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Publisher's Summary

Pulitzer Prize, Biography/Autobiography, 1997

National Book Critics Circle, Biography/Autobiography, 1997

Frank McCourt's Pulitzer Prize-winning memoir, movingly read in his own voice, bears all the marks of a classic. Born in Depression-era Brooklyn to Irish immigrant parents, Frank was later raised in the slums of Limerick, Ireland. His mother, Angela, had no money to feed her children since Frank's father, Malachy, rarely worked, and when he did, he drank his wages. Angela's Ashes is the story of how Frank endured - wearing shoes repaired with tires, begging for a pig's head for Christmas dinner, and searching the pubs for his father - a tale he relates with eloquence, exuberance, and remarkable forgiveness.

Listen to Frank McCourt talk about this book on C-SPAN's Booknotes (7/11/97).

©1997 Frank McCourt, All Rights Reserved; (P)1997 Simon & Schuster Inc., All Rights Reserved, Audioworks is an Imprint of Simon & Schuster Audio Division Simon & Schuster Inc.

Critic Reviews

"Frank McCourt is a marvelous writer whose words are made all the better when he reads them aloud..." (Bookpage)
" of the best I've heard in years." (The Boston Globe)
" good it deserves a sequel" (The New York Times)

"Here we have the stereotypical Irish characters - the drunken poet father; the all-suffering mother; the miserable, hungry kids being turned away by a haughty Church - all made three-dimensional and brought fully to life by both McCourt's language and his loving, intimate narration.... Grim it is - but the tale and its teller transcend the poverty - and so does the listener, who glories in the story and voice from beginning to end." (AudioFile)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings


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  • Overall
  • Marian
  • North Bonneville, WA, United States
  • 10-13-10


I've read "Angela's Ashes" many times, in a hard-copy version and as an audiobook. It's one of my favorites of all time. And who could read it better than its author, Frank McCourt. I remember that the first time I read it, I thought to myself, "I'm not going to read any more if one more baby dies." Luckily for me, none more did.

The depth of the tragic events of McCourt's family is intense. It would be unbearable, if it weren't for McCourt's ability to find humor in any relationship or circumstance. Not many books have made me laugh out loud. This is one of them.

In fact, the balance between despair and humor is an essential element of the greatness of "Angela's Ashes." This is a book that I know I'll return to again and again and always find satisfying.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Barna
  • Elkridge, MD, United States
  • 09-23-08


I avoided this book when it won all of its awards because I was somewhat aware of the contents and it just seemed depressing to me. I read Teacher Man and 'Tis by the author and then a book club friend told me this was in audio and read by the author, which I consider a real plus. This is an incredible story of a family in Ireland, abandoned by the father, and their story of survival. McCourt's memory of his childhood is riveting. You will love this book

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Debbie
  • Austin, TX, United States
  • 06-08-06

Great story teller!

I loved hearing Frank McCourt read this book. I also bought 'Tis and Teacher Man. I listened to all three in a row and just ordered the DVD about the McCourt brothers in America. More often, a book bores me after twenty minutes. Less often, it holds my attention. All his books held my attention.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

A story of despair and truimph

This book is one of the best I've read in years. However, one must be prepared for the painful story the author tells about his life. I know I felt very lucky for my childhood when compared to Frank McCourt's.

However, the shining star of the book is Frank himself. He overcame the odds and wrote a wonderful narrative to a story of adversity, sorrow, and ultimately triumph.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

A Great Audiobook!

The book was good, the audiobook is great! The book is read by the author -- which always makes books better, but with the Irish brogue from the author, it makes it a GEM. This is my all-time favorite audiobook, and I'm not even Irish. It's a great story, a great piece of history, a great autobiography, a great audio story.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Best author-read book!

Excellent book, read by author in a wonderful Irish accent!

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Couldn't finish it

This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

I expected to like this book, since it was a Pulitzer Prize winner, and it was fine, but after awhile it just got repetitious. Both the story -- sad, poverty-infused anecdote after sad, poverty-infused anecdote -- and the sometimes sing-song narration of the author became just more and more of the same.

I did appreciate the wonderful Irish humor that buoyed the narrative, keeping it just above the surface of total despair. As an American descended from Irish immigrants, I found myself thinking about my deceased mother, who undoubtedly would have loved the book, and imagining the lives of my Irish ancestors.

Has Angela's Ashes turned you off from other books in this genre?

No, I generally enjoy memoirs.

How did the narrator detract from the book?

As the author, he both added and detracted from the book. Since it's a memoir, he lent an authenticity to the story that would have been absent had the book been read by someone else. It was enjoyable to hear his Irish accent ... and yet at times, his delivery became somewhat repetitious (same tone and pitch). In those instances, I think an actor would have done a better job.

10 of 12 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Kim
  • Spokane, WA, United States
  • 03-27-13

Pulitzer Prize winner - totally justified!

It's so wonderful to find myself agreeing with the masses and loving something that the "powers that be" found worthy of such a lofty honor as a Pulitzer Prize. So many times I've taken the bait of an "award winner" only to be bitterly disappointed in the end. There's something about the old-fashioned, whimsical yet heartbreaking truths in this memoir that really touched me in a way that few books ever have. I laughed, almost cried (that would take a miracle), and just lost myself in the world of the U.S. and Ireland in the early 20th century. The tragedy, the hardships, the triumphs are expressed in a way that made me truly care about the people - that rarely happens for me and I really love when a book can take me there. There are so many things to appreciate about this book - you just need to use your credit on it and see for yourself.

17 of 21 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Gross, Slow, and Tragic

This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

I'm unsure. I didn't particularly care for this book. The first half is really boring, and if I had read this instead of listening to it, I might not have stuck with it. However, I was interested enough to listen to the sequels.

What do you think your next listen will be?

I've already listened to the follow-ups "'Tis" and "Teacher Man" is what I'm listening to right now. They are both by and narrated by Frank McCourt.

What does Frank McCourt bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

His story is narrated in his own words with his wonderful accent. It's told in a thoughtful way. The biggest thing that is a unique experience is the singing. In books when the lyrics are in the book, it's always awkward to read it without knowing the tune. Listening to the book give the reader an opportunity to hear the songs.

What character would you cut from Angela's Ashes?

There is no main character I would cut. Maybe a few of the side characters that add nothing but pages and minutes to the story.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Josh
  • Taylorsville, UT, USA
  • 08-21-06


I selected this book because I thought I was going to be moved by human courage and strength to overcome great odds. This book had great potential to move the reader, however about half way through and clear up until the end, the book shifted and the author got caught up in the "excitement" of "wanking" (i.e., masturbation). This felt like such a disservice to the reader.

9 of 11 people found this review helpful