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5.0 out of 5 starsMy Favorite Book of All Times!!!
Reviewed in the United States on November 12, 2017
The only thing I regret is not knowing about this book when Frank MacCourt was still alive! Like whyyyy!!! This is literally MY FAVORITE BOOK OF ALL TIME! The story is heart breaking but the way it's told is HILARIOUS!!! I couldn't put the book down! I would read on the train everyday, literally laughing out loud and I'm sure people would wonder what the hell is wrong with me. I wouldn't "give a fiddler's fart!" Hahaha. His sense of humor is over the top. I laughed so bad when trying to picture what he was saying, which happened in every passage I read. I've never read a story this sad, yet very funny. Reading this book brought me so close to McCourt even though I never met him. I could relate in so many anecdotes he told even though I grew up in a totally different country. I just wish he was still alive so that I could meet him, and hug him, and tell him how much I love him. I would love to meet his bothers Malachy and Alphie. I saw that there is a museum in Ireland that depicts the story in the book. I will definitely go to Ireland and visit it. IT'S WELL WORTH THE TRAVEL. He definitely inspired me and made me change my writing style. This book is written in such a beautiful way with such a free, powerful voice. THANK YOU, FRANK MAcCOURT WHEREVER YOU ARE NOW, WHICH I'M SURE IS HEAVEN, FOR MAKING MY DAYS, MY SUBWAY RIDES, AND MY NIGHTS! THANK YOU FOR MAKING ME HAPPY WHILE READING YOU. I appreciate you and I love you! May your beautiful soul rest in peace!
5.0 out of 5 starsSorry I Didn't Read It 20 Years Ago
Reviewed in the United States on March 19, 2019
The author's flawless technique for blending the miseries of abject poverty with gritty humor is a roaring success. The dichotomy between the hugely loving and caring father and the alcohol-controlled Mr. Hyde is mind-boggling. For those afraid of facing up to this, let me tell you that his father is not violent in a physical way (but in a way that is just as cruel), and many times I wished I had the authors' father as my own. The good/bad character of the father is fascinating.
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.
I did not like anything. A true story - why would anyone want to write about this. Unpleasant - yes, a shame, yes but does everyone want to be bored bored bored my such vile behaviour. A drunken Irishman who was constantly abusing his children and getting his wife pregnant. Could not hold a job and when he did manage to hold one for a week or two spent all the money on drinking. And so it went on and on and on. I was hoping for something to change but no so I gave up. Depressing and such a shame that people have to go through such a dreadful life and definitely not something to be proud about and write about it.
McCourt's story was very well written. 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?
THIS WAS A STRANGE BOOK AND NOTHING LIKE WHAT i WAS EXPECTING FROM REVIEWS AND THE INTRODUCTION. I FOUND MOST OF IT TO BE VERY DEPRESSING. THIS WAS A TRUE DESCRIPTION OF AN ALCOHOLIC FAMILIES LIFE TO THE EXTREME. MY HEART BROKE FOR THOSE POOR BABIES WHO LITERALLY STARVED TO DEATH WHILE DAD MERRILY BOUGHT DRINKS FOR HIMSELF AND HIS FRIENDS INSTEAD OF FOOD. I'M SURPRISED ANY OF THEM SURVIVED.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on September 26, 2015
McCourt, Frank. Angela’s Ashes
In 2016 Frank McCourt’s Angela’s Ashes will be 20 years old, but it is still as fresh as it was when first published. After retiring from teaching in America McCourt began sorting his memoirs of childhood poverty in Limerick in the early Twentieth Century. The book, which he never expected to sell more than a few hundred copies took him a little over a year to complete. It won the Pulitzer Prize and a cascade of other awards. It topped bestseller charts for more than two years. Only Charles Dickens has managed to capture the general reader’s imagination like McCourt.
Told entirely from the child’s perspective, the narrative succeeds in drawing the reader into a charmed circle of listeners to a tale of poverty and survival against the odds. Frankie was given up for dead in the fever hospital, refused absolution by priests because he cannot abstain from masturbating and hence is not in a fit state to be absolved. He finds an ‘easy’ priest, but the minister falls asleep during his confession. Throughout the book, the Catholic religion controls the minds of rich amd poor alike, but the rich have other comforts; the poor simply beg and starve and mostly die young. Yet this memoir, which should have been an agonising read, remains buoyant to the end. Frankie’s father is a confirmed alcoholic and mostly absent, leaving his wife Angela to cope with an increasing number of starving infants. Frankie suffers the loss of his siblings but needs to work to keep alive the remnants of his family in a rat-infested, fleahouse that collapses in a flood. He helps unload the farmers’ carts on market days and ‘at the end of the day they’ll give me vegetables they can’t sell , anything crushed, bruised or rotten in parts.’ The boy manages to borrow books from the library, using Angela’s tickets to read about virgin martyrs ‘who always died singing hymns and giving praise not minding one bit if lions tore big chunks from their sides and gobbled them on the spot.’ But when the librarian finds him reading Lin Yütang she is horrified and dismisses him from the library for ever because of the use of one word - ‘turgid.’ ‘I know now what Mikey Molloy was talking about … that we’re no different from the dogs that get stuck into each other in the streets and it’s shocking to think of all the mothers and fathers doing the likes of this.’
Although now starved of books Frankie survives and graduates from being a telegram boy to a deliverer of newspapers and magazines and finally to writing threatening letters for Mrs Finucane, a rich old lady on her last legs who has him saying prayers for her soul. Then, Pennies from Heaven or in Frankie’s case pounds: ‘The Friday night before my nineteenth birthday Mrs Finucane sends me for the sherry. When I return she’s dead in the chair, her eyes wide open. I can’t look at her … but I take the key to the trunk upstairs. I take forty of the hundred pounds in the trunk … and I’ll add this to what I have in the post office and I have enough to go to America.’ He drinks the sherry and throws the ledger containing a record of debts owed by the poor of Limerick into the River Shannon.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on October 15, 2019
I love audio books, especially on long journeys in the car , this is a classic book which I read years ago BUT it was awful to listen to, it was so badly read I had to switch it off. It will be off to the charity shop as soon as I have time