Read owls do cry by Janet Frame Online


Set in provincial, pre-1940s New Zealand, Owls Do Cry explores the Withers family, in particular Daphne Withers. When one of Daphne's sisters dies, a crisis is provoked that leads Daphne to a mental asylum where she receives shock treatment. Her voice from "the Dead Room" haunts the novel with its poetic insights....

Title : owls do cry
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 12352844
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 176 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

owls do cry Reviews

  • Mariel
    2019-07-10 05:59

    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 there. If there's an astigmatism version for rose coloured glasses then it would be this family the Withers. Family and society mean fuck all for the look are the glasses. I wasn't surprised when the brother Toby reads his little sister's diary during a visit only to be startled into feeling shame when he comes across the pages about himself. I had been thinking about walking across your own grave before then. I don't think it was because he saw in handwriting that he had his mother wait on her own bread bone dry and it's not butter it's margarine (that he bullies her with further poverty with threats of pulling his shares out of the home that he owns with his parents made ME ashamed). Toby had self-awareness of the kind that sees what he expects to see when he slithers into another's eye frames. The kind of weasel you would expect to learn has a dating website profile lamenting that hot girls don't like nice guys and honestly, that's why he goes out of his way to make everyone's life hard in those little ways that add up to blind sided bad days. Greasy-haired, never had a girl, is he going to have one of his "fits" again. He just knows they don't like him, rather than expect better of himself. I SHOULD help my mother , he'd think. His fits are epilepsy, I think. If he had been female he would have ended up under the hot lamp suspect gaze with no phone calls or a glass of water, please. Under the knife and under the stars if all of your ancestors are really judging you. That was his sister Daphne's fate. Toby counts his money like he was the little brother from The Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler (great book). Coins over the eyelids long before you're dead is one way of living as if you already are. I had the feeling about this family that they were living the "When you get old I'm going to put you in a home!" threat from day one. It's a bitter unwhimpered threat. It is only funny if it is The Golden Girls and you can burn the place down with a hot plate. While Daphne is rotting away in the horror land version of Shady Pines, is that the dying sun reflecting off the you could see your reflection in it is so dirty from a lifetime of sweat and twisted worry dome of Bob Withers over there, you know, where the chicken died crossing the road? I don't know who sprung for the home in this gasping punchline of an ending. The joke isn't funny anymore (this time I'll get it in early that Janet Frame has the comic touch of I don't know if I'm crying or I'm laughing). The "normal" one, please don't call her Chicks anymore her name is TERESA, dead in a murder-suicide. Gotta keep up with the I-married-a-doctor-and-he-broke-both-his-vows-of-marriage-and-the-medical-board couple. She would have been the sort who would make sure you got her husbands title correct so I don't feel bad about my load of hyphens just there. If she could write about it after she died she probably wouldn't have minded that they were trendy. I wonder what Janet Frame would have made of the materialism of today if 1950s New Zealand cocked her brow? I can't see Toby springing for the fees for his father's home. It was probably the lobotomized Daphne in her on the way up factory supervising job. Or the institutional version of the unmarked pothole. Eldest sister Francie died in a freak accident. I am not sure how she burned to death. She rolled out of the pages and into the fires. She was kicking a leg in the mirror. She was whispering secrets that Daphne would always be too young to know, at least not without the so-called benefits of may I have the scalpel, please. She was too old for trips to the local dumpster for treasures. Chicks was running behind with sand in her shoes at the promise of aniseed cakes. Dad wanted to burn Francie's scandalous pants that signified that she was a loose girl. What will people say? After her death he burns those pants in secret. This was a moment that stood out to me as if a girl who was brutally dumped by her boyfriend bonfires every I love you beary much memory in retaliation and promptly regrets it in case they get back together. Was Francie really dead to them? I had the feeling that Toby was always reading Teresa's diary and running away in the night to avoid that exorcist head spin at their family. Remember when we called her Chicks because she looked like a chicken with hair swinging in her face, pointing at the ground as if she could pick up leftover grains of secrets that are only good when you're too young to know them? Teresa is the run away and be too good for your family sister. I don't know if anyone reading this has that kind of family. It was the much vocalized dream in mine. Hearing this has a special way of making you feel as if you had never had a family. If you wonder why YOU aren't also good enough to leave that is another way of losing it. I think that's what Toby probably asked himself every time he thought about Teresa and her house up north. I was interested in how Janet Frame saw that dream. Young Daphne puts her sister on a wicked witch of the west path in the cyclone trail on her bicycle to and fro from a factory job. Once upon a time I looked on a different New Zealand story, the film Heavenly Creatures, for my inner held up image for the horror romance. Teen murderesses scream with delight when their beloved ugly Orson Welles "chases" them in their fantasies. This movie made teenage me very happy because of that scene. Movies don't make me that happy anymore. Sure, there are some stories that spark my mind to go "Oh, this means that" (Claire Danes playing a bipolar character on series Homeland is a recent favorite. I'm not saying I can't get something out of good stories). I don't know if I haven't had the knack of finding the good ones like I used to, or maybe my standards are too high. I feel like the present and stretched out future is for them like that. To feel a shadow of that thrill, it has to come from memories (distorted or no) of the past. Daphne's spinning of "this means that" for a world she doesn't see the way a person who dreams of getting out as soon as they can felt like that reveling in the horror pleasure. I guess how else could you cope if that was your option. Backbreaking work until death. Little did she know what awaited her was much worse. I am horror fascinated by that her method of living with the world made it unlivable for her. Doors shut on the outside as the windows in the mind open like seeing a picture of yourself looking into a mirror. The Withers return to the mind boggling sudden death of Francie as a furnace of their own dreams if it worked as a time stands still trick for Daphne. If they ever read someone else's account of their poverty, or had to ride back