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Owls Do Cry

4.03  ·  Rating Details ·  845 Ratings  ·  84 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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Community Reviews

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Jan 28, 2009 Lanea rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Jun 06, 2009 Debbie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Laura J. W.
Jan 18, 2012 Laura J. W. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 18, 2010 Reenie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jade Lopert
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
May 16, 2011 Mimi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-club
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
Jun 13, 2011 Sarah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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!
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
Jun 11, 2011 Ensiform rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
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
Karen Heart
Nov 15, 2013 Karen Heart rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 30, 2012 Mariel rated it really liked it  ·  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
Julianne Quaine
Nov 28, 2012 Julianne Quaine rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

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
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...
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
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
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
Jun 20, 2016 Rebecca rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This should really be a 5 star rating and y'all know it. I have just put off reading a Janet Frame novel for the longest time. I've got quite the collection of her works, love her poetry and stories, fell in love with her when I had to read THE BATH at high school and of course have several unread novels lying on my shelves in wait. Part 1 of her autobiography ruined me. I couldn't read again (for the summer at least). I allowed myself to put her novels on a pedestal and so my expectations were ...more
Jenna Ackerman
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 09, 2015 Nathan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels
I've never read anything like this. It breaks all kind of "rules" - the verb tense shifts, unconventional punctuation and sentence structure, etc. There isn't really a main character. There's a main family, but I couldn't pick any one of its members as a protagonist. But it works. It works REALLY well.

The story chronicles the lives of a poor family in a small town called Waimaru in New Zealand. There's plenty of dialog and action. The characters are clear and well-developed. But the sentences of
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
Dillwynia Peter
Apr 12, 2015 Dillwynia Peter rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a very deliberate poetic & lyrical novel; unfortunately the interesting punctuation & italics is lost when read as an audiobook. However, overall, the effect is the same.

This is a simple family drama- how will the family react to a death of an young adult child. All the characters are strong & believable. Father is laconic; mum only recognises one illness in the family - Toby's epilepsy; and the children grow up with various faults. No one is perfect in this book.

My favourite
Sarah Anne
I was debating on whether to listen to the audio or read the book, so I asked the friend that I heard about it from what I should do. His (rather wise) reply was that he actually did both simultaneously. Somehow this felt to me like I was wasting some time but I decided to try anyway. I struggled at first but it really did end up being the best way to experience this book. It gave it a much more three dimensional character. Throughout the book there were these cockeyed, slightly surreal scenes w ...more
Eric Hinkle
Aug 11, 2015 Eric Hinkle rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Janet Frame is a household name in New Zealand. This should be the case elsewhere, too!

This book is just oozing with brilliance. It's not a book of poems, but so many pages read like a prose poem. Her mind was constantly whirring with words and emotions, and which new words to use to describe those emotions. The novel is filled with such striking images and thoughts. It's sad, damned sad, but not overwhelmingly so. So much of her life and her family's life is put into the book, and perhaps if he
Helen McClory
Apr 03, 2016 Helen McClory rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One long protracted cry of sadness against the grimy sadness of the world.
Sandy Hogarth
Mar 27, 2016 Sandy Hogarth rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I started to read Owls Do Cry as research for my second novel as I cannot decide whether my protagonist is sent to prison or a Closed Psychiatric Unit. Well, it has helped me decide. It will be prison.

Despite the painfulness of the subject matter what a delight the language is, especially when it is Daphne’s story. It is the story of the Withers family: Francie, Toby, who is epileptic, Chicks the baby of the family and Daphne with her wonderful and damaging imagination. And what an extraordinary
May 02, 2016 Arlen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Poetic, painful, powerful. What a tour de force.
Glen U
May 15, 2016 Glen U rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book on the recommendation of a very good friend. At first, I was lukewarm to Frame's style and rhythm of writing. Very metaphorical, very lyrical, lots of prose poetry, which did not seem to fit the tone and atmosphere of the story. I thought that this was a New Zealand version of "Grapes of Wrath" or perhaps, Zola's "Germinal". As the story progressed and the characters started to develop, the book turns into an extremely moving tale about life and tragedy. The lyrical style of Jan ...more
Jun 11, 2016 Ruth rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Beautiful, sad, wonderful.
Bethany Nichols
Oct 06, 2016 Bethany Nichols rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
At first I think I didn't really understand it, but at University we studied this, and it makes the novel so much deeper when you know some information on Frame.
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Goodreads Librari...: Missing cover 2 16 Jan 04, 2015 02:50PM  
500 Great Books B...: Owls Do Cry - Janet Frame 1 1 Jul 15, 2014 03:19PM  
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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
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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.” 19 likes
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