Owls Do Cry (A Women's Press classic) Paperback – 1 Apr 2002
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'The most considerable New Zealand novelist yet' Patrick White 'A kind of personal archaeology, painstaking and intensely felt' Times Literary Supplement
Owls Do Cry is the first novel of one of New Zealand's most acclaimed classic writers, Janet Frame. Hailed as a masterpiece on first publication in 1957, it is comparable to Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar and One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.See all Product description
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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.
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