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An Angel at my Table (Janet Frame Autobiography #1-3)

4.22  ·  Rating details ·  1,433 Ratings  ·  93 Reviews
This autobiography traces Janet Frame's childhood in a poor but intellectually intense family, life as a student, years of incarceration in mental hospitals and eventual entry into the saving world of writers.
Paperback, A Women's Press Classic, 434 pages
Published August 1st 2001 by Women's Press (first published 1982)
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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
Jun 25, 2013 rated it liked it
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
Shelves: nonfiction, 2014

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
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
Jun 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Wonderful book by an exceptional New Zealand writer
Sep 28, 2007 rated it really liked it
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
Margherita Dolcevita
E' una delle autobiografie più belle che abbia mai letto. Divisa in tre parti estremamente diverse tra loro, è un'esplosione di vitalità, di forza, di coraggio. Non è un libro semplice, è molto lungo e l'ambientazione neozelandese è molto lontana dai nostri standard; le riflessioni sulla scrittura sono imperdibili, davvero un ottimo libro.
Jan 04, 2013 rated it really liked it
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.....
Marina Sofia
Feb 24, 2017 added it
Shelves: dnf
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.
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
Charles Yee
Aug 09, 2015 rated it liked it
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
Kim Pertinence
May 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
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
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
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.
Sep 16, 2012 rated it really liked it
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.
Paul Grimsley
a brilliant, sad, compelling and beautiful story. this is one of the best autobiography's i have ever read.
Esther Bradley-detally
Dec 26, 2009 rated it it was amazing
i read this years back; i loved the film - Jane Campion; Janet Frame's life is one of courage, and gives other writers hpe.
May 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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!
Marni McClure
Jan 28, 2013 rated it really liked it
Watched the series in New Zealand & was very excited to get my hands on a copy.
East Library UWCSEA
The memoir of Janet Frame, one of New Zealand's most famous authors. Made into a movie in 1990.
Alice Brandli
Jul 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book was life changing. The course of her life was chosen tragically by a misdiagnosis in schizophrenia, and maltreatment by an archaic sanatorium. Janet Frame's dedication to writing enabled her to recover and become an established author, her life long dream. This is an ode to writing. For writing built up her confidence, a gentle fortitude and self-discovery. The writing is crisp and concise. Consequently the power of words and allegory (silkworms!) makes her experiences all the more dev ...more
Esra Karadoğan
May 17, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Okumam çok uzun sürdü. Fakat güzeldi. Yaşanan tüm o trajedilere ve sırf yazmak istiyor diye şizofreni sanılan bir kadının yaşamından yılların çalınmasına rağmen anlatımı çok hoşuma gitti. Yavaş yavaş okuyup, üzerinde düşündüm. Bazıları çok acıttı, bazıları çok öğretici oldu. Yazma süreci ve yazar olmak isteğinin anlaşılmaması ve bunlar hakkındaki o rahat ifadeler... insanın kendini de kabullenmesine yol açıyor. Sadece ben yaşamadım diyorsun.
Jan 03, 2017 rated it liked it
A must read. All she wanted to be, was a writer. And of course she was, when society allowed her to be. Sadly the cruelty and ignorance towards those who suffer any form of mental health, still prevails.
Jun 20, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 stars
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
  • In My Father's Den
  • The Penguin History of New Zealand
  • Father and Son
  • Brief Lives
  • Pounamu Pounamu
  • The Diary of Alice James
  • The Book of Fame
  • Journals, 1889-1949
  • Ways of Escape
  • Amiel's Journal
  • Baby No-Eyes
  • Journal of Katherine Mansfield
  • In the Castle of My Skin
  • Once Were Warriors
  • A Fence Around The Cuckoo
  • The Torchlight List: Around the World in 200 Books
  • Black Oxen
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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)
  • To the Is-land: An Autobiography (Autobiography, #1)
  • An Angel At My Table (Autobiography, #2)
  • The Envoy from Mirror City (Autobiography, #3)

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“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..” 20 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.” 13 likes
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