodbyes (Lucy Honeychurch). And then there was Jilly Cooper...
How To Be A Heroine is Samantha’s funny, touching, inspiring exploration of the role of heroines, and our favourite books, in all our lives – and how they change over time, for better or worse, just as we do.



Some more reviews:

"All the books I love, remembered."—Nigella Lawson

"Not so much self-help as shelf-help" — Eithne Farry, Marie Claire

"Warm and funny"—Sophie Kinsella, The Lady

"Any woman...with a remotely bookish childhood will find great pleasure in How to be a Heroine"—Daisy Goodwin, Sunday Times

"My new best friend in book form...like stumbling into the kitchen at a party and discovering everyone you liked in one room."—Sam Baker, Harper's Bazaar

"Anyone who expresses an interest in Eat, Pray, Love should be handed this book instead"—Carlene Bauer, The Tablet

"The soundtrack to Belle's new reading life"—Dana Staves in Book Riot

"A book that sparked my brain and made me want to talk about the girls I've loved—Anne, Lucy, Jo—with the woman that I've become"—Elisabeth Donnelly at Flavorwire

"Delightful and hilarious"—Lucy Farmer, The Economist

"The best kind of book: one that I gobbled up"—Rebecca Armstrong, Independent on Sunday

"If this is a defence of 'reading for wisdom', then the wisdom in her own writing makes an eloquent testimony"—Joanna Thomas-Corr, Evening Standard

"A treasure-trove of once beloved characters"—Lucy Scholes, Independent

"Delightfully funny and warmly honest"—Eithne Farry, Mail

"You'll love Ellis's enthusiasm and humour"—Caroline Goldstein in Bustle

"Amusing...breezy"—Cressida Connolly, Spectator

"A real treat"—Good Housekeeping

"Jaunty, witty"—Ruth Scurr, Telegraph

"Pithy, funny and poignant"—Simon Round, Jewish Chronicle

"It fizzes along"—Glamour

"Fascinating"—Rebecca Foster at Booktrib

"A delightful journey down the bookish rabbit hole of female characters and their creators"—Meganne Fabrega at the Star Tribune

"Compelling insights about the narratives of women's lives"—Anne Boyd Rioux at The Rumpus

"A smash"—Grace Labatt at Santa Fe New Mexican

"Warm-spirited biblio-autobiography"—Claire Harman, Guardian

"Honest and open-hearted"—Susan Hill, The Times

"Celebrates but also bravely criticises great literary heroines whom most would not dare to challenge"—Frieda Ford in The Lady

"Ellis becomes as much a heroine as the women who inspired her."—Tracey Sinclair in Exeunt

"Witty charmer of a memoir"—Cathleen Medwick in More magazine

"A gem for any bibliophile"—Ms magazine

"Ellis rejects the notion that life just happens to women"—PopMatters

"Nostalgic, clear-eyed, critical"—Dana Staves at BookRiot

"Warm and welcoming—like chatting to a big sister"—Lizzy Dening, Grazia

"Unusually candid"—Hannah Rosefield, Prospect

"Incisive and hilarious"—Kasia Hopkins at The News Gazette

"I can't recommend How to be a Heroine highly enough"—Naomi Frisby at The Writes of Woman

"A celebration of the companionship reading brings"—Emily Rhodes, Emily Books (and books of the year for 2014)

"I want to be bolder"—Marissa Skudlarek in San Francisco Theatre Pub

"All books should be this much fun to read"—Madam J-Mo

"A brilliant book."—Nicola Beauman, Persephone Books

"Sensitive and witty"—Bidisha

"Fantastically empowering"—Kat Brown, Domestic Sluttery

"Her voice—hyper verbal, witty, pragmatic, learned and emotional—is one of the strongest I've read recently. Best of all...she has written herself a barnstorming ending: a culmination of confessional writing, joyful imagination and clever reasoning that might just really help people. What more, frankly, could a heroine hope for?"—Daisy Parente, Book Reporter

"Lovely...moving and astute and fascinating"—Emma Beddington aka Belgian Waffle

"This book is made of awesome"—Lit Nerd

"For anyone who grew up reading late into the night beneath the covers"—Leah Dearborn on LitReactor

"A book for anyone who was once (or perhaps, like me, who still is!) a bookish, slightly odd girl"—Janet at Words That Can Only Be Your Own

"Warm, witty, and makes you want to rush off and re-read all the books"—Sarah LeFanu in CAM magazine

"A joy to read"—Running in Heels

"I loved every minute of reading this book"—Nathalie Foy

"Beautiful and uplifting"—Natalie Sewell at Veni Vidi Green Tea

"Fresh, clever and perceptive"—Jane Brocket

"Just magical"—Alice at Of Books

"Invigoratingly feminist"—Amy Wootten in The Edge

"Flawless"—Ivonne Garcia at The Cat in the Bookshelf

"Very entertaining"—Charlie Edmunds at Screenful of Words

"Anyone with any serious interest in English Literature, storytelling, the development of characters, narrative and feminism should read this charming work"—Julie Mullins at Julie Arts

"A book I wish I had written. You need it in your life"—Paula at Cornflakegirl's Musings

"An entertaining, intelligent read"—Berwyn Peet at Nudge

"The book you want to read and then discuss with all your friends"—Lindsay Stefan at Literary Lindsey

"Stimulating and thought-provoking"—Daisy at Chapter and Verse Reviews

"A brave, intelligent read"—Fran Roberts, The House of Blog

"Irresistible"—Meagan Lacy, Library Journal

"Poignant, hilarious and fascinating"—Carolyn Gruss at Kid Lit Frenzy

"I found myself delighting over this book and devouring it slowly, like a rich chocolate cake. For the woman finding her place, or the wrier looking to find her historical heritage I cannot think of a better book to lose yourself in"—Victoria Irwin at Fan Girl Nation

