Reader reviews for Angela's Ashes: A Memoir

This is a very good and interesting book. You find yourself laughing at his stories then you realize just what a horrible, impoverished childhood he had. A marvelous story teller that gives you great insight into the life of an Irish family.
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A nonfiction work that goes down as smoothly as any novel. This is another book I've read at least 15 times, although it is in better condition than Up in the Old Hotel. McCourt's Irish humor makes the reader want to visit Limerick and meet the locals, despite the poverty and the rainy weather. A must read.
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I've spent the last week in Limerick, Ireland, in the pages of Angela's Ashes. Some parts of the book brought tears to my eyes as the author described the hunger, the lack of clothing and fuel in the winter, the disease, and the unsanitary living conditions he and too many others endured. Occasionally the tears became laughter, as when young Frankie narrates the events of his first communion day. Less skilled writers might succumb to expressions of bitterness or self-pity, but McCourt wisely avoids these temptations. His voice throughout is that of the child he was, not that of the adult he is now. It engages the reader in a way that a psychoanalytical account could not.
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This is a wonderful book, it's very touching, inspirational, and a really good read. Any Jeopardy fan may notice that they often use this book as one of those clue things, so if its good enough for Jeopardy, its good enough for me. This book gives insight into the life of Frank McCourt and what the conditions were like for him and other families. Even if you are not interested in reading one of those touching "my life story" sad type books, its a really good read.
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A beautifully written memoir of childhood poverty in 1920s/30s Ireland (Limerick). It is well summarised in its opening:"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." Frank McCourt's account of his deprived childhood manages to maintain humour, whilst not losing the pathos in the more tragic events in his childhood (including the loss of siblings and the absence of a feckless father).Although there has been some controversy regarding the veracity of these memoirs, I feel sure it is an accurate reflexion of the sort of conditions many experienced in Ireland in the early part of the 20th century. The brutality of the Catholic church (as well as some more compassionate moments), also rings true.Frank McCourt is very much a story-teller, and the book is very readable.
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Beautiful and heartbreaking.
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A moving story of life in the poverty of post-Depression and WWII Ireland. The rich dialog provides a wonderful insight into the inner workings of the characters, the complex relationships between characters, and the flavor of the times.I read this book with savings of less than 2 (possibly 1) living expenses. I continued for the "there's always someone worse off" effect, and even found that folks who regularly went to bed hungry (I never have) with absolutely no cash to their name (a place I've not yet been) can still feel that feeling. But I came away knowning that as tight as my finances are right now, I'm doing great. I'm grateful.There's a huge bit of hope theroughout the book, what with my knowing that he made it out OK. I'd suggest not reading too much hope into the dialog. I found that when I was just trying to be present with his current status that the book had a much more profound impact. Frank is not writing a "feel goo, hope conquers all" book. For me to read it that way missed a point. When I really dug down to think about what it must feel like to go to bed tired, hungry, wet, cold, flea-infested, in a family with no income, with a father whos occasional wages were all spent at the bar, I transcend my veiw of the world and enter his. That's a powerful place to get to.To his credit, Frank neither wrote too gloomy nor too hopeful. It was just what it was. That he could make it entertaining is a huge credit, and no doubt why it won a Pulitzer Prize.
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I loved this book when I read it nine years ago. The way McCourt captured the Irish brogue in print was wonderful. Although many Irish-American friends said the overall story was too sad and depressing, I thought it was ultimately a tale of the triumph of the human spirit. McCourt is irreverently funny at times and a very gifted storyteller.
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These are the acknowledgements:"This is a small hymn to an exultation of women. (he goes on to list a whole bunch of women: relatives, editors, friends, supporters.) I am blessed among men."I read this and considered the title (Angela is his mother). I knew that the book was a memoir. I thought that perhaps his mother would be a pillar of extraordinary strength or maybe a ray of sunshine in a sky full of smog or something like that.I had a hard time admiring or even liking his mother. She, like many women of the time, wound up in a hard marriage with a man who couldn't keep a job and drank away the dole (welfare-ish) and giving birth to seven children. Her children keep becoming dreadfully ill and she doesnt' do anything about it until the situation becomes desperate. Eventually she does call the doctor, but it's usually too late. I'm not sure if I would have felt more sympathy or empathy if she hadn't called the doctor at all - financial strain being such a burden that they literally could not call a doctor - but she did: it just was long after she should have.Losing children is something that I can't personally imagine. I found myself unable to imagine what Angela must have gone through - but she didn't perseveare, she didn't pull herself up by her bootstraps, she didn't chin-up, she didn't take care of the children she had left. They ran wild and Frank, the oldest, had to steal food for his siblings.It wasn't just Angela that I had problems with. Frank's aunts and his grandmother weren't in the least bit supportive, enlightening, or sympathetic. I couldn't think of a single woman in the book that I truly liked - except for the girl in the hospital who recited poetry. Even the librarian pissed me off. It looked like she would be awesome, but eventually her true colors came out.I should also point out that, for the most part, the men didn't win any medals for valor, either. Every once in a while a very minor character would show some redeeming qualitites that I felt actually helped Frank instead of hurting him - Mr. Hannon, Mr. Timoney, the Franciscan brother who helped him deal with his guilt. But they were far between and usually were phased out of his life by circumstance.I don't know. I did enjoy the book - it perfectly evoked a hard, bitter time survived by hard, bitter people. I might have expected too much from the women in the book - but the acknowedgements really threw me and set me up for something entirely different.
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Amazingly touching and funny book. McCourt's stream of consciousness writing style takes a little getting used to, but he has the ability to make you cry at his descriptions of a desperate situation one second, then you find yourself laughing through your tears in the next paragraph.
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