FACES IN THE WATER by Janet Frame

FACES IN THE WATER

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The reflection here is that of the patients in a New Zealand mental hospital, and particularly that of Istina Mavel, a school teacher in her early 20's when she first went to Cliffhaven, ""lost in a foreign land"". Necessarily an involute experience, this Ilmns the ""solitary, self-contained worlds"" of those who have withdrawn from reality and here find the sameness of days and nights and years, where past and present and future are indistinct and inseparable. There are the doctors, from young, interested and eventually overworked and cursory Dr. Howell, to those that replace him; the Sisters; the patients: the physically degenerative as well as mentally disordered experiences she witnesses; the intermittent stay at another hospital; the return to Cliffhaven and finally the threat of a lobotomy, cancelled at the last moment, and the substitution of insulin treatment which returns her to a normal world... Janet Frame (Owls Do Cry) has based much of this on what was presumably her own experience, added a poet's sensitivity to the flickering drift of thoughts, fears, memories, -- the frangible ""glass beads of fantasy"". It is limited, however, not only by its theme- but by the fact that Istina Mavel is only known through this experience.

Pub Date: Aug. 21st, 1961
ISBN: 0807609579
Publisher: Braziller