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To the Is-Land (Autobiography, #1)
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To the Is-Land (Janet Frame Autobiography #1)

4.08  ·  Rating details ·  458 Ratings  ·  24 Reviews
In this first volume of her autobiography, New Zealand novelist Janet Frame tells of her childhood as the daughter of an impoverished railway worker and a mother who aspired to publish poetry.

Despite material privations and family conflicts, the world of the imagination was accorded a supreme place in the Frame household, and it was at this time that Janet Frame acquired h
Paperback, 173 pages
Published 1987 by Paladin (first published 1982)
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Nov 04, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: what does ugly mean?
Recommended to Mariel by: I'm gonna plant a tree and let it rise out of the fury
I wanted an imagination that would inhabit a world of fact, descend like a shining light upon the ordinary life of Eden street, and not force me to exist in an 'elsewhere'. I wanted the light to shine upon the pigeons of Glen street, the plum trees in our garden, the two japonica bushes (one red, one yellow), our pine plantations and gully, our summer house, our lives, and our home, the world of Oamaru, the kingdom by the sea. I refused to accept that if I were to fulfil my secret ambition to be ...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
I read this as part of my self-declared New Zealand November in 2015.

In this first volume of her autobiography, Janet Frame writes about her childhood up until college, with several moves (her father worked for the railroad), a brother with epilepsy, and friends from the wrong side of the tracks.

My favorite bit was an entire chapter about her public library, which she gained access to after winning a poetry contest. (It cost money to check books out at the Athenaeum, something which her family
Aug 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, favorites
I love Janet Frame. I just love her. I feel as though she could be a member of my family.
Dec 03, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Melody by: Rachel C
Janet Frame, one of New Zealand's best-known writers, remembers her early years in dreamy, thought-swimming sentences, chock-full of poetic, strung-together adjectives. Her family is made up of her father who "was inclined to dourness with a strong sense of formal behavior that did not allow him the luxury of reminiscence"; her mother whose "titties were always there, like the cow's teats for an occasional squirt into our mouths"; Bruddie, her brother who (poor thing) developed epilepsy and had ...more
Feb 08, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir-biography
"I wanted an imagination that would inhabit a world of fact, descend like a shining light upon the ordinary life of Eden Street." Her book stands up to this hope. It's a concrete, tangible life story lit up by her humor, intelligence, and compassion.
Lynda Spadaccini
Aug 03, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
have read it before and am reading it again. The amazing Ms Frame captures her depressive, difficult childhood with ease . The isolation both geographically and internally is beautifully explored, with perfectly placed observations on how a young Ms Frame dealt with the world sround her.

Finished now, such an inspiring woman, so quirky and honest. I have a crush on her ... again.
Caroline Barron
Jan 02, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
On this perfect little New Zealand is-land (sic) - Waiheke - I met Janet Frame for the first time. Reading Frame is like coming home - walking through paddocks in bare feet, over the stile and to the house where Dad is doing the crossword in front of the range. I'm not sure how I have got this far through life, as a literature-loving New Zealander, without stumbling into her at the library, in class, or by being introduced by friends.

A quick look on Wikipedia reminded me of her poetically tragic
May 30, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed the movie adaptation of Janet Frame's autobiography, primarily because of its sensory representation of childhood memory in the early section, and so I was very pleased to find that the source material contains many of the same pleasures. Janet Frame has a really special connection with her young self, and she is really able to connect with the experiences of growing up, remembering them in a relatable and tactile way. I really enjoyed the associations she would make, as a child would, ...more
Mariana Mahood
Oct 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved it
Octavia Cade
It has a pretty slow start, but this first volume of Janet Frame's autobiography improves as it goes along... until you find that you've finished it without actually stopping for dinner. There's a sort of gentle mesmerising effect that's heightened by the familiarity of the natural world - to New Zealand readers at least. And I might have experienced Otago and Southland some generations on from Frame, but it's still very recognisable even over distance. In fact, the point where I felt closest to ...more
Glen U
Feb 13, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Janet Frame is a phenomenal writer and I wonder why she is not more acclaimed in the literary world. "To the Is-Land" is the first in a series that contains three volumes that comprises Frame's autobiography. It encompasses the the beginning of the author's life, from birth through adolescence. It is a sincere and compelling story of the childhood Frame, written in a plainer style than that of her fiction, yet still lyrical in nature and, at times, pure poetry. Frame has the ability to create a ...more
Dara Salley
Dec 12, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
At first I couldn’t remember why I added this book to my “to-read” list. Then I remember that it was because I saw the amazing movie “An Angel at My Table”. The movie shows the life of Janet Frame and dramatizes various parts of her three autobiographical novels. I found her story very compelling. She was a woman who grew up in poverty in New Zealand. She finds an outlet for her imagination by writing poetry and eventually becomes a world-acclaimed poet. First she has to overcome many obstacles ...more
Kathleen Dixon
A work colleague loaned me a good number of Janet Frame's novels some years ago. If I recall, there was only one that I particularly enjoyed (I wasn't keeping records so diligently then), but I kept reading them because I felt sure I was going to really love another. The thing is, I love her prose - she puts words together beautifully - but I the novels difficult, mostly.

This first volume of the three-volume autobiography, on the other hand, has appealed to me enormously. Here, in the story of h
Apr 28, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I know that this memoir--of Janet Frame's childhood in the South Island of New Zealand in the '30s and '40s--is perfectly good in its own right, yet the main thing it inspired in me was the desire to reread Owls Do Cry. The novel covers very similar events, and seems to do so with deeper emotional resonance and more indelible imagery than Frame conveys in writing about her real, un-fictionalized memories.
May 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Aggghh. Janet Frame is truly a national treasure and I'm only just beginning to comprehend it.

This memoir is so, so great. The author's experience of art, literature, time, and her articulation of artistic, individual and national identity is ... hauntingly personal and exquisite. Also, I don't think many (if any) books are capable of making me want to re-engage with regional NZ / Southland lol. But this has!!!!
Mar 31, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved this autobiography. Janet Frame takes us from the innocence of childhood into a self conscious adolescence. A great portrayal of family and sisterhood. The family struggles with poverty and makes the most out of small things and events. Janet is transported by literature and brings a romantic interpretation to her landscape.
april violet
I made it halfway through this book before I returned it to the library. I suppose I'm not in the right frame (pardon the pun) of mind for it. Janet Frame's prose is a bit plain here compared to that in her fiction.
Nov 26, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this for a speech exam quite a while ago, but I did actually enjoy it much more than I expected.
Jan 14, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
At first I hated it. Then I realized it was genius. Good god, what an idiot I used to be!
May 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this when it first came out and was captivated - then had to wait impatiently for the next volume
I have the 3 in the set and it's time to read them again!
Edward Sargisson
Quite good. Better than most autobiographies. She is a writer after all.
Jan 10, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love that Frame's autobiographical writing is poetic and interesting. She doesn't embellish; and yet she paints a vivid picture of her childhood that transports you there.
Apr 02, 2013 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Read Sarah's review:I she says that there is lots of poetic writing. Maybe liz would enjoy this book.
Feb 16, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical, english
Was an okay book, took a bit to get in to and I don't particularly like the life that she describes it's depressing.
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Dec 29, 2015
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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
More about Janet Frame...

Other Books in the Series

Janet Frame Autobiography (3 books)
  • An Angel At My Table (Autobiography, #2)
  • The Envoy from Mirror City (Autobiography, #3)
“From the first place of liquid darkness, within the second place of air and light, I set down the following record with its mixture of fact and truths and memories of truths and its direction always toward the Third Place, where the starting point is myth.” 7 likes
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