to forth to the factory without kaleidoscopic colors of wool. In the fairy tales you could sacrifice your first born child for this. Well, Daphne was locked up for the poetic license she takes with her own life. They take it away from her. I had a feeling of a longing to return to before Francie had died. I couldn't call how Toby and Teresa see the world as poetic anything. It would be like overhearing someone else say the kind of critical things you would say to yourself if you are the sort of person who feels awful about bad hair days. If there was ever going to be a language that made sense of them as a whole it probably wouldn't be that kind. There's a before and after Francie. Funny, she was going to leave them too, as Teresa does. Mom and dad never had any money. They would write about them in their own diaries as figures who yell at them. There would probably be a page about having to do chores. A lot about wanting to live their own lives not as a family. Teresa thinks about where Daphne is shut and means to send her a tin of biscuits. That wasn't that different than Toby's longed for pleasure of finding out what the next flavor was going to be in a type of candy much like Life-savers. It probably wasn't as sweet as when they were kids and got those aniseed cakes (which sounded much like something my birds like to eat). If only Toby hadn't fled in the night when he read a diary never intended for him to read. Teresa's suburban life wasn't seen with the same warm kitchen lights as the one in Frame's Towards Another Summer. I had liked that book better for that, that it wasn't a win or lose life thing to have "it all" of a family versus being alone and not settled in if you were happy with that or not. I don't mind here that it's a loss because I don't think it was really about who saved themselves or not. The loss is in the meaning of it all. Why even have family? The feeling I have had all three times reading Janet Frame is that the only way to save yourself is to try and have as many kinds of looks that you can get. The stolen diary feeling isn't a pleasant feeling to have. I felt like Toby when he is dismissed. I had felt sorry for him when the girl he hardly admits to being in love with him is married to another man. She laughs at him for believing a childhood story about factory girls and a strap. I felt something else for him when another pleasure he gets out of his life is withholding the sports page from the newspaper from his father. These kids wouldn't ever get over that childhood slight, would they? I wonder what the point of moving away from the family you were born into and starting another one is if that is how it is always going to go. It's the home for you! Here, have a biscuit tin. Janet Frame was wonderful with the familial poetical strains carrying over through the kids. Daphne listened willingly. Toby has nightmares that his sisters are Shakespearean witches. Teresa silences herself in her diary. Toby at least pieces together how his mother pulled her view of the world from newspaper headlines read aloud to her from her husband. When Daphne writes something similar (I wonder where she heard it from) her sister only wonders that the nurses allowed her to send such a letter in the first place. What happened to this family? Their mother sang a song to her children that went like this:Come in you naughty birdthe rain is pouring downwhat would your mother sayif you stay there and drown?You are a very naughty birdyou do not think of me,I'm sure I do not care,said the sparrow on the treeFrame wrote that she "half-wailing it so that it seemed tragic and terrible". Damn. Guilt trip for her kids, sure. But for a family that epitomizes "You don't call, you don't write"... I thought that was great. I read a review online that the character marginalized to the detriment of the story was the mother. I don't agree. I think she takes her place in that family and then doesn't take it, same as everyone else.People could say that Janet Frame wrote similar books because of the autobiographical content. Like Daphne, she was locked away in an institution and scheduled for a lobotomy herself. Her family was poor. I read a goodreads review from a friend on here about another author not too long ago that she wrote the same book every time and I didn't agree with that either. Jean Rhys books read to me like interlocking pieces of the same puzzle. Janet Frame is something else. If you have ever struggled with a crushing weight on your own shoulders that was sometimes shifted to your heart, or maybe your brain, and you could trick yourself into thinking it was gone with stories you tell yourself? You would catch your own reflection and what you expected to see there wasn't what you saw anymore. Her books read like that to me (I've only read three so far. Maybe I'm talking out of my ass). Society is fucked up. Maybe it isn't that bad because there is a light coming out of these bridges that I can cross with some help. Is the ending of Owls Do Cry the subverted image of what you expect to see, what with the mentalist Daphne making the dough? Those who got out dug themselves in the pot holes (society loves parking lots). I feel it's sad and angry. Faces in the Water was kinder towards the lashers than I had inside of me because I was too angry that society doesn't ask of itself to be better than that. So the mom was going to die anyway. That was going to be her end no matter what. But why did she have children to live like that? Tell yourself I don't care, why is my son so cruel, that's how it goes. So their neighbors read about this stuff happening to all of these people. Anyone we know? I guess they didn't expect to see these people in the paper. They all had their places. Toby's sorta love who married that social security clerk who had been embezzling all the time. I missed the old Daphne who saw their ominous faces peeking out of the sides of Mt. Rushmore. Oh wait, that's me. I'm trying to reconcile historical expectations with it never happened so let's just give up. Oh wait, that's what they did. I'm stuck on Daphne getting locked up because her mind played tricks on her that it wasn't all the town dump and dad yelling at mom about money. Owls Do Cry is the it is freaking hard book. Poetry isn't going to save you this time.Damn, but I do feel bad about that save yourself drive. I would think Frame would see it from both sides of the lonely socket. Somehow that isn't as consoling to me this time. I've seen where Daphne goes... And the mill girls going on bicycles, chased by the south wind to their rooms of blindness; but not here, Daphne, here at the hour of the hooter, the door outside the mountain hovel is unlocked, some other door of a brick house holding the idiots and maimed and the dwarves with their crepe faces and parchment eyes, and these people move into the yard; they jabber, jibber and are quiet; they know what you say to them; they know, they are understanding, so they must work; and off they skip and limp and crawl, with bundles of soiled clothes under their arm to the laundry; all day with the hiss of steam like snakes in their ears; ironing, folding, hanging out the clothes; feeding and being crushed, their heads and the bones in their heads, under the mangle that is time, taking the sheets of earth they lie between and the pillow-cases of dream they rest their hearts on.

