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Owls Do Cry

4.07 of 5 stars 4.07  ·  rating details  ·  674 ratings  ·  62 reviews
Recipient of the prestigious Commonwealth Writers Prize in 1989, Janet Frame has long been admired for her startlingly original prose and formidable imagination. A native of New Zealand, she is the author of eleven novels, four collections of stories, a volume of poetry, a children's book, and her heartfelt and courageous autobiography -- all published by George Braziller. ...more
Paperback, 210 pages
Published March 1st 1982 by George Braziller (first published 1957)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,704)
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Mariel
Oct 30, 2012 Mariel rated it 4 of 5 stars
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
...more
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
...more
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
...more
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
...more
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
...more
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!
Sarah
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
Nathan
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
...more
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
...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
...more
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
Emily
Jan 16, 2009 Emily added it
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
Dillwynia Peter
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
...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
...more
Laura
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
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
...more
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
...more
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
...more
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
...more
Jakey Gee
Splendid. Poet, in't she. "...she sang like marbles rolling in water"; "staring ahead at the hard fire that burned brilliantly and coldly like a coloured glacier". Bravo, J-Frame. Nothing quite like her.
Gavin Malavolta
really enjoyed this; powerful writing that slowly grows on you. Reminded me a lot of The Sound and the Fury
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.
Georgy Hadwen
I have written a review of this elsewhere if I can find it....
Jules Begg
too depressing, well written
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Goodreads Librari...: Missing cover 2 15 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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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.” 16 likes
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