Angela's Ashes (Frank McCourt, #1)
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Angela's Ashes (Frank McCourt #1)

4.03 of 5 stars 4.03  ·  rating details  ·  304,931 ratings  ·  7,526 reviews
“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 Bro...more
Paperback, 432 pages
Published October 3rd 2005 by Harper Perennial (first published 1996)
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Eric Althoff
Before I get too deep into my review, let me just say this: "Angela's Ashes" is one of the most depressing books I have ever read. That said, it is also fascinating, heartbreaking, searingly honest narration told in the face of extreme poverty and alcoholism. This absolutely entrancing memoir follows an Irish-American-Irish-American (more on this later) boy who comes of age during the Depression and the War years in a country gripped in the stranglehold of the Catholic Church, tradition, rampant...more
David
But the worst offender of the last twenty years has to be the uniquely meretricious drivel that constitutes "Angela's Ashes". Dishonest at every level, slimeball McCourt managed to parlay his mawkish maunderings to commercial success, presumably because the particular assortment of rainsodden cliches hawked in the book not only dovetails beautifully with the stereotypes lodged in the brain of every American of Irish descent, but also panders to the lummoxes collective need to feel superior becau...more
George Bradford
“If you had the luck of the Irish
You’d be sorry and wish you was dead
If you had the luck of the Irish
Then you’d wish you was English instead”

How can ONE book be so WONDERFUL and so HORRIBLE at the same time? I have no idea. But this book is both. Big time.

It’s difficult to imagine anything worse than a childhood crushed under the oppressive conditions of abject poverty, relentless filth and unmitigated suffering. The childhood described in this book is the worst I’ve ever encountered. The “luck...more
Gail
What, did NO one find this book funny except me??? I must be really perverse.
Although the account of Frank's bad eyes was almost physically painful to read, the rest of the story didn't seem too odd or sad or overdone to me. My dad's family were immigrants; his father died young of cirrhosis of the liver, leaving my grandmother to raise her six living children (of a total of 13) on a cleaning woman's pay. So? Life was hard. They weren't Irish and they lived in New York, but when you hear that yo...more
Teresa
In Angela's Ashes, Frank McCourt paints a picture of a childhood mired in poverty. He manages to be humorous and heartbreaking, and hopeless and triumphant all at once. I laughed, I cried, I felt dearly for the disadvantaged McCourt family that struggled against all odds.

The memoir borrows heavily from the art of realism -- as tales of impoverished childhoods usually are. McCourt was born in depression era Brooklyn to an alcoholic father who spent all his wages at the bar, and a mother disgraced...more
M is for Mallory
I can't put this down! I'm getting such a dark kick out of Frank McCourt's childhood. Favorite line that had me laughing out loud: "Oy, you Irish. You'll live forever but you'll never say challah like a Chew." I'm devastated this book is ending; it's been the most pleasurable part of my days over the past week. It's of course depressing, I mean, like he says in opening "Worse than the ordinary miserable childhood is the miserable Irish childhoood, and worse yet is the miserable Irish Catholic ch...more
MadMelvina
One of my most favorite books and authors of all time. I can't get enough of Frank's stories. I also listened to him tell it on an audio recording, and it's even more awesome listening to his Irish accent. The most compelling characteristic of his writing is the ability to write about a subject as dire and despairing as poverty and neglect, and make it so blisteringly funny, I'm in tears. Then in another chapter, I'm crying with grief over the loss of his siblings and the humiliations of his mot...more
Alicia
There are not words to describe how horrible I felt this book was. First, I was somehow under the impression that it was a WWII novel, so that was a disappointment to begin with. I really felt like the theme of this novel was how to survive life's trials and difficulties by masturbating. Someone please tell me if I am way off here.
Angela Paquin
It's been ten years since I've read this book. Like everyone else I was floored by it when it first came out. But time and age have made me wiser.

I don't think it's stood the test of time and the more I think of it... my grandmother is right. It's a one-sided, depressing view of life in Ireland.

"Woah is me..." is the book in a nutshell. This book simply has you marinate in negativity. Maybe I've read too much Phillip Roth in the meantime and compared to his characters this book seems too whiny...more
Mark
Couldn't bear it. Whiney, self-obsessed and smacked of disingenuity. Using misery, either yours (imagined) or others (purloined) to make money seems to be the height/depth of cheap shots. Someone once told me of a review of the book that they had read somewhere

'Baby born, baby died, baby born, baby died, baby born, baby died, baby born, baby died; it rained'.

