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Angela's Ashes [Hardcover]

Frank McCourt
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,494 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'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'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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Portrait of a Young Irishman Sept. 6 2012
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 work by an Irish writer a response to his body of work. I read 'Angela's Ashes' as a story within the tradition of Joyce's novel for a few reasons. First, this book is about Frank McCourt's spiritual maturity, with a slight nod to his artistic temperament as well. Second, poverty, class, and religion are prominent themes in both books. Last, the narrative (excepting the first thirty or so pages) matures as the younger Francis does. However concrete these parallels are, McCourt only makes tacit homage to Joyce. 'Angela's Ashes' inverts the search for artistry, and favours Frank McCourt's personal ambition to overcome poverty. In that respect, it's an Irish-American memoir because of its focus on class and McCourt's own "American dream."
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What a great book! Sept. 1 2012
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 just to survive. I loved the honesty in which the author told his story and I was taken into a world otherwise that I would never have known. Bravo!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Angela's Ashes Jan. 21 2004
Angela's Ashes, by Frank McCourt, is the story of an Irish Cathloic boy born in the United States who learns to adapt to the poverty stricken town of Limerick. Frank vividly recaps the disturbing events of his childhood, while keeping the reader hopeful right up to the last page. Although Frank has to take on the man of the house role, while his father drinks himself stupid, his determined will to survive pervails. This memoir is narrated in the first person by a young Frank who uses blunt language and childish syntax. After reading this book you will feel like you can overcome any obstacle you experience with a smile on your face.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Mr McCourt was the unfortunate victim of a disease - his father's alcoholism - and not that fate worse than death, an Irish Catholic childhood.His story strains credibility;moreover, he perpetuates negative stereotypes. I loved his verbal agility and hated his manipulation of the reader
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Insulting to the Irish July 24 2000
By A Customer
McCourt's memoir perpetuates every existing stereotype about the Irish, and caters to a few new ones. He seems to indict an entire country for his family's most particular kind of poverty, which is misleading and unfair. James Joyce's works, with their less-than-flattering depictions of Dublin life, seem almost nationalistic in comparison. No non-Irish person should read this book believing that it represents the true state of affairs in Limerick, much less Ireland as a whole.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars I was disappointed in ANGELA'S ASHES! June 1 1999
Format:Audio Cassette
Having seen and heard Frank and Malachy McCourt on talk shows, I was anxious but trepeditious upon picking up this novel (memoir). Trepeditious because both of them seemed like con men to me. I think this is a whining, complaining, self seeking journey with an ending which bespeaks the true character of McCourt and his family, get-what-you-can, get laid, and get to America. My own Irish ancestors on my mother's side were just as poor, had just as much sickness, has their share of drunks, and their own personal tragedies. Did they resort to knocking Ireland, knocking the Catholic Church, making fun of native customs? No, their faith was a bedrock upon which their lives rested, their humor was directed toward themselves, not others, and their poverty was overcome by honest means--not by stealing. This book may have been on the New York Times best seller list for eternity. It was a waste of my time. McCourt has a lyrical Irish voice. Too bad it couldn't have been put to better use.
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4.0 out of 5 stars very interesting biography Oct. 4 2013
By dlr33
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Not quite as compelling as 'The Glass Castle' by Jeannette Walls, but very interesting as a follow up. I'd recommend it.
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Most recent customer reviews
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 7 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 11 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 11 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 15 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 16 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 18 months ago by Dawn
5.0 out of 5 stars Endearing and witty, he writes with charm
One could think "How could anyone grow up in this environment and make it out sane?" But he manages to relive his life and bring it forward with such wit and charm, the true Irish... Read more
Published 22 months ago by Frances
5.0 out of 5 stars The Finest Memoir from the Foremost Memoirist of Our Time
In a time when memoirs became the finest expressions of high literary art, "Angela's Ashes" ascended with alacrity to become the most exalted of them. Read more
Published on Sept. 24 2010 by John Kwok
5.0 out of 5 stars Angela's Ashes
Excellent portrayal of life as a kid growing up in poverty. Outstanding use of language appropriate to his age.
Published on July 25 2010 by Paul Maarschalk, Kelowna, BC
5.0 out of 5 stars amazing.....
Loved it when it first came out. Read the next 2 sequels - 'Tis was great.
Published on May 6 2010 by lafleurpetite
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