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It's a Long Way from Penny Apples

3.78  ·  Rating Details ·  279 Ratings  ·  34 Reviews
Tis better to be born lucky than rich....

There are many ways to confront tragedy and hard times. Angela's Ashes, Frank McCourt's tragic--and ultimately uplifting--tale of how one man overcame adversity and found happiness in the New World is a compelling story that has touched thousands of readers.

It's a Long Way from Penny Apples is another view of the Irish experience, a
ebook, 384 pages
Published February 1st 2004 by Forge Books (first published November 30th 2001)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Janet Gray
Mar 30, 2009 Janet Gray rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
From selling apples on the streets of Dublin in the 1950's to owning a company with a turnover of 250 million pounds, Bill Cullen tells his story and the story of the indomitable woman who made him the man he is today. Wonderful reading and very inspiring.
Andrew Rao
Jan 06, 2013 Andrew Rao rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
After reading Bill Cullen's life story, I realized how fortunate I am to be healthy and have the family I do. Growing up into incredible poverty as a child, Cullen's parents worked tedious hours to put food on the table each night, living in the slums of Dublin, Ireland. After witnessing their struggles and relationship deteriorate, Bill knew it was time to provide as much as he could for his family. Through determination and hard work, Cullen began selling newspapers, apples, and flowers on the ...more
Msa Faleni
Bill's account of life in Ireland is a lighter account compared to Frank McCourt's Angela's Ashes.
May 25, 2013 Deb rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The very first thing about this book is the quote on the front cover:
"Penny Apples is a book I just couldn't put down! Finally we get to read a story of inspiration to counterbalance the exquisite pain in Angela's Ashes. I cheered the courage and spirit that flowed from these recollections." ~ Dr. Denis Waitley
I'm very sorry that Dr. Denis Waitley felt this was the way to praise the book in hand. It immediately rubbed me the wrong way. Angela's Ashes deserves the acclaim it has received, it is a
This is the story of the well-known and successful Irish businessman, Bill Cullen. As a child and young adult Cullen lived in the tough inner-city area of Summerhill in Dublin. This area is very close to where my mother-in-law, Lena, grew up.

According to the Irish times "this book celebrates the dirt-poor, the stinking, toilet-in-the-yard, fresh-water-from-the-bucket, recycled tea leaves, coddle-on-the-fire, bacon-lard-on-stale-bread world from where people such as Bill Cullen came. Recycled ne
Nov 29, 2015 Helene rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The story of the Cullen family is the ultimate example of ubuntu in the inner-city Dublin of the forties and fifties. Ubuntu is a Southern African concept which, in it's simplest form, means 'human kindness' based on the principle of 'I am because we are'. We are not merely individuals, but we create each other and must therefore sustain each other. I can ask you for a cup of sugar, because next week you will need tea, which I will give, even if it's me last leaves.

The story follows Bill (Liam)
Aug 03, 2011 Coralie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was an excellent book about a man who grew up poor in Dublin, Ireland and became a hugely successful automobile dealer as an adult. This book has been compared to "Angela's Ashes", but Bill Cullen has a different story. The big difference between his family and Frank McCourt's - Bill's father was a complete non-drinker and never even allowed alcohol in the house. Although there were nine children in the family, everyone worked and supported each other. The kids may not have had much, but th ...more
Feb 19, 2012 Denise rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Rereading! I started reading this 4 yrs ago while I was taking care of my mama (I love you so!) and then, not knowing I was in the middle of it, she gave the book away! I watched it walk out the door, desperate because I was dying to finish it but alas, it was gone. I was enjoying the story so much, anticipating the conclusion with great expectation.. and now I can do so!
I can't believe I've got it in my hands again! *big-grin* I inquired about it at the library a few weeks ago and the libraria
Nov 26, 2008 Rick rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Bill Cullen's story was very interesting. He compares the book to Angela's Ashes but his story is different in that his family was very resourceful and much less selfish. Bill Cullen learned how to sell and market his grandmother's apples and other wares at a young age and it led him to becoming an auto mogul in Ireland in later life. He writes in third person which is often kind of weird knowing he wrote the book. It's a quick read; his family lived in difficult times always bettering their liv ...more
Dec 10, 2012 Lisa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-club