Admittedy there was more to it than that, however I read it a long time ago and the gloom of the misery and rain hangs still over the whole...more
Adam Floridia
I had not planned on writing a proper review, so I began to read others'. Quite a few unleashed verbal vitriol at McCourt's memoir, claiming that it is not entirely accurate and that it is too mawkish/maudlin/bathetic. Others claim that the author romanticizes the penury and destitution of the lives in his lane.

First, no memoir can ever be 100% truthful; our memories are incomplete and sporadic (at best). In fact, as I read I liked that there were NO quotation marks used to indicate speech. I a...more
Nandakishore Varma

This review may contain what some may consider as spoilers. On the whole, I don't think reading this will take away your enjoyment of the book, however, I just had to put the warning here.

This review has now been shifted to my BLOG .
Beth F.
I ended up really enjoying this book, in spite of my earlier frustrations with it.

To say this book is depressing is one of the grossest understatements I've made in the past year. The book is narrated by the very young Frank McCourt and follows a child's stream of consciousness to describe the things he sees but doesn't always understand. As he gets older, the narration implies less and becomes more stark as Frankie develops the ability to see and understand what is happening in his family.

Ther...more
John
Overpraised and insubstantive, the first installment in Frank McCourt's memoir cycle, Angela's Ashes, is mostly based around such an obvious cycle that its mind-numbing: "Times were tough and we were on the dole. Me father drank and came home late at night waking us up and making us swear we'd die for Ireland. Me mother and me father fought and he shaped up. Got a job, but nobody liked him because he was from the dirty north. So he drank his first Friday's paycheck, was late to work on Saturday,...more
Julie H.
What a beautiful book. You will never look at your home's second story the same way again after reading of the flooding incident and how the family retreated to the upper story. I add this to the long line of reasons for wishing my Grandmother were still around so that I could ask about stories of our family's past in Cork. Read. This. Book.
Jan C
I loved this book. I started out buying it as a gift for my mother. That might have been the last time I visited her at Christmas time (I'm not crazy about driving trips in the winter). And while there, I started reading it. I knew it I had to buy it for myself when I returned home. I did. And I read the book in about a week, if that long.

I'm part Irish. But you don't have to be Irish to like this book. Matter of fact, a lot of the Irish didn't like it because it exposed just how poverty strick...more
Peter Namtvedt
Apr 06, 2009 Peter Namtvedt rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Those who love romanticist fiction but have some tolerance for naturalism.
This is the unfinished story of Angela, the mother of Francis McCourt (aka Frank McCourt, the author). Many readers may feel it is written in bitterness, but they must be wrong. The book bubbles with wit. Readers may feel it is a tale of despair, but it leads to a future not yet told. Some may feel it is shot-through with cruelty, gilding grime and polishing puke, praising primitiveness and lauding ill health and death.

McCourt certainly draws the reader into the hollowness of poverty, disease, a...more
Anastasia
C'ho questa voglia matta di andare in Irlanda che non mi si scolla più di dosso.

Giuro, saranno due o tre giorni che rompo le scatole ai miei con 'sta storia. Sono sorpresi, visto che a me dell'Irlanda fino a poco fa non me ne poteva fregar di meno. Il potere dei libri. Se c'è una cosa che è riuscito a far bene McCourt è descrivere il suo paese, e ora che mi sono affezionata a questa storia, non riesco a far nient'altro che pensare al mio nuovo obiettivo: l'Irlanda.

Leggere Le ceneri di Angela è...more
Carolyn
Angela’s Ashes is the first of three memoirs written by Irish author Frank McCourt. Angela’s Ashes was published in 1996, and won the Pulitzer Prize for Biography or Autobiography. The story was made into a film directed by Alan Parker in 1999.
Frank McCourt begins his story with the tale of how his parents meet in Brooklyn, New York. When Malachy gets his mother Angela pregnant with Frank, she marries him and the two start their life together in a small apartment in Brooklyn. Angela gives bir...more
Amina
Oh from where am I going to start ?
Well let's start from the title !

" Mom has tears on her eyelashes she pulls her chair over the fire place ..starts crying ..and looks into the ashes "

"Mom turns toward the dead ashes .."

Angela's ashes stands for the crumbling hopes and dreams of the poor mother Angela who wants acutely her family to be in a good state and not in need, as all mothers do, but she is frustrated by the drunkard father, who never does what he says. ( deeds are better than words man...more
Elisa
Dal camposanto vedo le alte rovine del castello di Carrigogunnell e ho ancora un sacco di tempo per risalire la stradina in bici, sedermi sul muro più alto, guardare lo Shannon che scorre verso l'Atlantico sulla via per l'America e sognare del giorno in cui anch'io prenderò il largo.

