Monday, January 24, 2011

Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt

Angela's AshesAngela's Ashes by Frank McCourt

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book made me count my blessings. I have Irish ancestors and actually traveled to Ireland the summer before last. The monuments and historical places depicting the Famine were all over. Frank McCourt didn't live during the Famine, but his childhood was pretty bad. They lived on fried bread and tea. They were lucky to have shoes -- some children didn't -- and they only had the clothes on their backs which were not much to speak of. His mother had to stand in line for vouchers for food and on at least one occasion actually begged for food from the priests. Frank was very bright though. He learned to read and write and it served him well when he was trying to make some money. The religious in Limerick didn't do him any favors though. His father taught him all the prayers of the Mass in Latin and just what to do to be an altar boy, but they "didn't have room for him". Another time he wanted to join the White Fathers and go to the Sahara desert and convert the Bedouins and they told him to go home to his mother. It could have been a sad story, but it wasn't a "tug at your heartstrings" kind of story. It was sad that they were so poor, but they lived through it. Frank found many ways to get food and make himself useful so he could earn a shilling or two. He also went through all the things that normal 13-14 year-old boys go through... In the end, he saved and saved his money and made it to America. He was a good boy even though he stole and did things he shouldn't have. I enjoyed this book and it made me wonder what my ancestors had to go through when they lived in Ireland. Frank has another book simply entitled 'Tis. It must be about his life in America because "Angela's Ashes" ends with the word 'Tis.

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  1. Angela's Ashes has always been on the forefront of my "to read" list, shame for me for not having read it yet.

  2. This is one of my favorite books. Yes, it's heartbreaking, but I loved the authors writing and his young self's perspective. I did not like 'Tis as much though. He comes through again with Teacher Man, which was also very good.

  3. Thanks for the comments and thanks, Trish, for the tip about Teacher Man. I liked McCourt's style, too. I'll have to check it out.