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Angela's Ashes (Frank McCourt #1)

4.06  ·  Rating Details ·  393,968 Ratings  ·  9,348 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, 363 pages
Published May 25th 1999 by Scribner (first published 1996)
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Tom Brennan
This answer contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
Orinoco Womble (tidy bag and all) That's a hard question to answer because we're all different. What bores me rigid might fascinate someone else. I didn't find this book "boring" at…moreThat's a hard question to answer because we're all different. What bores me rigid might fascinate someone else. I didn't find this book "boring" at all. But it all depends on what you like, and you're the only person who knows that.(less)

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Eric Althoff
Dec 03, 2013 Eric Althoff rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 05, 2008 Gail rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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 ...more
Mitch Albom
Nov 18, 2015 Mitch Albom rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
George Bradford
Mar 16, 2008 George Bradford rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ireland
“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
Jul 10, 2016 Maxwell rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: i-own-it, ireland, 2016
Quite different from other memoirs I read--especially the brand of memoir that's been coming out in the last few years--Frank McCourt's Angela's Ashes tells of the author's poverty-stricken childhood in Ireland in the early 20th century. It's told from the first person present perspective, which doesn't allow for as much mature reflection, but it does create a very immediate & immersive atmosphere. And speaking of atmosphere, McCourt writes so descriptively and which such skill that you can ...more
Apr 02, 2016 Lyn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 14, 2016 Jonathan Ashleigh rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Picked this memoire to experience some more foreign countries through literature. Good choice. What could have easily been another misery porn (immense poverty, hunger, never-ending unwanted pregnancies, drunkenness, strict religion, deaths of TB and pneumonia on every other page) became something more because of the author's remarkable voice, filled with innocence, humor and almost unwavering optimism of childhood. Amazing that McCourt managed to preserve this voice well into his 60s.
Feb 22, 2016 Brina rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Read pre goodreads. I've seen it pop up on a lot of people's feeds. One of the most inspiring books I ever read.
May 29, 2007 Teresa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Adam Floridia
Jun 06, 2013 Adam Floridia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: being-a-teen
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
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 ...more
Apr 30, 2008 Melvina rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Apr 05, 2016 FeReSHte rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to FeReSHte by: Hamideh
Shelves: ireland
اجاق سرد آنجلا اتوبیوگرافی نویسنده تا سن بیست سالگی و ابتدای مهاجرتش از ایرلند به امریکا رو شامل میشه که همزمان با رکود بزرگ و جنگ جهانی دوم بوده . پدر الکلی و بیعار فرانک هرگز تلاشی برای نجات دادن خانواده ش از اون همه فلاکت ناشی از بی پولی نمی کنه .. روایت فرانک صادقانه به نظر میاد و چیزی که جلب توجه می کنه لحن طنز و بی خیال نویسنده برای بازگویی اون همه بدبختیه . برام جالب بود که انگار راوی هم با گذر زمان بزرگ می شد. زبان راوی زندگی ده سالگی فرانک به اندازه ی همین سن متفاوت از زبان راوی هجده ...more
Angela Paquin
Aug 22, 2007 Angela Paquin rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: haveread
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
Feb 06, 2008 Alicia rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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.
May 24, 2012 Mark rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: never-again
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 .
Dec 16, 2015 Madeline rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
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
Apr 22, 2008 John rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 26, 2014 Carol rated it really liked it
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.

Jan C
Feb 01, 2009 Jan C rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ireland, biography
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
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
Julie H.
Sep 04, 2008 Julie H. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
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.
Sep 14, 2014 Anastasia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 0-2011
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
Jan 15, 2009 Carolyn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 24, 2011 Elisa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 29, 2014 Lucrezia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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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)
  • 'Tis (Frank McCourt, #2)
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“You might be poor, your shoes might be broken, but your mind is a palace.” 3481 likes
“It’s lovely to know that the world can’t interfere with the inside of your head.” 384 likes
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