Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “An Angel at My Table: The Complete Autobiography” as Want to Read:
An Angel at My Table: The Complete Autobiography
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

An Angel at My Table: The Complete Autobiography

(Janet Frame Autobiography #1-3)

4.23  ·  Rating details ·  1,811 ratings  ·  130 reviews
New Zealand's preeminent writer Janet Frame brings the skill of an extraordinary novelist and poet to these vivid and haunting recollections, gathered here for the first time in a single volume. From a childhood and adolescence spent in a poor but intellectually intense railway family, through life as a student, and years of incarceration in mental hospitals, eventually fo ...more
Paperback, 600 pages
Published December 13th 2016 by Counterpoint (first published 1982)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about An Angel at My Table, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about An Angel at My Table

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.23  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,811 ratings  ·  130 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of An Angel at My Table: The Complete Autobiography
I inhabited a territory of loneliness which I think resembles that place where the dying spend their time before death, and from where those who do return living to the world bring inevitably a unique point of view that is a nightmare, a treasure, and a lifelong possession; at times I think it must be the best view in the world, ranging even farther than the view from the mountains of love, equal in its rapture and chilling exposure, there in the neighborhood of the ancient gods and goddesses
Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly
She was ugly. She tried to kill herself. Several times she mentioned her rotting teeth, implying the inferiority complex she much have developed because of it, her wild shock of curly hair which almost always elicited the suggestion from others to have it straightened, her lack of fashionable clothes. At one dance party she attended no one had asked her to dance so she went home early, by herself, then pretended the next day that she had a blast the night previous.

Her family was poor and she had
Julie Christine
A friend dropped this off for me at work several months ago. Before Christmas. Not several months... several lifetimes ago. I riffled through the pages, knowing it would be a cold day in hell before I'd have time to read a 600-page autobiography of an esoteric Antipodean author I'd kind of sort of heard of. You know. That vague sense that I should know who she is, should probably have gone through a Janet Frame phase in college. Did my friend think I'd be interested because I was a writer? Becau ...more
Jun 25, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: dear everyone
Recommended to Mariel by: I was now erased from the earth
Temporary masks, I knew, had their place; everyone was wearing them, they were the human rage; but not masks cemented in place until the wearer could not breathe and was eventually suffocated.

She looked how everyone saw her. Sometime after reading Janet Frame's first autobiography To the Is-Land late 2012 I watched some of the 1990s film adaptation by Jane Campion. I stopped watching it into the part from An Angel at my Table. Janet, Jean to her family, looked like everyone saw her. I couldn't h
Nov 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014, nonfiction

Is it blasphemy to say that I prefer her nonfiction to her fiction?
Her fiction was dense, poetic, experimental—all of which I fully appreciate.
Her autobiography is just her truth, which I absolutely love. This resonated so much with me. It's one of those books that says exactly what I would want to say to the world if I'd had the presence of mind to say it first.

She was diagnosed with schizophrenia but wasn't schizophrenic. She was autistic if ever a woman was.

If you'd like to hear a liter
Will Ansbacher
This is the edition I read, but owing to the length I reviewed the volumes as they were first published, separately:
1. To the Is-Land
2. An Angel at my Table
3. The Envoy from Mirror City

But ‘splurp’? Yes, as in
“that dark sweet liquid with the splurp taste, known as Gregg’s Coffee and Chicory” [p. 252]
Really? Janet Frame wrote that? Not (I’m guessing here), syrupy?
Honest to god, I’ve rarely seen so many garbled and missing characters; I’m assuming because the book was scanned from an ear
Stephen P(who no longer can participate due to illness)
Her life is controlled. She is told, without any evidence that she suffers from Schizophrenia, and is incarcerated in a mental institution. There, without being tested or barely interviewed, based on the length of stay, she is subjected to numerous electroshock treatments erasing parts of her recent memory. But still there she writes. She must write. Something inside her compels her. Just before she is to undergo a surgery that will leave her tamed and just a slightened image existing to comply ...more
Ben Winch
Jan 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Equal reading event of 2018 for me, along with a Gerald Murnane bender early in the year, though I’d be hard-pressed to say why. For one thing my wife joined in the reading, at first following and later eclipsing me while I took a short detour through a library book that was soon due. She loved it, though partly because, as she kept saying, Frame reminded her of me. And it’s true Frame seemed familiar, but more like a sister than an alternate self. I left her (Frame) just as she arrived in Londo ...more
Jan 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I confess that I came to this book only after seeing Jane Campion's brilliant film adaptation of Janet Frame's autobiographies. And, despite telling essentially the same story, the book and the film feel like wildly different things. That's the nature of an adaptation, of course; and I'm not suggesting that Campion is somehow less faithful to her source material than other directors might be. It's just that Campion's film is perhaps more masterful, more finely crafted. Which does not take anythi ...more
Barbro Kinnunen
Extra-ordinary life and writing style. She goes from a very realistic and straight on language to the most poetic descibtions of ordinary thing that I have ever read. Some strophes needs to be read twice or trice to even comprehend and absorb. A book to read for all :-) !
Rosemary Standeven
Wonderful book by an exceptional New Zealand writer
Sep 28, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the second volume in a trilogy of autobiographies by New Zealand writer Janet Frame, covering about ten years in the 1940s between the time she leaves school and sets off for London. Her description of surviving eight years spent in mental institutions as a result of being mistakenly diagnosed with schizophrenia, is horrifying, but also compelling. I love Janet Frame's novels; her writing is beautiful, complex, and she just seems to turn language inside out. From that point of view alone ...more
Jan 04, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Bettie, Carey
From BBC Radio 4 - Classical Serial:
Dramatisation by Anita Sullivan of the autobiography of New Zealand author Janet Frame.

