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ebook / ISBN-13: 9780349006680

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‘Owls Do Cry remains innovative and relevant’ GUARDIAN

‘Janet Frame was a unique and troubled soul whose luminous words are the more precious’ HILARY MANTEL

‘Her dark, eloquent song captured my heart ‘ JANE CAMPION

Owls Do Cry is the story of the Withers family: Francie, soon to leave school to start work at the woollen mills; Toby, whose days are marred by the velvet cloak of epilepsy; Chicks, the baby of the family; and Daphne, whose rich, poetic imagination condemns her to a life in institutions.

It 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 think, in fiction, of a childhood, home life, hospital life, using people known to me as a base for main characters, and inventing minor characters’

Regarded by many as one of the best New Zealand novels published, Owls Do Cry forms a loose trilogy with her two subsequent novels, Faces in the Water and The Edge of the Alphabet.


Janet Frame's first novel, Owls Do Cry, created a sensation in New Zealand when it was published in 1957 . . . Her dark, eloquent song captured my heart . . . Frame gave Daphne this inner world of gorgeously imagined riches, but also affirmed it in me, and in countless other sensitive teenage girls: we had been given a voice - poetic, powerful and fated.
Jane Campion
Frame's tormented personal story was reflected in much of her fiction, which centered on the inadequacy of language to convey emotions
Los Angeles Times
Owls Do Cry is a devastating reflection on the character of conventional society and the dangers that await those who reject its narrowness - and as such, is profoundly chilling. It is also a vivid social document, capturing the language and texture of the postwar period
Irish Times
This is the era that saw the emergence of novelists including Doris Lessing, Muriel Spark and Iris Murdoch, and Frame's place alongside them would be assured if she never published anything but this one novel
Independent on Sunday
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
Janet Frame was a unique and troubled soul whose luminous words are the more precious because they were snatched from the jaws of the disaster of her early life
Hilary Mantel