  • Chrissie
    2019-06-30 11:28

    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 lobotomy. Her writing had begun to be published and a doctor saw that maybe rather than being ill she was simply expressing a creative sensibility. Her life story is moving. But should one judge a book by the author's difficult life or the value of the book? I don't even judge a book by its value, but rather by my own personal reaction to it! I would give it five stars if I were to rate the book by the author's difficulties or as proof that what is defined as mentally ill is debatable. How is the writing? Is it special? Yes, absolutely. Think free verse poetry. I personally have difficulty with poetry, but this is easy to read. Much of the book is written employing a semi-stream-of-consciousness narrative. You perceive how the character thinks. The author's decade in an institution and her own troubled thoughts (two of her sisters drowned) are used to good effect. The dialogs are perfect. You hear what people DO say. Humor? Yes, even given the dark tone of the book, there is humor. Even on her deathbed the author has retained her sense of humor. When she was diagnosed with incurable leukemia she was told that they would do all they could to make the few weeks that remained comfortable. She jokingly responded, "No one has ever cared about my quality of life before!" Here are some lines that made me smile. Daphne, who is the central character in the book, is speaking of her father's hygiene routines and talks of, "....the powder that he sprinkled on his feet to stop them from becoming athletic." Or a depiction of a nurse "with her greet the visitor smile". Or the comment, "It must be in the family. Some of these visitors are queerer than the patients." There may be humor, but there is a lack of kind people. Maybe Daphne's mother....but she dies?! Doctors. Should one trust doctors? This book is upsetting if you, as I do, immediately get psyched out in a medical institution. The author certainly shares my skepticism. When you enter a hospital you better be healthy if you want to exit. And then there is the ending, the epilogue. It is very clever, and that left me loving the book. A message is left. Should I judge a book solely by the ending? Parts of the book do in fact drag. Do you see how hard it is for me to decide on my rating?! In summary:Good writing, poetic in tone. A touch of humor.Health issues, again hard for me....Mental illness is portrayed with stunning insight. People accurately drawn, but with an emphasis on the evil rather than the good.The narration by Heather Bolton is outstanding. The dialect was genuine and not hard to follow. She beautifully sings the songs and recites the poetry. When Daphne sings and then her sister, you actually hear the difference. Daphne's father and mother and each sibling, each has their own voice. EXCELLENT narration. Cannot be improved upon. But I do not rate by the narration........I don't think I ever really came to feel for Daphne, so three rather than four stars. Definitely a book worth reading.Oh yes, at the end of the audiobook there are two additional pieces, a "Biographical Sketch" by Pamela Gordon and a long, very long, "Introduction to the Author" by Lawrence Jones. I enjoyed the first but was put off by the second. I don't want to be told why I should like a book, so I stopped listening. I want to form my own opinion. I will now, having completed my review, go back and listen. This introduction, placed at the end, is more than an hour long, and has the character of a literary review .It felt promotional.

