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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)
"...one of the best I've heard in years." (The Boston Globe)
"...so 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
  • Performance
  • Story

Fantastic!

Would you listen to Angela's Ashes again? Why?

Yes and as soon as I finished the book I started it again.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Frank McCort - he brings his story to life. The description of his childhood and the struggles his family endoured. He learned from his father and achieved his goal.

What about Frank McCourt’s performance did you like?

again - Frank McCort - he brings his story to life.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

I cried and laughed many times through out the book.

Any additional comments?

Fantastic book. I am so happy I read it.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Without question the best memoir ever

I have never read a more amazing memoir. McCourt can rip your heart out in one paragraph and make you laugh out loud in the next. This heartbreaking story of poverty in America, then Ireland opens readers' eyes to how a young, innocent boy perceives his piteous life of hunger, prejudice, and loss as perfectly normal. The family struggles to survive, but the loving father's alcoholism and eventual desertion reduces the mother to humiliation and begging and the children to shame and theft. Siblings die; siblings survive. Harsh, judgmental relatives refuse to help. Frank and his brothers make their way in a skewed world where Catholicism causes more guilt and misery than offers comfort.

So where's the humor? you may ask. Everywhere in their world where the abnormal is normal.

I cannot recommend this book highly enough. That the author narrates the story of his own life makes it all the more touching.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Jodie
  • Middletown, NY, United States
  • 04-01-14

I almost returned this book...

When I first started listening to this book, I really didn't like it. I had a very hard time following the accent of the narrator. I went to return it and then reread all the reviews, realizing that I needed to give it more time. Like watching a Shakespeare play, the language grows on you and you can follow it easier as you get used to it.

I had a range of emotions while reading this book. I have ancestors who immigrated from Ireland to America and I had to rethink everything I thought I knew about them. I had assumed they came from the vibrant green and cozy Ireland where everyone was spectacularly nice and neighborly. After reading Frank McCourt's autobiography, I realize that my thinking was probably inaccurate. I never realized how stern the Irish were and how miserable and poor so many were. I had heard the stories of the drinking but assumed it was a stereotype; I never realized the damage it did to families. I also didn't understand the impact of the Catholic church on the Irish people and how the families seemed to be motivated by guilt from the church.

This book can be amusing at times, but for the most part it is very serious and very sobering. It was a learning experience for me and I highly recommend that everyone who is interested in the roots of the people who helped build America, read this book.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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One of the best audiobooks you'll find

As I said for the second volume of Frank McCourt's memoir, 'Tis, this book is incredibly moving, blatantly honest, and delightful to the last drop. Not only do you get the joy of hearing an author read his own book, but this particular author has the gift of the voice as well as of the pen, and adds even more emotion to his narration.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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an amazing life read by the man who lived it!

What made the experience of listening to Angela's Ashes the most enjoyable?

First, with Frank McCourt reading his memoir, there is an added air of authenticity to his memories and stories. Second, the way he creates the local denizens of his neighborhoods into excellent characters by interacting with them and not over-describing them is refreshing. It is their relationship with "Frankie" that brings the others in this first-person narrative alive, not just his descriptions of them. Finally, his ability to express his internal thoughts, feelings, angst, and frequent consternation is wonderful and developmentally appropriate for the different ages he traverses. When he is five he sounds like he is five; when he is 15 he sounds like he is 15.

Who was your favorite character and why?

My favorite character is Frankie because he is a lad who had no breaks and continues to plod along and succeed.

What about Frank McCourt’s performance did you like?

First, I love his accent. Second, his cadence and intonation provide excellent pacing for the story. Finally, his tone of voice was able to impart wit, humor, irritation, frustration, and irony I am not sure would have been as clearly evident with the written word alone.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

When his young sister dies in New York... very sad.

Any additional comments?

I have enjoyed this work so much I have listened to it several times.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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sounds sad but the reader didnt make it so

What made the experience of listening to Angela's Ashes the most enjoyable?

the reader did an excellent job. i wouldve taken it as a sad story but somehow he made it fun and very interesting

What did you like best about this story?

the versions of current words that were used. i had to look up terms on the internet

What about Frank McCourt’s performance did you like?

the dialect help depict the story

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

i wouldnt have minded

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Carin
  • CHARLOTTE, NC, United States
  • 11-17-11

McCourt's narration makes this book brilliant!

When this book first came out in hardcover, it was recommended to me very strongly by someone whose opinion I trusted. I read the first 20 pages, and got so depressed I wanted to kill myself! I put it down and swore never to read it. Even when my best friend forced a copy of it on me 10 years ago. But several years ago, I listened to Teacher Man on audio, and it was great. So I thought that might be the solution for me with Angela's Ashes. Teacher Man was so funny - and I could tell that a large part of that was the way Frank McCourt read the book. He has a terrific voice for these, really expressive and emphatic.

I am so glad I finally listened to this! I just downloaded the audio of 'Tis, so finish off the trilogy. Frank's story is very sad, but with the audio version, I could see the humor in his tale. The pathos of growing up terribly, terribly poor mostly in Ireland, would be too much to take without the humor. Frank starts off his story by saying that his parents should have stayed in New York, and not gone back to Ireland, however I think they would have been just as bad off in New York, if not worse because there they wouldn't have had even the meager amount of familial assistance that they got, mostly from Angela's family. I must say I was actually pretty impressed with Frank's father, aside from the drinking. Now, if you take away the drinking here's very little left, but in those times he was great. He was never abusive, always supportive and caring. But in the end, he was the reason for the family's downfall.

But what makes the book is Mr. McCourt's writing. There are thousands of memoirs, but this is the pinnacle of the genre, and it's not because anything particularly unique or interesting happens. It's because Mr. McCourt is a fantastic writer. He really conveys the feeling of living in these hovels in Limerick, but without bogging down the story with a lot of details. At the same time, he has remembered a huge amount of details from when he was a very young child. The story is at times tragic, mostly horrible, and occasionally interspersed with moments of light and hope. I loved it, and listened to it every chance I got. I am really looking forward to 'Tis, even knowing how things work out since I read the last book first! I am so glad I didn't give up on this book, and instead found a way to read it that worked for me.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Kenneth
  • Sierra Vista, AZ, United States
  • 09-27-10

very engaging

Excellent book. Wanted it to continue.
So much detail. I think it ranks as the best audio book I have heard so far.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Lila
  • Northport, AL, United States
  • 08-09-10

Supreme

Be prepared to laugh and cry. Here is the gold standard for the memoir. I don't care what anybody says about the dialogue--that Frank McCourt couldn't possibly have remembered who said what fifty years in the past. So what. The reader (or listener) understands that he has dramatized scenes to make them more vivid, which doesn't make the story ring any less true. He is relating the spirit of what occurred.
As a narrator, McCourt shines. I doubt anyone could've read his memoir with the same energy he brings to it. The Irish flavor comes through beautifully, including in the occasional song, and especially in his characterizations. What they add to the audiobook makes it even better than the print version. I recommend it highly.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Laura
  • Interlochen, MI, United States
  • 07-28-10

My Favorite!

This is my absolute favorite audiobook of all time. I have listened to it many times and enjoy it every time. I reccomend this to anyone who wants to step into the world of audio listening. I also enjoy Tis' and Teacher Man, but this one is my favorite by far.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful