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Owls Do Cry

4.07 of 5 stars 4.07  ·  rating details  ·  632 ratings  ·  56 reviews
This first novel tells the story of the growing up of the children of an educated but impoverished New Zealand family. Janet Frame is the author of The Carpathians, which won the Commonwealth Prize for Literature in 1989.
Unknown Binding, 196 pages
Published April 30th 1985 by Not Avail (first published 1957)
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(showing 1-30 of 1,521)
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Mariel
Oct 30, 2012 Mariel rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: if chemistry could silence the lion's laugh I'd be fine
Recommended to Mariel by: I don't know hell but I've read about it often
You would think this night that the world sated with blossom and love and death would finish and there would be no memory of it anywhere, save perhaps on a cave wall of new time, where the posturing figures dance unseen their stillness of clay or chalk or stone.
You would think all this on a spring night.
Except the thinking is not real.


The feeling I had a lot when reading Owls Do Cry was of looking out of the corner of your eye. When looking at it full on whatever you expected to see was not ther
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Chrissie
Did I enjoy reading this? No, but that is because of the subject matter. This is a book about the mentally ill, the physically ill, aging and death. It records the darker side of human behavior; how humans behave toward the impoverished, the ill and the aging. The portrayal is uncomfortably accurate.

This was Janet Frame's first novel and it has strong autobiographical elements. She was incorrectly institutionalized as a schizophrenic. She was institutionalized for a decade but avoided a lobotom
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Lanea
Janet Frame is another one of those authors whose books I ration. I discovered Frame's work after I fell for Jane Campion's work. The Piano led to An Angel at My Table, which was based on Frame's autobiography of the same name and some of her other work. Frame died a few years ago after a life of tragedy, astounding accomplishments, and gorgeous writing. Some writers wish they would write like Dickinson or Faulkner or Shakespeare . . . I wish I could write like Frame.

Owls Do Cry was Frame's fir
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Debbie
This is the first Janet Frame book I have ever read so her writing took some getting used to at first - she has her own style which is kind of semi-stream-of-consciousness. She uses punctuation in a very interesting way and some sentences call for a re-read. Once you get the hang of it you realise how rich, deep and beautifully poetic her writing is.

The book is based in 1950s New Zealand and follows the story of one family from Dunedin in the South Island, and goes in-depth into the characters o
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Ensiform
The children of a poor family in New Zealand, the Withers, spend their days searching through rubbish heaps for childish treasures, fearing and suspicious of much (their hard-working, simple father, the nurse at school, the day when they must go face the factories and mills of the adult world). After the eldest girl dies horrifically, the book jumps twenty years ahead: we now see that the youngest is married and trying, poorly, to get on in higher society; Daphne is mute and in a grim mental ins ...more
Anastasia
Mi sento abbastanza scema a venire qui con due stellette e leggere contemporaneamente lodi su lodi sia su anobii che su goodreads (anche se quest'ultimo mi consola con qualche parere almeno un po' affine).
Però, oh, che ci devo fare: io e questo libro eravamo due isole separate da un intero oceano durante la lettura. Non sono entrata dentro alla storia, anzi, spesso non l'ho avvertito nemmeno come un vero e proprio filo narrativo che si dipana: anzi, i capitoli scivolano via senza che si verific
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Sarah
This is genius writing. And, beautiful. And, brave.
It's a bit squeamish-making, which is why I'm not putting this on my "favorites" shelf, but I vehemently recommend it, nevertheless.

If you haven't seen An Angel at My Table, the film about Janet Frame's life, I recommend that as well.

Thank you, again, Jo!
Reenie
Janet Frame's first novel gets you right from the first chapter, just from the way she uses words. I went back and read that over a couple of times before going on, just because the rhythm and the sound of the words rolled around nicely.

Overall, I think it was the language and writing most of all that appeals in this book, although there are also moments where bits and pieces of a character are neatly skewered and laid out for understanding that were great. The epilogue might have been a little
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Emily
This is why I get mad at the publishing industry sometimes. This book should be a classic--it's up there w. such stream of conciousness toucstones as Ulysses and To the lighthouse--the most fascinating language and steeliest eye, clever motifs and full of well earned heart ache though never sentimental
Terri Jacobson
This novel was written in 1960 by the New Zealand author Janet Frame. At it's publishing, it was hailed as the first literary masterpiece from that country. The story is about a poverty-stricken family in the south of New Zealand. There are 4 children--Francie, Daphne, Toby, and Chicks--and the book follows their lives into adulthood. The book has a shattering portrait of mental illness, and it contains the best description of electroshock therapy that I have ever read. Frame's prose is beautifu ...more
Equestrienne
Owls Do Cry is one of those novels that is written very well, in an interesting manner, although I found it difficult to understand exactly what the storyline was.

I decided to read Owls Do Cry for the topic studied in the 1st half of the year (social injustice) because my parents recommended it to me.

This category is fairly interesting, it reveals the things that are/have been wrong with our society and world. It isn't a genre I'd particularly go for if I was book browsing.

I am inclined to be
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Laura J. W.
Starting on page one... "The Day is early with birds beginning and the wren in a cloud piping like the child in the poem, drop thy pipe, thy happy pipe..." this book knocked the wind out of me, and did so on more than one occasion...I couldn't put it down, but forced myself to so I could absorb it in small bites...most definitely a "read it again someday" book. My copy is dog-eared with favorite bits, in some cases, if the bits spilled over to the next page, I dog-eared the bottom corner to indi ...more
Lisa
Owls Do Cry is Janet Frame’s first full-length novel and was hailed as a critical success from the start. First published in 1957 and recently reissued in a 50th anniversary edition (on which this audio book is based), it is the tragic story of the Withers family, from a small town in New Zealand.

The first chapters about the poverty-stricken childhood of Francie, Daphne, Toby and ‘Chicks’ will bring a lump to the throat for most readers. The descriptions of how the ‘dirty’ children are treated
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Mimi
This is a heartbreaking account of tragedy and alienation, but it takes a human scale. Frame's writing is elliptical and poetic, and the story by turns emerges from and dissolves back into her description of the emotional and physical worlds of her characters. She exposes the vulnerability of every character in a way that is both raw and compassionate. Every character--no matter how brief their appearance in the story--struggles with the tremendous weight of their existence in a different way. T ...more
Jade McDonough
Recommended by my grandma and sitting on my bookshelf for years, so we'll see? <-------before reading
After reading -------->
Ever read one of those books that is too metaphoric for it's own good? This is it. Once I finally figured out what was going on I liked it. But it took awhile to figure out what that was with so much of it being buried in vagueness. I also generally don't like walking away from a book feeling like nothing really happened. No characters really progressed or changed or
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Inken Purvis
Possibly one of the saddest books I’ve read in a long time, but totally lacking in sentiment or self-pity. Owls Do Cry has elements of Frame’s own childhood but it is not autobiographical. It is the story of an ordinary New Zealand family seen from a different person’s perspective throughout the novel, namely the three surviving children of Bill and Amy Withers: Toby, the son who has epilepsy; Daphne, the daughter in a mental institution and Theresa (aka Chicks), the “normal” one with social asp ...more
Lucrezia
Bello, scritto bene ma in definitiva dove vuoi arrivare?
Perché io sinceramente non capisco.
Chissà perchè però ho il vago presentimento che con "Un Angelo alla mia tavola" andrà meglio...
Jenna Ackerman
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Karen Heart
I decided I just had to read a Janet Frame novel after seeing the film An Angel at My Table, which is based on Janet Frame's life. I am glad I did and I am glad I saw the movie first because it gave me so much more insight into her world and (I believe) much more understanding about what was happening with the characters in the book.