  • Lanea
    2019-07-18 07:26

    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 first semi-autobiographical novel. It follows a New Zealand family through the death of a daughter, the mental illness and subsequent institutionalization of another, and the general tragedies of deeply injured children. But the plot isn't what normally matters in Frame's books. her language is intense, and beautiful, and poetic. And right--always right. I'm sure I'll read it again.

  • Dagio_maya
    2019-07-19 11:20

    ”Il mondo dell’infanzia si ingrandisce a ogni ricordo e ce lo poniamo come un mantello fatato sulle spalle. Ma io ora tornerò a Waimaru e scoprirò che il mio mantello, come la pelle di zigrino, si rimpicciolisce a ogni desiderio, e mi ritroverò fra le mani solo un brandello frusto e grinzoso.”Ecco. L’ho finito. Sono in quello momento di vuoto; ferita come fossi vittima di un recente abbandono.Mi accingo a scrivere qualcosa di questo libro. Si dice “fare un commento a caldo”. Che strano: io sento i brividi…Eh, sì le parole sono veramente oggetti bizzarri che possono assumere forme differenti a seconda di chi le manipola. Questa è la prima sensazione che mi sento di fare a fine lettura di “Gridano i gufi” primo romanzo della neozelandese Janet Frame.Una storia bifronte già nella geografia dell’isola in cui un Nord e un sud si contrappongono nelle differenti caratteristiche di clima e di ambiente cittadino e rurale.”Buffo, il cielo qui a nord è diverso dal cielo del sud, e anche la luce. Giù a sud non dimentichi mai l’Antartide, una specie di temibile retroterra, un blocco di ombra grigia, il continente di ghiaccio. Il buio giù al sud è più pauroso e meno amichevole di qui, ti ci senti intrappolato come in una tomba, e temi che la lastra tombale di ghiaccio non verrà mai via. Qui al nord di notte in alto nel cielo resta una specie di luce solare, come se le tenebre aderissero alla terra sotto la sferza del sole.”Al centro la dolorosa miseria dell’indigenza e le due facce che può assumere la realtà: follia e cosiddetta normalità. Non vorrei dire nulla di più di quello che si può leggere in sinossi perché basta ed avanza per addentrarsi tra queste pagine fitte di umana sofferenza. Sento, tuttavia, di dover avvertire che bisogna muoversi cautamente per non essere sopraffatti dalla potenza di questa scrittura che come una magica acrobazia riesce a stare in bilico tra prosa e poesia con spettacolare naturalezza. La prosa segue il filo della storia che ci viene raccontata con evidenti tracce biografiche: la miseria, la follia, l’internamento (”giorni senza luce e notti senza tenebre), l’elettroshock (pare che la Franet ne subì più di duecento!!!).” Il lungo corridoio fuori luccica come il cuoio di una scarpa nuova che cammina cammina su se stessa con passo spettrale calpesta il proprio luccichio finché non giunge alla camera dove la donna aspetta, in vestaglia, l’orrore delle ore nove del mattino chiamato trattamento di elettroshock. Indossano vestaglie di flanella rossa, come se Dio o il diavolo, comprato un continente di stoffa, lo avessero percorso a piedi, usando le forbici anziché il bastone da passeggio, da costa a costa, ritagliando un inerte e vasto disegno di pazzi e di pazze i quali all’improvviso, vedendo il loro mondo e la bandiera di stoffa a forma di sole penzolante nel loro unico cielo, diventeranno ciechi.Oh, ma alle nove, si dice, tutto andrà a posto. La vista sarà oscurata, l’ombra risistemata sugli occhi, e il campo visivo verrà ristretto al piatto, alla tazza di tè, alle sigarette; tutto qui il loro mondo; fermi come una casa a guardare sempre il proprio cortile posteriore.Hanno tolto loro le forcine che sono state disposte in fila lungo la mensola del camino. Le dentiere sono immerse in acqua tiepida dentro tazze senza manici, disposte in cerchio, perché si facciano compagnia, sul tavolo dalle gambe d’osso.«Via le dentiere» hanno ordinato le donne vestite di rosa. «Via le dentiere».E tra un attimo lo stesso Dio o lo stesso diavolo che ha passeggiato sul continente di stoffa girerà l’interruttore che decreta: Guardare. Dimenticare. Diventare ciechi. “La poesia, intanto, tratteggia immagini e fa delle parole strumenti che evocano altri mondi, altre dimensioni. «E la follia, non forse è questo?», mi chiedo.Vedere oltre.Vedere altro.E dirlo ad alta voce con l’innocenza di chi ignora che parlare alfabeti sconosciuti è rischioso.Chi è dichiarato folle non è forse un incompreso che parla linguaggi cifrati?”E camminiamo come Teseo o come uno spazzino nel labirinto, le nostre memorie srotolate come fili di seta o di fuoco; e dopo aver ammazzato i minotauri del nostro ieri continuiamo a tornare incessantemente alla scaturigine del filo, al Dove. Ma quale Teseo o spazzino porterà mai fra i capelli un papavero di carta, o si legherà i calzoni come un pacco, con lo spago, legando le gambe in fondo con un filo dorato come un ciondolo di Natale?E il cielo ora è una maschera blu che copre la memoria, le lapidi, le meraviglie nelle bacheche di vetro,Raperonzola, Raperonzola, butta i tuoi capelli.Lascia il tuo piffero, il tuo allegro piffero.”Framet ci racconta la storia di questa famiglia generando emozioni e annunciando la tragedia già dal titolo.I gufi che gridano sono presi in prestito dalla Tempesta shakespeariana e più precisamente dalle strofe cantate dallo spiritello Ariel (”Dove l'ape succhia succhio io: / giaccio nella corolla d'una primula e lì dormo./ Quando gridano i gufi. volo sul dorso del pipistrello/ in cerca dell'estate, allegramente./ E allegro, allegro ora vivrò / Sotto il fiore che pende dal ramo!) che da note spensierate si tramutano con la Framet in presagio di disgrazia tra le labbra della sorella Francie:”Ma Francie Withers è Giovanna d’Arco, e alla festa in giardino cantò:Là dove succhia l’ape succhio anch’iodentro una primula è il letto mioil mio rifugio quando gridano i gufi.Quando gridano i gufi, quando gridano i gufi.Ma non è più lì il mio rifugio quando gridano i gufi. I gufi sono fra gli alberi e gridano quiiuiii, quiiuiii, e a volte di notte per via degli alberi pensi che la pioggia durerà per sempre e che il sole non spunterà mai più, solo quiiiuiii, quiiiuiii e tenebre.”

