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Angela's Ashes [Hardcover]

Frank McCourt
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,495 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Sept. 5 1996
"When I look back on my childhood I wonder how I managed to survive at all. It was, of course, a miserable childhood: the happy childhood is hardly worth your while. Worse than the ordinary miserable childhood is the miserable Irish childhood, and worse yet is the miserable Irish Catholic childhood."
So begins the luminous memoir of Frank McCourt, born in Depression-era Brooklyn to recent Irish immigrants and raised in the slums of Limerick, Ireland. Frank's mother, Angela, has no money to feed the children since Frank's father, Malachy, rarely works, and when he does he drinks his wages. Yet Malachy -- exasperating, irresponsible and beguiling-- does nurture in Frank an appetite for the one thing he can provide: a story. Frank lives for his father's tales of Cuchulain, who saved Ireland, and of the Angel on the Seventh Step, who brings his mother babies.
Perhaps it is story that accounts for Frank's survival. Wearing rags for diapers, begging a pig's head for Christmas dinner and gathering coal from the roadside to light a fire, Frank endures poverty, near-starvation and the casual cruelty of relatives and neighbors--yet lives to tell his tale with eloquence, exuberance and remarkable forgiveness.
Angela's Ashes, imbued on every page with Frank McCourt's astounding humor and compassion, is a glorious book that bears all the marks of a classic.

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From Amazon

"Worse than the ordinary miserable childhood is the miserable Irish childhood," writes Frank McCourt in Angela's Ashes. "Worse yet is the miserable Irish Catholic childhood." Welcome, then, to the pinnacle of the miserable Irish Catholic childhood. Born in Brooklyn in 1930 to recent Irish immigrants Malachy and Angela McCourt, Frank grew up in Limerick after his parents returned to Ireland because of poor prospects in America. It turns out that prospects weren't so great back in the old country either--not with Malachy for a father. A chronically unemployed and nearly unemployable alcoholic, he appears to be the model on which many of our more insulting cliches about drunken Irish manhood are based. Mix in abject poverty and frequent death and illness and you have all the makings of a truly difficult early life. Fortunately, in McCourt's able hands it also has all the makings for a compelling memoir.

From School Library Journal

YA. Despite impoverishing his family because of his alcoholism, McCourt's father passed on to his son a gift for superb storytelling. He told him about the great Irish heroes, the old days in Ireland, the people in their Limerick neighborhood, and the world beyond their shores. McCourt writes in the voice of the child?with no self-pity or review of events?and just retells the tales. He recounts his desperately poor early years, living on public assistance and losing three siblings, but manages to make the book funny and uplifting. Stories of trying on his parents' false teeth and his adventures as a post-office delivery boy will have readers laughing out loud. Young people will recognize the truth in these compelling tales; the emotions expressed; the descriptions of teachers, relatives, neighbors; and the casual cruelty adults show toward children. Readers will enjoy the humor and the music in the language. A vivid, wonderfully readable memoir.?Patricia Noonan, Prince William Public Library, VA
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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My father and mother should have stayed in New York where they met and married and where I was born. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One Of A Kind April 28 2005
Format:Paperback
Yes....it's about an Irish childhood, according to Mr. McCourt the worst childhood you could ever have in those years.
I am just one of the millions that have read this book, making me one of McCourt's fan.
Why I like this book?. Firt of all, I am no Irish (I'm an asian) ; I had no idea how bad growing up in Europe would be like in those days. I've seen movies and all ...but with this book, I can actually not only picture his life, but feeling the hardship he and his family went through. He showed me very clearly life in Ireland was at the time...and at the same time, showed me how beautiful Ireland is too !.
It made me realize, no matter what you are, where you come from, who you are, what your belief is,..the concept of life is the same everywhere. He made me looked back on my own childhood and really value it.
I have also read the sequel "'Tis"...and I can't wait for the next one "The Teacher Man"..will be released in November this year!.
To me, he is a very one of a kind writer. I definitely agree when one of his professors told him he's got a 'rich past(childhood)'. I also like his way of writing...it's almost like he's speaking his mind right out to me when I'm reading it.
Frank McCourt is definitely one of my favourites.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Survival May 13 2004
Format:Audio Cassette
This book tells the story of the childhood of Frank McCourt. McCourt was just an ordinary boy, born in New York City of Irish immigrant parents. After a family tragedy, his parents returned to Ireland with the children. And that's how this little kid from New York City ended up growing up in a lane in an Irish slum, learning essential survival skills like how to keep his belly full and his feet dry. It seemed that everything that could go wrong did- -Frank's father was a drunk who couldn't bring home a paycheck for more than a few weeks running, the house where they lived was flooded each spring from the lane's common privy, and educational opportunities were quite limited for boys without funds. In such circumstances, the only way to survive is not to fret about tomorrow or what the neighbors might think, but to go ever forward with determined independence.
As I listened to this story as read by the author, I kept hearing my own grandfather's voice. Yes, I'd heard all the stories about childhood deprivation and inner strength, about drunken fathers and run-down houses, but I'd never really listened when my grandfather told them. "He's exaggerating," I thought, "Nobody ever lived like that." But after hearing the details of Frank's childhood, I realize that my grandfather wasn't complaining about his childhood or looking for sympathy. He was just trying to paint a picture of the experiences that he lived through, which were so very different from my own. There was something about my grandfather's style of speaking that made him sound different from everyone else I knew. He was born in the US so he didn't have an Irish accent at all, but there was something peculiar about the rhythm of his speech and the style of relating to others that I never noticed in other people's voices.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unforgettable memoir Sept. 1 2007
Format:Paperback
I read this book years ago and it left a mark. It's one of the best autobiographies I've ever read, mesmerizing to say the least. Mr. McCourt recounts his childhood in Ireland, surrounded by poverty and hunger, up until the time when his dream comes true: going to the USA in search of a better life.