This was an excellent book, about the life of successful businessman Bill Cullen. I enjoyed that it was written in third person, and he had some very entertaining, insightful and at times poignant stories of growing up in inner city Dublin in the mid 1900s. To have come from so little and build such a successful life took a lot of hard work and dedication, and after reading this book I have discovered a lot more about him and have great respect for him. Not a book I would have chosen for myself
Jul 09, 2014 Kerry rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was described as the opposite to Angela's Ashes, we of course all know the famous opening lines to this story "Worse than the ordinary miserable childhood is the miserable Irish childhood, and worse yet is the miserable Irish Catholic childhood." I think Bill wanted to highlight that the Irish childhood was not all that bad and bring to life some vivid strong characters.
He did and the first three quarters of the book I really enjoyed however the last quarter got a bit big headed I fel
Leonid Bronfentrinker
Overall this was an entertaining read however I felt it was quite slow for about 3/4 of the book and then way too fast and very light on detail for the last 1/4 of the book when Cullen skips from decade to decade. I would have liked to have read more about Cullen's days in the business world as that is where I found this book most interesting. Not knowing Cullen's story or that of war torn Ireland made this book an eye opener.
Oct 06, 2016 Wendy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A facinating history of Dublin life through the eyes of one man and his family. A story of loyalty, hard work and kicking against the traces. I can't say I enjoyed it as it is not that kind of book but I found it very interesting and learned a lot about the history of the age.
I expect anyone with Irish heritage would love this book especially of they are from Dublin.
Aug 13, 2012 Gavin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this book and I think it gives a good insight into ups and downs of Irish history as well as giving you good tips on running a business. Each chapter gives you individual acounts of thing that he learned form his Grandmother (Mother Darcy)and other people in his life, some of the storys are really funny and it is hard to believe that they are true.
Apr 02, 2013 Patti rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Inspiring, funny and true heartening story of Bill Bullen, who rose from selling penny apples and anything else he could lay his hands on in his impoverished youth to head the largest car franchise in Ireland. Lessons of entrepreneurship, salesmanship, perseverance, positivity and love of family, homeland and Savior.
Angela's Ashes meets Art of the deal.

What's very Irish or Catholic is 95/100 is about how great his mother and grandmother are. In his real life, there's very little mention of is his first wife or his current (ex-model) wife.

Sep 15, 2011 Rose rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very good read about Ireland.
Aimée Reisert
Aug 18, 2011 Aimée Reisert rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I got about 100pages into it and it just wasn't very interesting so I abandoned it. Life is too short and too many books on my to-read list!
Irish history and a book which inspires determination
Oct 26, 2010 Risht rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Reminded me of the Dublin I once knew and loved; and which, sadly, is now consigned to memory. Bravo, Bill. Bravo.
Jul 14, 2011 Anne rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended by Irish tour guide. Purchased at The Killarney Bookshop.
Jul 28, 2014 Patty rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: abandoned
When it was described as the opposite of Angela's Ashes, I didn't know that meant deadly dull. I give up.
Feb 08, 2011 Mary is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
so far, so good :)
Jen Wong
it's sort of an autobiography and a bit annoying in places but readable non the less
Jan 18, 2008 Naomiroche rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
an essential read for the Irish of any generation
Sarah Rowland
What an inspiring and uplifting book! Makes you really appreciate what determination and hard graft can achieve.
Dec 16, 2008 Mairin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Read this when it first came out and he came to Georgetown. I really liked the memoir of his growing up from nothing to be a very successful man. Plus he was really nice!
Jan 05, 2016 Estelle marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
I registered a book at!
Jul 10, 2016 Carole rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Witty, giving a good reflection of times past in Dublin city. You won't be on the edge of your seat but an interesting read nonetheless.
Mhartain O'Treasaigh
Last few chapters of it,reminded me of the time I was growing up in Dublin.
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