  • Domenico Fina
    2019-07-04 07:03

    Molto bello, molto triste. Gridano i gufi (1957) primo romanzo di Janet Frame. Pubblicato quando la scrittrice neozelandese aveva 33 anni. Il titolo è bellissimo, nel verso originale Shakespeariano i gufi piangono (Owls do cry). In italiano è più bello con l'allitterazione della g e col grido, nel libro, più appropriato del pianto. La storia di una famiglia trafelata dalla vita in una cittadina neozelandese. Tre bambine e un bambino nella prima parte e poi la loro vita vent'anni dopo. Un bambino Toby che viene avvolto dal mantello buio delle convulsioni e sua madre deve mettergli uno stecchetto tra i denti. La più piccola Teresa si sposerà e farà vita agiata, nel suo diario da sposata si chiederà:"A proposito quando ho cominciato questo diario dissi che avrei registrato la mia vita interiore. Invece temo di non aver mai scritto nulla al riguardo. E se non avessi una vita interiore?".La più grande Francie lascerà la scuola per andare a lavorare in un cotonificio. A scuola recita fiera Giovanna d'Arco. C'è poi Daphne, una bambina schiva che vive di poesia. La lingua di Janet Frame è ciò che s'intende quando si parla di naturalezza. Giocare, ironizzare, essere straziante, folleggiante, pratica, aspra, leggiadra. Tutto con misura, anche i capitoli sono brevi e non c'è frase inutile. Ecco come Toby da grande si esprime davanti al mare (ha perso l'occasione di sposarsi per via della sua malattia e vive solo di lavoro forsennato): "Se il mare fosse stato fermo un secondo o un minuto o cinque minuti, tanto insomma da dare a un uomo il tempo di intromettersi con una parola, un grido, una canzone, o una maledizione..."Ecco Daphne chiusa in ospedale: "Infilava gli aghi nella tela, ricamando una rosa, perché oramai sembrava che di norma le rose non crescessero più nei giardini bensì sulle tovaglie, sui cuscini, sui paraventi". Ecco sua madre che ripete nei momenti più bui, «Abbiate fede»: "Non potevi vederla la fede, ma era da qualche parte per aiutarti, come l'aria che doveva togliere le grinze alle divise di scuola; così era ora col disegno spiegazzato e scomposto".Ecco suo padre davanti ai bambini: "Non avevano mai visto piangere il padre. Sapevano che i padri si arrabbiano e gridano per i conti da pagare e perché le figlie portano i pantaloni, e che ridono con le commesse, e alle volte con le madri; ma mai avevano pensato che i padri potessero piangere".