It is a unique book in how the story is told and presented. It has moments of poetry that flow seamlessly into a story, then flow back into poetry again. This flowin
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Julianne Quaine


First Janet frame book after reading An Angel at my Table. although supposedly not autobiographical It bears significant resemblance to Janet's upbringing and family life. The scenes in Seacliff are very disturbing and one hopes we have improved our management of people tortured by mental illness. It has a distinct NZ flavour. I bought the book in Janet Frame's childhood home in Omarau, south of Christchurch while on holiday there, visiting Omarau because I was reading An Angel at my Table. Wha
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Peter
11.4.2013 Nach meiner ersten Frame (Ein Engel an meiner Tafel) lese ich jetzt ihr allerstes und ruhmbegründendes Buch. Ich freu' mich schon..
20.4.2013 Warum habe ich dieses Buch viel zu schnell gelesen? Weil ich nicht anders konnte. Ein großartiges Sprach-Text-Gemälde viele Bilderdetails. Handlung? Ja auch, aber durch meine Lektüre von ein Engel an meiner Tafel wurde schon einiges an Geschehen vorweggenommen. Somit konnte ich mich auf das "Wesentliche" konzentrieren und das sind eben die kunstvo
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Georgia
What irks me about this book is that there isn't much of a storyline. I quite enjoyed reading Daphne's insane ramblings, but nothing of much significance happens throughout the book. It's beautifully written, but it took me ages to get through because it wasn't a particularly easy read.
Linda
An alarmingly honest look at a poor family in the fifties and sixties in New Zealand. The style is a little difficult to get used to at first but one learns as one reads how to interpret this almost surreal subconscious writing style. Poetic at times. Very raw and real. Makes you think. I grew up in this era when materialism had not quite taken hold and there were many poor families. If we didn't all confirm to the norms then we would all be considered to be a bit nutty. An amazing writer.
Nicholas Cavenagh
Owls Do Cry is loosely based on Frame's childhood and family. This novel is as much poetry as it is prose. It is a challenging read but there are certainly some sublime passages. My main fault with it was that Frame was unconvincing writing in third person as the snobbish sister (in the form of a diary)- it came across as a little cliched and unconvincing. Apart from this it is a bold effort to describe the world that is within us but slightly beyond us - the world in which owls do cry.
Jules Begg
too depressing, well written
Alan Wightman
Had some good moments, and some quite scary ones, particularly descriptions of operations in the asylum. Some of it written in poetry, and the whole thing is intensively autobiographical, being mainly about Frame's family.

I got this from the stack - "out the back" at the Upper Hutt Public Library. This copy was, I think, a first edition (1957)
Clare
You just need to get a taste of Frame's lyricism to appreciate her sensitive virtuosity. Even without considering meaning the words have a compulsive beat and draw to them - "The day is early with birds beginning and the wren is a cloud piping like the child in the poem, drop thy pipe, thy happy pipe...." There. Did you need any more?
shirley
I tried to finish this book but I had to give up, it was a real chore. I read things because I enjoy them but this felt like I was back at school and had to read it. I admit that it does seem to be an interesting story and I agree with a lot of other people that it is written in a very poetic way but it was just far too hard for me.
Libby
It was fascinating to read Janet's first novel, esp. since I had read her autobiography and knew a little bit about when and where she wrote it. Overall, the book seems uneven to me, and I felt bad about the way the main character treated her sister in the book, as if she was an automaton, but there are some stunning lyrical passages.
Jessica
This a beautiful very arresting novel. It covers Janet Frame's early life in New Zealand but in fiction rather than autobiography. Frame does things in this novel that would be never be allowed in a Cr Wr workshop (with point of view, for ex. and time frame) and the novel is stunningly original as a result. I recommend it.
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50302
The fate befalling the young woman who wanted "to be a poet" has been well documented. Desperately unhappy because of family tragedies and finding herself trapped in the wrong vocation (as a schoolteacher) her only escape appeared to be in submission to society's judgement of her as abnormal. She spent four and a half years out of eight years, incarcerated in mental hospitals. The story of her alm ...more
More about Janet Frame...
An Angel at my Table (Autobiography, #2) Faces in the Water Janet Frame: An Autobiography To the Is-land: An Autobiography (Autobiography, #1) Towards Another Summer

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“She grew more and more silent about what really mattered. She curled inside herself like one of those black chimney brushes, the little shellfish you see on the beach, and you touch them, and then go inside and don’t come out.” 15 likes
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