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Angela's Ashes (Frank McCourt #1)

4.05 of 5 stars 4.05  ·  rating details  ·  358,162 ratings  ·  8,489 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
Paperback, 460 pages
Published May 25th 1999 by Scribner (first published 1996)
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Bigbagofdicks It isn't exiting or happy, but the author is very good at description and building worlds in your mind.
Donna Florio It is not a book that harps on anything like sex or violence (aside from the violence of extreme poverty). But it is too long and dark for someone…moreIt is not a book that harps on anything like sex or violence (aside from the violence of extreme poverty). But it is too long and dark for someone under 16-18 in my opinion. I'm not sure that someone too young could absorb the themes in the book. That's up to you, of course.(less)

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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 .
Worse than the ordinary miserable childhood is the miserable Irish childhood, and worse yet is the miserable Irish Catholic childhood.

This book is kind of like that bit in A Chorus Line where the director is making everyone tell him about their childhoods and the one guy goes, "Nobody wants to admit they had a happy childhood." There are two instances where this statement is extremely true: show business, and memoir writing.

Angela's Ashes (which is apparently the first in a series?) chronicles
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
This is one of the most depressing and heartbreaking true-life novels I've ever read so be forewarned, this Pulitzer Prize winner is pretty tough to take.

In the beginning, Francis (Frank) McCourt's family story starts out so desperate, you think it can't get any worse, BUT....IT....DOES!

Frankie had a very short and dreadful childhood in Limerick, Ireland. Even at age four with only the clothes (rags) on his back, he had adult responsibilities caring for his twin baby brothers, changing and washi

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.

Angela’s Ashes is a beautifully written, painfully honest account of Frank McCourt’s childhood in Limerick, Ireland.

Frank’s parents, both Irish, met in New York and began their family there. McCourt himself was born in New York, but this was in the 1930s and the depression hurt everyone and everywhere, especially immigrant Irish with no resources.

So back to Ireland they go to live near his maternal grandmother. 1930s Limerick was not much better than New York, especially for Frank’s father who s
Jonathan Ashleigh
I have to admit that I didn't love the first third of this book but I realize the information gained there made me enjoy the rest even more. At times, this book was a beautiful dark comedy, "There is nothing like a wake for having a good time," and I think that some day I might make my kids promise to die for Ireland. Near the end, the young boy is trying to figure out what adultery is by looking it up in the dictionary; he is forced to look up new words with each explanation he finds and the re ...more
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
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.
Dei servizi igenici.

Ma ci pensate a quanto siamo fortunati ad avere l' acqua corrente che ci permette di sbarazzarci della sporcizia premendo un semplice pulsante?
Ogni volta che caracollavo verso il bagno con il libro in mano (perchè non mentiamoci conoscete un posto più intellettualmente stimolante del bagno? A partire dalla tazza del wc fino ad arrivare alla doccia o alla vasca da bagno) mi veniva in mente il povero Frank che si trascinava su e giù il vaso da notte di Laman Griffin per poters
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
Tadiana ✩ Night Owl☽
This autobiographical book is so lyrical and well-written but, seriously, it ripped my heart into little pieces and then stomped on it. When I read it my children were small, about the ages of Frank and his siblings at the start of the book. I found the story of their neglect-filled childhood in New York and Ireland--with a helpless mother and an alcoholic father who spends his odd paychecks, as well as their welfare payments, in the pubs and lets his family starve and children die--so harrowing ...more
An upbeat reader
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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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 about Frank McCourt...

Other Books in the Series

Frank McCourt (3 books)
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“You might be poor, your shoes might be broken, but your mind is a palace.” 3178 likes
“It’s lovely to know that the world can’t interfere with the inside of your head.” 357 likes
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