  • Debbie
    2019-06-28 10:08

    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 of three siblings in particular. You get a real feel for the culture of the society of those times, and this is particularly interesting for me being based in NZ at the moment as it gives me an insight and a reference point (though I recognise it as an intimate and subjective one) of a particular period in New Zealand's history. The story is both witty and sad in equal parts.I am left feeling quite well acquainted with the characters in this book, and that to me is a real success. This was her first novel, and if it's anything to go by I am sure Frame will become one of my favourite authors.

  • Ensiform
    2019-07-18 07:12

    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 institution staffed by pushy attendants and smiling, clueless doctors, getting ECT; and Toby is a slightly mentally off (“a shingle short,” as the book has it, in Australian slang) epileptic who works as some sort of scrap dealer. He lives at home, is unnoticed by women, and cannot empathize with his long-sacrificing parents.I read this book as part of a project in which strangers dictated online what books I should read. This is a good example of the kind of book that I would probably not, left to my own devices, decide to read. The literary world is strewn with examples of the child, child-like, or free-association narrator (Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha, Room, Riddley Walker, Thy Servant a Dog), and while I've enjoyed some of these, I often find the style more laborious than it is worth the literary payoff. Frame occasionally expresses Daphne’s disjointed observations through blank verse, a bit too abstruse for my tastes --- perhaps a bit too close to an actual schizophrenic look at the world. It’s a fully autobiographical novel: Frame was one of five children, two of whom died, one of whom was epileptic, and she spent time in a mental institution, even being scheduled for a lobotomy at one point. Given its utterly, thoroughly bleak tone, this makes for uncomfortable reading --- and criticizing; what can one say, really, about the madness of this grim life? Frame is a good prose stylist with some clever imagery at her disposal and is capable of writing very much from the point of view of a child. She also has that power of the novelist, to put herself in the lives of minor characters (but again, it’s unrelentingly grim, as we see the nurse push away her loneliness and poor self-image, to blossom only through the petty power she has in the asylum). And I’m exceedingly glad Frame's literary talents saved her from the madhouse. But I’m not sure I’m better for having read this novel of poverty, isolation, murderers, lack of understanding, and the crushing indifference of everyone.

  • Sarah Anne
    2019-07-08 06:13

    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 where I honestly couldn't tell what was really happening. This is where the effect of reading and listening together was most deeply felt. And did I mention there were a lot of those scenes?This book had an interesting emotional impact on me because I swung wildly between sympathy, choking frustration, and absolute shock. I was most interested in Daphne's story, and unfortunately she didn't get to speak until the end, but each character was very skillfully rendered in a complex and human way. These were people with layers and layers to their personalities and psyches.This was a completely brilliant novel and it only made it more interesting to me to learn that it was based in part on the author's life experiences. I can't wait to read more by the author.

  • Richard Derus
    2019-07-07 08:04

    Rating: The Full FiveAbsolutely my favorite Kiwi novel. I learned so much about the national character of the country I feel I should have been born in.