Coming up in January 13.
Ruth Brittain
A wonderful autobiography.....sad, funny and unforgettable....a brilliant author of the utmost sensitivity.....
Aug 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: most-loved
This was (for me at least) the perfect autobiography.
Oct 21, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Like many Australians, I read both Frame's autobiography, and some of her fiction as a teenager. While the fiction never spoke to me, I fell in love with Frame's direct, intimate voice in her biography. I felt intensely strongly about her brilliance and our connection for at least three weeks. Thirty years later, I approached a reread with some trepidation, fearful the experience would, in that way that so often happens, corrupt the memory of that intense enjoyment. Which, of course, it kinda di ...more
Nov 16, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wandering through my favourite book store I saw that they had reissued Frame's series of autobiography. I was suddenly very embarrassed that I had never read one of New Zealand's greatest authors, being a kiwi myself. So I bought it.

From the first line;

"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 and its direction always toward the Third Place, where the starting point is myth
Kim Pertinence
May 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
i felt encouraged by the, now almost unheard about, close family knit, and how everyday pragmatism enabled way more than the modicum of secure relationships that psychiatric hospitals try to provide but are far from sustainable, the madding artificial crowd of a clinical environment that was only ever meant to be a temporary measure. unfortunately, temporary measures are now a way of life and core, nuclear family values have been nuked instead of tweaked by the social engineers responsible for o ...more
Charles Yee
The first volume of the autobiography was a little dry, but my interest was aroused when Janet Frame touched on the traumatic phase of her her life as an inmate in a mental hospital in the second volume, the once dull language became lyrical, with plenitude of feelings to which I can relate, for I was too, diagnosed with a mental illness several years ago. My favourite is volume three, the part where the writer sounded more optimistic towards life as a tourist in Europe. She overcame her introve ...more
Della O'Shea
Aug 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"Writing an auto biography, usually thought of as looking back, can just as well be a looking across or through, with the passing of time giving an X-ray quality to the eye. Also, time past is not time gone, it is time accumulated, with the host resembling the character in the fairytale who was joined along the route by more and more characters, none of whom could be separated from one another, or from the host, with some stuck so fast that their presence caused physical pain. Add to the charact ...more
Feb 02, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's a curious read, very interesting in parts, very disturbing in others and very poetic (literally). However, if you can excuse the pun, you have to be in the frame of mind to read this book for prolonged periods, as it can be quite depressing - to me, this is the sort of book you have to read a little of for a couple of days and come back to in a couple of weeks in order for you not to get sucked into this world of sadness.

Great autobiography of Janet Frame - one of those books you discover by chance that turns out to be a masterpiece.

Janet became a Nobel-prize winning writer but was hours away from being lobotomized as a schizophrenic. Then again if you write novels about people sitting catatonically and talking to black beetles ...
Mar 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A beaufitully written biography with some poetry which led Jane Campion to make a movie out of it with the same title. 500 pages of absolute pleasure. Janet Frame was from New Zealand 1924-2004. One of the very few books I will definitely read again.
Marina Sofia
The fictional account of her life in the sanatorium may be poetic and riveting, but this autobiography was too detailed and dull (and contained next to nothing of that period in her life). I just got bored.
Paul Grimsley
a brilliant, sad, compelling and beautiful story. this is one of the best autobiography's i have ever read. ...more
Esther Bradley-detally
i read this years back; i loved the film - Jane Campion; Janet Frame's life is one of courage, and gives other writers hpe. ...more
Sep 16, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Janet Frame is required reading. One of the best writers to come out of New Zealand, this is one of her best, what it is to be female and 'mad' and live in New Zealand. ...more
Marni McClure
Jan 28, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Watched the series in New Zealand & was very excited to get my hands on a copy.
May 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this when it first came out - remember waiting impatiently for it to do so, and I wasn't disappointed.
I have the 3 in the set and it's time to read them again!
« previous 1 3 4 next »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Once Were Warriors (Once Were Warriors Trilogy #1)
  • Wild Pork and Watercress
  • At Swim-Two-Birds
  • What Becomes of the Broken Hearted? (Once Were Warriors, #2)
  • Aroha: Maori wisdom for a contented life lived in harmony with our planet
  • The Whale Rider
  • The Laugh of the Medusa
  • The Power Is Within You
  • Fingers in the Sparkle Jar: A Memoir
  • The Body Never Lies: The Lingering Effects of Hurtful Parenting
  • Angels and Insects
  • Love Letters
  • Queen Victoria
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End (The Junior Novelization)
  • Sinclair (Acquisition, #0.5)
  • Casanovas kvinna
  • Diary of a Young Naturalist
  • My Place
See similar books…
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

Other books in the series

Janet Frame Autobiography (3 books)
  • To the Is-land: An Autobiography (Autobiography, #1)
  • An Angel At My Table (Autobiography, #2)
  • The Envoy from Mirror City (Autobiography, #3)

Related Articles

Juneteenth, observed on June 19th each year, is an American holiday commemorating the day in 1865 when the last enslaved people in Galveston,...
139 likes · 19 comments
“All writers--all beings--are exiles as a matter of course. The certainty about living is that it is a succession of expulsions of whatever carries the life force...All writers are exiles wherever they live and their work is a lifelong journey towards the lost land..” 23 likes
“What, in all the world, could I do to earn my living and still live as myself, as I knew myself to be. Temporary masks, I knew, had their place; everyone was wearing them, they were the human rage; but not masks cemented in place until the wearer could not breathe and was eventually suffocated.” 17 likes
More quotes…