- Series: The Frank McCourt Memoirs
- Hardcover: 364 pages
- Publisher: Scribner (September 5, 1996)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0684874350
- ISBN-13: 978-0684874357
- Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 2,134 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #29,170 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Angela's Ashes (The Frank McCourt Memoirs) Hardcover – September 5, 1996
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"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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1. “As a child, I thought a balanced diet was bread and tea, a solid and a liquid.” Frank McCourt
2. Frank McCourt had beautiful handwriting—a “fine fist” as they said in the old country—and he wrote Angela’s Ashes in longhand.
3. I had heard the term Soupers but never knew what it meant: “We had the soupers in the Famine. The Protestants went round telling good Catholics that if they gave up their faith and turned Protestant they’d get more soup than their bellies could hold and, God help us, some Catholics took the soup, and were ever after known as soupers.”
4. All this time, I’ve been saying Jesus, Mary, and Joseph! Evidently, I’ve been saying it wrong. Per the book, it’s...Jesus, Mary and Holy St. Joseph!
5. Frank’s Mom had a decent sense of humor. Irish Catholic wives were supposed to have children relentlessly. This was her reply after her last baby, Alphie (child #10!): “Mam says, Alphie is enough. I’m worn out. That’s the end of it. No more children. Dad says, The good Catholic woman must perform her wifely duties and submit to her husband or face eternal damnation. Mam says, As long as there are no more children eternal damnation sounds attractive enough to me.”
6.) On your 16th birthday in Ireland, it was tradition to have Your Father take you to the local pub for your first pint Of Guinness (boys only of course)...
7.) The funniest story in the book was when the family was literally cutting the wood walls of their home to use as firewood and were running out!: “Mam says, One more board from that wall, one more and not another one. She says that for two weeks till there’s nothing left but the beam frame. She warns us we are not to touch the beams for they hold up the ceiling and the house itself. Oh, we’d never touch the beams. She goes to see Grandma and it’s so cold in the house I take the hatchet to one of the beams. Malachy cheers me on and Michael claps his hands with excitement. I pull on the beam, the ceiling groans and down on Mam’s bed there’s a shower of plaster, slates, rain. Malachy says, Oh, God, we’ll all be killed, and Michael dances around singing, Frankie broke the house, Frankie broke the house!”
8.) I had never heard the term American Wake but this makes perfect sense: “Mam says we’ll have to have a bit of party the night before I go to America. They used to have parties in the old days when anyone would go to America, which was so far away the parties were called American wakes because the family never expected to see the departing one again in this life.”
Nevertheless, I found something hilarious on nearly every page; a striking achievement for this kind of work. You would not likely get through such a book without a generous helping of humor. There were only a couple of instances where I felt the author stretched the truth. On the whole, I believe it was 99% of what he said it was.
For people who feel their own childhood was not all it could have cracked up to be, I heartily recommend this book. It might make you feel lucky, and may relieve some of your agony over your own upbringing. Not many people growing up in the western world in the last 70 years have likely had such a miserable childhood as the author.
The setting was Ireland and he brought the flavor
of the Emerald Isle along with all its greenery to a bigger than life status!
So much of the book was depressing yet he intermingled comedic parts throughout to keep it balanced and exciting!
The reader was shown the perils of poverty and all its brutal effects on a family: the father, mother, children and relatives.
In most cases it brought out the worst of people but some characters showed strength and resilience beyond imagination!
The ending provided no resolutions and left you with a grave feeling of despair and uncertainty!
It was a sad tale of woe which makes one wonder if any of us could ever endure what Frank and his family did and live to actually write about it?