  • Anastasia
    2019-07-01 09:03

    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 verifichi nulla di concreto, se non un lungo sedimentare eventi passati di cui a volte non possiamo nemmeno essere protagonisti. Nulla contro l'idea che un romanzo possa anche essere così, ma io mi sono sentita trascinata in una costante inconsistenza, pur capendo che in realtà la parte più bella sembra essere proprio il lirismo con cui le singole personalità della famiglia vengono presentate. Eh, ma nota dolente: lo stile della Frame mi ha dato un fastidio di cui quasi mi vergogno goffamente. L'unica giustificazione che posso addurre è che semplicemente non fa per me, la sua "imagery" mi verrebbe da dire, il suo linguaggio "figurativo" con tutte le metafore e le similitudini come il suo stile mi sono scivolati addosso, anzi, forse posso additare a maggiore colpevole proprio questo fattore. Non mi hanno colpita, le ho ingerite come una caramella al limone o all'arancia, di quelle che mando giù senza sentirne particolarmente il piacevole pur avvertendone una sorta di delicatezza, grazia. Una volta mandate giù però non rimane niente se non l'idea di un'indigestione di caramelle di second'ordine per il mio povero palato. Riferendomi al solito de gustibus, ovviamente.Davanti a cose come "mi fermerò a riprendere fiato sotto gli immensi eucaliptus della mia mente" (riporto a memoria, e viste le condizioni di codesto catorcio, non so se sia riportato con esattezza) vorrei avere il potere di fermarmi e pensare che si affascinante, ma la verità è che mi fanno strano e basta, e non ne afferro nemmeno il significato più profondo che dovrebbe andare ad incidere nel lettore. Sarà anche il periodo che non mi consente di recepire questo tipo di stile, sentendo il bisogno di maggiore concretezza nei libri che leggo. A dir la verità spesso ho pensato anche che le vicende personali dei personaggi fossero persino poco significanti da trasmettere, anche se ritiro critiche di questo tipo perché capisco che dietro si celi una sorta di autobiografia molto indiretta della stessa Frame. La pochezza della vita interiore di Teresa in rapporto alle giornate frenetiche in "società" non mi sorprendono nella loro resa, anzi, ho letto libri migliori riguardo allo stesso monumentale argomento. L'emarginazione dei pazzi in manicomio? Così dev'essere come l'ha vissuto la Frame stessa, ma io mi sono sentita più trasportata da altre storie al riguardo. Toby? No, ammetto che di epilettici non ne incontro tutti i giorni nei libri che leggo, ma mi è scivolato addosso pure lui.Insomma: ci siamo totalmente mancate, Janet.

  • Sandy Hogarth
    2019-06-25 07:00

    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 creature that imagination is. The novel covers 20 years and as Margaret Drabble says in the Introduction, one of the first works of fiction to deal with life in a mental institution. And Frame’s first full length work, originally published in 1957. Margaret Drabble quotes from Janet Frame’s superb autobiography, Wrestling with Angels. ‘I have got to learn that I am alone forever…Looking at living for me is like looking mentally through the wrong end of opera glasses.’ There is much of Daphne in this, her fragility, her aloneness.Daphne is a ‘special’ to her father, Bob Withers, for whom a special was some line of fresh food or clothing put cheap in the shops or on Friday.’ To her visiting father she says, “‘I hate you’, she said. ‘Go away. The snow is too heavy in falling and it falls criss-cross like a tapestry, so go away.’”I’d love to quote the breathtaking last lines, which concern her father but I must resist. Read it and find out.A novel, to quote Margaret Drabble again, who puts it so much better than I can, ‘Owls Do Cry is ‘a mingled cry of joy and pain’. And survival.Frame wrote many books after this and I am working my way through them. A brilliant, brave and imaginative writer.

  • Nathan
    2019-07-04 12:00

    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 often spin out into strings of detailed description and vivid sensory images. Sometimes it's kind of stream of consciousness and sometimes it's something else...a non-traditional third-person narrative, maybe? It's a strange book, but I didn't have any trouble following what was going on. All of its weirdness added to the powerful effect of the writing.I'm surprised this book doesn't have more reviews. It's a sad tale, but its telling is excellent. I'd recommend it to anyone who's willing to try a story told in completely different way than a typical novel.

  • Sarah
    2019-07-06 10:16

    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.
    2019-06-24 09:26

    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 indicate this to be the case. I'm savoring her books, one at a time, just like I had rationed Virginia Woolf until they were done, as there are so few...Janet Frame, like Woolf, is a writer's writer. I have learned so much about myself as a writer reading books that are so fearless in their prose, I feel inspired... encouraged... grateful. This is one of those books I love to call a "human document" because they have that glimpse into life, the dreams and realities, harrowing grief that also knows and understands the beauty of joy...the painful and sometimes terrifying truths gently covered by the lies we tell ourselves and each other to make things bearable during the darkest times...the daughter seeing her father as a gray man, a stranger, his face crumbling as he struggles with the shock of seeing her shaved head, prepared for surgery "to fix her". The father telling his daughter that everything is going to be all right. "All sun. The ripening fruit of sky bleeding, bandaged with snow-skin of autumn cloud; the noon light dripping from the trees in gold flakes called leaves..." (page 46)Linger through it, savor it, don't let it flow away too quickly..."If I travel a hundred miles to find treasure, I will find treasure. If I travel a hundred miles to find nothing, even if I bring money with me, to lay it down in exchange, I will find nothing." (Page 176.)

  • Reenie
    2019-06-29 05:06

    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 overplayed with its ironic follow-ups for the characters, but on the whole, I think i'll forgive it.I'll definitely be following up by looking up more of her books - still finding it a little odd, as a New Zealander, to realise that our Janet Frame, who we tend to think of as simply our most famous, best author, was also internationally highly regarded, and decently well-known (multiple copies of all her books in the NYPL! Woot!). Not because we don't think she was good, but just because that usually doesn't count when it comes to kiwis been known by everyone else, or we have no real measure for when great in NZ also translates to great everywhere.