"How to Be a Heroine made me feel like I was sitting with a friend and gossiping about our favorite books, and I loved it."—Megan Gianniny at The Daily Geekette

"Addictive"—Patricia Duffaud at The Book Bag

"Like having a heartfelt conversation about life and favourite novels with an avid, well-read best friend"—Jenny Hagerty at AustenProse

"Insightful critical"—Jennifer Vega on Effusions of Wit and Humour

"Her love of literature, coupled with a warm, engaging style, makes this feel more like an enjoyable book conversation with a friend than some attempt at armchair literary criticism"—It's a Hardback Life

"The book every reader wishes they had written"—Shaun Byron Fitzpatrick on the Barnes and Noble blog

"Full of the same charm, wit and warmth befitting any good Jane Austen protagonist"—Kristen Zory King at Vegas Seven

"Fascinating and enjoyable"—Kaitlyn at A Comfy Chair

"Pure delight"—Amanda Romine Lynch

"If you have read classic female characters with a passion that has almost seemed scary, you need this book"—Meghan at Loving Literature

"Accessible and thoughtful"—Snark Notes

"Tender...critical"—Davida Chazen at The Chocolate Lady's Book Reviews

"As an avid reader, this memoir of sorts was one of the best I've read"—Rachel at Definitely Not For the Birds

"Literary autobiography on steroids"—Ms Angie at A Series of (Un)Fortunate Reviews

"The perfect combination...of memoir and literature"—Julie G at Book Hooked Blog

"Fresh and funny"—Molly Crumbley at Hey Boo Books

"Fascinating"—Lesa Holstine at Lesa's Book Critiques

"Inspirational"—Eugenia Shmulevich at Jewish Books Are Awesome

"I devoured it"—Jess Gofton at Curiouser and Curiouser

"Delightful!"—Carin Siegfried at Caroline Bookbinder

"A grand literary tour"—Alex Bledsoe

"Awesome...she talks about all her favs like old friends"—Donna at Tell Me a Story

"Enchanting"—Roz Writes

"Witty"—Kristian Wilson in Bustle's 15 Books for Confident Women

"Ellis cheerfully romps across genres"—Orchestrating a Sea Change

"Unique and brilliant"—Read. Write. Repeat.

"A totally glorious celebration of what it is to grow up loving books, a fascinating examination of femininity in literature"—Nicci Cloke, Someday Found

"brilliant, beautifully written and unbelievably insightful"—Feed Me Books Now

"an extraordinary read which had me constantly wanting to go back and read the books of my childhood and teenage years (and beyond)"—Girl Reporter

"She articulates so brilliantly the feeling I have always had—that characters from the books I've read and loved are real people in my life, with just as much influence as actual friends."—Helen Chandler, Life, Love, Books and Cake

"A book to love for its heart, its soul, and its bookishness"—Fleur in Her World

"A really great read that immediately shot to the very top of my personal 'Books That I Wish I'd Thought Of First' list"—Melanie Clegg (Madame Guillotine)

"A delight"—Jeanne Sutton, Image Magazine

"Laugh-out-loud, intensely observed...Nostalgic, warming and a stern lesson for life, How to Be a Heroine should be on everyone’s bookshelf"—Georgia Mizen, The Upcoming

"Compelling...a brilliant read"—Aimee Cottle, Life Through Books

"Like being in a book group without leaving the house"—Katie Fforde

"I was utterly gripped...a brilliant, brilliant read"—Sara Sheridan

"Ellis combines serious intent with wonderful wit, panache, and whilst taking her journey seriously, has great droll fun at her own expense—and that of her heroines"—Lady Fancifull

"Wonderfully entertaining"—Nicola Weideling

"a funny, interesting and intelligent trip through one woman's bookshelf"—JC

"Charming, fascinating and deeply resonant"—Kathy at The Shake

"Funny, brilliant"—Lyn Julius at Point of No Return

"The book I'm most likely to recommend"—Lucybird's Book Blog

"Wonderfully witty"—Ceris Aston in The Skinny

"Pure pleasure—and thought-provoking, revealing, brave, frank and funny too."—Alison Mercer

"This is the book for those of us who really like reading"—Moira Redmond at Clothes in Books

"As a 17 year old girl who has based an alarming number of decisions on what I believed my favourite protagonists would do, I feel like I kind of needed this book"—Sonia Mansouri at Smoke and Velvet

"A rousing call for women to be the heroines in their own lives, and it’s good fun, to boot"—Bridget Thoreson, Booklist starred review

"I felt like this book had been written for me"—Carole Besharah at Barda Book Talk

"Feels like you're talking to a good friend over a glass of wine, with Ellis's charming and witty way with words"—video review from Abby Reads

"I love the whole premise of this book"—The Readist

"Ellis relives her life, sometimes nostalgically, sometimes ruefully, through the novels which once enlivened her. The result is sometimes shocking, but always honest."—Kevin Nenstiel at Wordbasket

"Provoking and interesting"—Sally Allen at HamletHub

"Charming, gracefully-written"—Kirkus Reviews

"A shelf-help book that will help you become the reader, and the person, you always wanted to be"—Cathy Geagan at Eats Plants Reads Books

"Honest and open"—Jenny Duffy at The Books, the Art and Me

"Fun"—Joy Weese Moll

"I am recommending this book to all of my bookish friends"—The Bookish Badger