Angela's Ashes: A Memoir of a Childhood

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9780002254434: Angela's Ashes: A Memoir of a Childhood

McCourt’s Pulitzer Prize winning look back at his childhood. “It was, of course, a miserable childhood: the happy childhood is hardly worth your while…”

Angela’s Ashes is Frank McCourt’s sad, funny, bittersweet memoir of growing up in New York in the 30s and in Ireland in the 40s. It is a story of extreme hardship and suffering, in Brooklyn tenements and Limerick slums – too many children, too little money, his mother Angela barely coping as his father Malachy’s drinking bouts constantly brought the family to the brink of disaster. It is a story of courage and survival against apparently overwhelming odds.

Written with the vitality and resonance of a work of fiction, and a remarkable absence of sentimentality, Angela’s Ashes is imbued on every page with Frank McCourt’s distinctive humour and compassion. Out of terrible circumstances, he has created a glorious book in the tradition of Ireland’s literary masters, which bears all the marks of a great classic.

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Review:

"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 clichés 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 of a compelling memoir.

Review:

‘An astonishing book…completely mesmerising – you can open it almost at random and find writing to make you gasp.’ Independent

‘The most remarkable thing about Frank McCourt, apart from his survival, is his lack of sorrowfulness. “Angela’s Ashes” sings with irreverent Limerick wit. It makes you smile at the triumph of the storyteller, a tougher specimen who escaped Limerick’s teeming alleys through intelligence and cunning and lived to tell the tale.’ The Times

‘Once opened, this brilliant and seductive book will not let you rest until Frank emerges, more or less reared, at the close of boyhood.’ Thomas Keneally, author of ‘Schindler's List.’

‘Frank McCourt's lyrical Irish voice will draw comparison to Joyce. It's that seductive, that hilarious. In the annals of memoir, his name will be writ large.’ Mary Karr, author of ‘The Liar's Club’.

‘I was moved and dazzled by the sombre and lively beauty of this book; it is a story of survival and growth beyond all odds; a chronicle of surprising triumphs, written in language that is always itself triumphant.’ Mary Gordon, author of ‘The Shadow Man.’

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