Ci sono i romanzi in cui i personaggi sono fittizi. Concentrati di vizi, virtù e miserie partoriti ad hoc per le pagine di un libro. L'autore è un creatore: con due miseri ingredienti, carta e penna, ha definito e...more
Kecia
May 10, 2007 Kecia rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: inhabitants of suburbia
I read an interview with the author who said he was surprised by the number of American students who said they wished they had had a childhood like his. After reading his story of extreme poverty and loss I think I understand his students. McCourt had a childhood, that while extreme and difficult, was at least filled with spiritual grace. An American middle class child of strip malls, Chuck E Cheese parties, and television is certainly more comfortable but can leave one with a deadened soul. A w...more
Patrick
Entertaining and amazing story. I'm a bit biased, perhaps, being part Irish. And having been to Ireland on vacation last year. I'm now dying to read 'Tis.
Dervishi
Angela's Ashes was really not the sort of book I would enjoy. In fact, I found that the further it progressed, the less enthusiastic I became. McCourt uses the modern technique of describing the protagonist's struggles and life day by day. The intention is to make his own unique experiences feel universal because people look past each individual day and look at it as a whole, and see the supposedly universal themes.

However, I am not a believer or practitioner of this contemporary writing style....more
Jowayriah Bookish
Knowing that I've never enjoyed a book I was forced to read , I find the fact that I've relished every second reading Angela's Ashes pretty impressive .

Oh Frankie !

“When I look back on my childhood I wonder how I survived 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."

When I first read this , I thought " Wel...more
Mitch Albom
I read his book, then I got to know him, and rarely will you find as similar a voice between the man and the writer as in this memoir. A tragic gem of a childhood story.
Spencer
<< Life-Through a New, Refreshing Lens (Review of Angela's Ashes)

A family, deeply weakened by death, alcohol, and poverty. If you feel like your life has gotten into an uncomfortable groove, you must read this, for this book will add some spice to your life for sure; “Angela’s Ashes”, a truly stunning and heart-wrenching memoir about the author, Frank McCourt’s childhood in the poverty-stricken city of Limerick in Ireland, will hit you like a tidal wave. Optimistic and hopeful, McCourt u...more
David
I read this Pulitzer Prize winner some years ago, and when I found the audiobook in the library read by the author, decided to listen again. The audiobook was superb. The author's Irish accent and his singing of the included songs really brings this book to life. The author grew up in the Catholic slums of Limerick, Ireland. He recounts his miserable childhood with openness and clarity, and an astonishing lack of resentment and bitterness. His father was an alcoholic who immediately drank away a...more
Chiara
La fiction è semplice da analizzare, si può sezionare, guardare al microscopio, distruggere senza alcun rimorso. Ma quando un autore scrive per raccontarti la sua storia allora è diverso, c'è una sorta di timore reverenziale anche soltanto ad iniziare la lettura. Eppure, Frank McCourt ti prende per mano, come se fosse ancora quel bambino di dieci anni, e ti fa correre insieme a lui per le strade umide d'Irlanda, per mostrarti i luoghi della sua infanzia, come farebbe con un coetaneo, in cui tu f...more
Ryan Dietz
Nov 11, 2007 Ryan Dietz rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Everyone
I am currently touring Ireland. I have been here for two months and I leave in a few days. Since I have been here a while I have become more and more interested in Irish life. I have a few Irish friends and I have been fascinated in Ireland's rich and tumultuous history. This book is a heartbreaking and at times humorous story of Frank McCourt's impoverished childhood, the atrocity's the Catholic Church reigned upon the very people they were to be helping and the determination for a better life....more
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Francis "Frank" McCourt was an Irish-American teacher and author. McCourt was born in Brooklyn; however, his family returned to their native Ireland in 1934.

He received the Pulitzer Prize (1997) and National Book Critics Circle Award (1996) for his memoir Angela's Ashes (1996), which details his childhood as a poor Irish Catholic in Limerick. He is also the author of 'Tis (1999), which continues t...more
More about Frank McCourt...
'Tis (Frank McCourt, #2) Teacher Man (Frank McCourt, #3) The Angela's Ashes/'Tis Boxed Set Angela and the Baby Jesus Angela's Ashes/'Tis/Teacher Man

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“You might be poor, your shoes might be broken, but your mind is a palace.” 2736 likes
“It’s lovely to know that the world can’t interfere with the inside of your head.” 303 likes
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