Angelas Ashes is Frank McCourts 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 Malachys 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, Angelas Ashes is imbued on every page with Frank McCourts distinctive humour and compassion. Out of terrible circumstances, he has created a glorious book in the tradition of Irelands literary masters, which bears all the marks of a great classic.
Francis "Frank" McCourt (19 August 1930 - 19 July 2009) was an American-Irish teacher and Pulitzer Prize-winning author, best known as the author of AngelaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Ashes. His brothers Malachy McCourt and Alphie McCourt are also autobiographical writers. In the mid-1980s Francis and Malachy created the stage play A Couple of Blaguards, a two-man show about their lives and experiences.
Despite impoverishing his family because of his alcoholism, McCourts father passed on to his son a gift for superb storytelling. He told him about the great Irish heroes, the old days in Ireland, the people in their Limerick neighborhood, and the world beyond their shores. McCourt writes in the voice of the child?with no self-pity or review of events?and just retells the tales. He recounts his desperately poor early years, living on public assistance and losing three siblings, but manages to make the book funny and uplifting. Stories of trying on his parents false teeth and his adventures as a post-office delivery boy will have readers laughing out loud. Young people will recognize the truth in these compelling tales; the emotions expressed; the descriptions of teachers, relatives, neighbors; and the casual cruelty adults show toward children. Readers will enjoy the humor and the music in the language. A vivid, wonderfully readable memoir.?Patricia Noonan, Prince William Public Library, VA
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.
- School Library Journal
McCourt is the eldest of eight children born to Angela Sheehan and Malachy McCourt in the 1920s. The McCourts began their family in poverty in Brooklyn, yet when Angela slipped into depression after the death of her only daughter (four of eight children survived), the family reversed the tide of emigration and returned to Ireland, living on public assistance in Limerick. McCourts story is laced with the pain of extreme poverty, aggravated by an alcoholic father who abandoned the family during World War II. Given the burdens of grief and starvation, its a tribute to his skill that he can serve the reader a tale of love, some sadness, but at least as much laughter as the McCourts "Yankee" children knew growing up in the streets of Limerick
- Library Journal
"Worse than the ordinary miserable childhood is the miserable Irish childhood," writes Frank McCourt in Angelas 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 werent 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 cliches 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 McCourts able hands it also has all the makings for a compelling memoir.