The prose is powerful and conveys a very clear picture of his life. It makes you laugh, it makes you cry, some graphic descriptions might even make you look away, but what I truly liked about this book is the absence of sorrowfullness, expecially when depicting some incredibly miserable events.

I went on to read " 'Tis ", the sequel, and found it to be as good as "Angela's Ashes", perhaps a bit less powerful but great nevertheless. Get both books if you havent's yet read them.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Angela's Ashes by Brittany Pierce March 2 2004
Format:Paperback
Angela's Ashes is a tale of an American born boy who moves to Ireland as a small child. The book reveals his entire life. Francis McCourt, son of Angela and Malachy of Limerick Ireland. WIth a family if constantly changing numbers Francies battles through the worst challenges that the Irish slums can throw at him. Malachy is a depressed alcaholic who never holds a job for more than 2 weeks. Even when he does work he drinks away his pay check and leaves his family to suffer through life without his assistance. Angela is severly depressed and doesn't know herself well enough to know her own children or anyone else either. Francis is her first child, one of 8 he soon learned the value of being independent and remaining primarily self sufficient. Around age 7 he takes on the role of taking care of his younger siblings. With no heat, shoes, shabby clothes, little to no food and a life of eviction and confusion Francis rose above all the odds to concor his dreams of moving to America and making a better life for himself and his family if he couuld. By working hard and getting any job he could he tried to save everyone, espeacially himself.
I highly applaud this book and think that everyone should read it at least once in their life. The story reveals remarkable clarity and unique perspectives of a world seldom explored by choice and all too often overlooked. The new view of an old clishe flows with interesting details and remarkable feats. Life is constantly changing and this book reveals the details of survival in a harsh world where life is often taken for granted and things are worse than they appear. The inncent clarity on the bitter reality proves the true intention of the book.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Excellent read! Very poignant!!
Published 1 month ago by MW
4.0 out of 5 stars very interesting biography
Not quite as compelling as 'The Glass Castle' by Jeannette Walls, but very interesting as a follow up. I'd recommend it.
Published 12 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful story
I have read and re read this several times. Once after reading a terrible autobiography, so I could scrub the poorly written , uninteresting story out of my mind, and replace it... Read more
Published 14 months ago by Seana Veinot
5.0 out of 5 stars Angela's Ashes: A Memoir
I loved the story. It is very relatable in many aspects.
I would recomend it to everybody. I lived similar story.
Published 17 months ago by Krystyna Bellamy
1.0 out of 5 stars Not what I expected
Didn't know it would be a very much shortened version of the book! Bought it to replace a much loved original version, and was very disappointed.
Published 17 months ago by Maureen McKelvie
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Book!
This book was very hard to put down and strongly recommended to various different readers. Definitely a must read for anyone.
Published 21 months ago by Michael Walker
4.0 out of 5 stars Emotionally Engaging
This book is emotionally engaging and will take you on a journey that will make you angry, sad and happy. As a memoir the book is a view from a child's eye on growing up poor. Read more
Published 22 months ago by Murray
5.0 out of 5 stars Top of my list of best books I ever read.
I love this book so much I wish I had read it years ago when it first came out so I could have read it to my son. Read more
Published on Oct. 17 2012 by Dawn
5.0 out of 5 stars A Portrait of a Young Irishman
My review's title deliberately refers to James Joyce's 'A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man'. Joyce is regarded as "the great Irish author" in several circles, which can make... Read more
Published on Sept. 6 2012 by AP
5.0 out of 5 stars What a great book!
This book is about the author's life living in extreme poverty in Ireland when he was growing up. It's blunt and often humourous despite the hardships that the family goes through... Read more
Published on Sept. 1 2012 by A Customer
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