Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Owls Do Cry” as Want to Read:
Owls Do Cry
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Owls Do Cry

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  968 Ratings  ·  93 Reviews
Owls Do Cry is one of the classics of New Zealand literature, and has remained in print continuously for fifty years. A fiftieth anniversary edition was published in 2007.

Owls Do Cry is Janet Frame's first novel. She describes her idea behind it in the second volume of her autobiography:

Pictures of great treasure in the midst of sadness and waste haunted me and I began to
Audiobook, 8 pages
Published February 1st 2008 by Bolinda Publishing (first published 1957)
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 Owls Do Cry, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Owls Do Cry

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

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Oct 29, 2012 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
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
Sep 28, 2007 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
May 05, 2009 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
Jun 11, 2011 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
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
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
Sandy Hogarth
Mar 27, 2016 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
Nov 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
May 14, 2011 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!
Laura J. W.
Jun 29, 2009 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
Aug 20, 2009 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
May 21, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
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
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
Mar 21, 2015 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
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
Text Publishing
‘Owls Do Cry glows with the inner light of (Frame’s) human awareness—a cool flame that neither cauterises nor heals but in some mystic ways purifies, substituting an essential beauty for superficial pain and squalor.’
Sunday Herald Tribune

‘When I first read it at 14, the same age as Daphne is in the novel…her dark eloquent song captured my heart.’
Jane Campion

‘Owls Do Cry is a devastating reflection on the character of conventional society and the dangers that await those who reject its narrowness
Feb 12, 2014 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
Apr 18, 2011 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
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
This a beautiful very arresting novel. It covers Janet Frame's early life in New Zealand but in fiction rather than autobiography. Frame does things in this novel that would never be allowed in a Cr Wr workshop (with point of view, for ex. and time frame) and the novel is stunningly original as a result. I recommend it.
Jun 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Beautiful, sad, wonderful.
Helen McClory
Mar 20, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One long protracted cry of sadness against the grimy sadness of the world.
Rebecca McNutt
This evocative novel offers insight into not only mental illness and the terror of going through electrode-convulsive therapy, but also grief, family dysfunction and loss.
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...
Jan 15, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Weird weird weird, very sad, but some beautifully written passages.
Apr 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Poetic, painful, powerful. What a tour de force.
Aug 13, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Story of a rural low-middle class family living in New Zealand. Parents Bob and Amy and their children Francie, Toby, Daphne, and Chicks are our anti-heros. Critics tend to mention both the somber/tragic conditions and fates of its characters and the unusual writing style - certain chapters are written as a stream of consciousness; the reader floats along on the waves of the at time magical language, never quite certain if she understands.

The Withers family never seems to catch a break - tragedy
Jul 21, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It took too long to finish this, but that was a fault of my own. I'll be long stuck with this writing. And long stuck with the song, where the bee sucks, sung by my friend and I, as we walk down some cold footpath. She gave me this book.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Goodreads Librari...: Missing cover 2 16 Jan 04, 2015 02:50PM  
500 Great Books B...: Owls Do Cry - Janet Frame 1 2 Jul 15, 2014 03:19PM  
  • Plumb (Plumb, #1)
  • The Book of Fame
  • Potiki
  • The God Boy
  • Pounamu Pounamu
  • The Penguin History of New Zealand
  • Stonefish
  • Man Alone
  • Sons for the Return Home
  • Once Were Warriors
  • The Furies
  • Black Oxen
  • The Mind-Body Problem
  • The Other Side of Silence
  • The Golden Spur
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...

Share This Book

“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
More quotes…