  • Lisa
    2019-07-06 09:10

    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 is painful, especially rendered in this remarkable reading by Heather Bolton. The local rubbish-dump is a symbol for how families like this survived in New Zealand society of the time; it is where the children play, where they find ‘treasure’, and where tragedy strikes. For the rest of my review please visit

  • Terri Jacobson
    2019-07-05 09:02

    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 beautiful and almost poetic. She writes brilliantly about the inner life of her characters, and a sense of desperation and tragedy haunts the novel. A very worthwhile reading experience.

  • Emily
    2019-06-29 05:22

    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
    2019-07-08 11:11

    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 character is Chicks/Teresa. She develops into such a snob; she is so embarrassed about her poor family that she is unable to attend her mother's funeral citing a wonderfully weak excuse. She desperately desires acceptance in a wealthy society and she sees fulfillment in the appliances she owns. The scene where she tries to impress the cultured doctor with Beethoven's 5th Symphony is hilarious, as too her beauty products equating expense with effectiveness.The internal dialogue of Daphne in the mental hospital is inspired and shows that Frame was a talent right from the start. Finally, Toby is a tragic figure that lacks inspiration and embodies all the hatreds Frame had about the stultifying parochial New Zealand of the 50s & 60s. She has quite a bitchy tongue sometimes.Too many critics see this as an autobiographical novel. It is true, there are many aspects to her life & she always admitted that the parents were copies of her own parents, but it is much more - she uses her early life experiences to build on her themes and characters.The Epilogue is funny & witty & clever and takes a final swipe at New Zealand & the countries expectations. The "winner" is Daphne: fresh from mental hospital, lobotomised, she becomes the model employee and wins a massive promotion. Only those conformists get somewhere here; Frame is definitely not a conformist and would go to do great things.

  • Equestrienne
    2019-07-06 10:15

    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 believe that Owls Do Cry is about how about how the author, Janet Frame, was treated in her youth during her mental illness. I'm fairly sure that Daphne is a character created to tell Janet's story, although one is not quite sure what is what with this book. My favourite quote from this book would be; "..... first the farm cries from the hill, the lariat of surging animal talk whipped in and out of the morning mist....." I chose this because this novel provides no good quotes to choose from, so instead I picked a piece of prose that the author uses when speaking in Daphne's voice. I must admit, Frame's prose and imagination use of metaphors is second to none. Something I learnt from this book was how badly and rudely people with medical illnesses are treated,now, and then.This is a bit of a confusing read, but a good one. Still a bit unsure of how I feel about this book...........

  • Text Publishing
    2019-07-02 11:11

    ‘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…It is also a vivid social document, capturing the language and texture of the postwar period. It is a heartbreaking evocation of childhood and a child’s vision of the world; and not least, it is a work of considerable lyrical beauty.’Irish Times‘The first great New Zealand novel and a modernist masterpiece…Owls Do Cry remains innovative and relevant. Frame’s idiosyncratic and startlingly visual style means that the book’s immense power to unnerve, astonish and impress endures.’Guardian

  • Bex
    2019-06-24 12:23

    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 as ludicrous as you'd expect from someone admiring but never immersing themselves. IT SHOULD BE A FIVE STAR RATING. MAYBE I'LL CHANGE IT LATER. For now I am a left a little disheartened, not so much at the text, but at my own inability to recognize the brilliance because I foolishly expected more.This has been a lesson in idolizing, kids.

  • Inken
    2019-06-24 04:08

    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 aspirations. How Daphne perceives the world around her and the people she encounters contains the most poetic imagery, but despite the abuse Daphne suffers in the home, it is the passages from Theresa’s diary in which she unknowingly describes her desperate need to be accepted by those she considers her “betters” that are the most moving.

  • Mimi
    2019-07-01 04:20

    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. There is suffering, but no blame, even in Frame's painful depiction of Daphne's institutionalization.

  • Jade Lopert
    2019-07-19 06:21

    Recommended by my grandma and sitting on my bookshelf for years, so we'll see? <-------before readingAfter 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 developed. Final say would be "enjoyable, but too 'literary' for it's own good."

  • Jessica
    2019-06-23 12:24

    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.

  • Ruth
    2019-07-20 04:00

    Beautiful, sad, wonderful.

  • Helen McClory
    2019-06-20 08:20

    One long protracted cry of sadness against the grimy sadness of the world.

  • Rebecca McNutt
    2019-06-22 08:02

    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.

  • Lucrezia
    2019-07-21 08:08

    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...