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Wednesday, February 9, 2011

AUDIOBOOK REVIEW: Angela's Ashes - A Memoir

TITLE: Angela's Ashes
AUTHOR: Frank McCourt
NARRATOR: Frank McCourt
PUBLISHER: Simon & Shuster Audio
DATE OF PUBLICATION: November 15, 2005
FORMAT: Unabridged WMA Audiobook (14 hours, 55 minutes)
GENRE: Biography & Autobiography, Nonfiction


"When I look back on my childhood I wonder how I managed to survive at all. It was, of course, a miserable childhood: the happy childhood is hardly worth your while. Worse than the ordinary miserable childhood is the miserable Irish childhood, and worse yet is the miserable Irish Catholic childhood."

So begins the luminous memoir of Frank McCourt, born in Depression-era Brooklyn to recent Irish immigrants and raised in the slums of Limerick, Ireland. Frank's mother, Angela, has no money to feed the children since Frank's father, Malachy, rarely works, and when he does he drinks his wages. Yet Malachy does nurture in Frank an appetite for the one thing he can provide: a story.

Perhaps it is a story that accounts for Frank's survival. Wearing rags for diapers, begging a pig's head for Christmas dinner, and searching the pubs for his father, Frank endures poverty, near-starvation and the casual cruelty of relatives and neighbors yet lives to tell his tale with eloquence, exuberance and remarkable forgiveness.

Imbued with Frank McCourt's astounding humor and compassion — and movingly read in his own voice — Angela's Ashes is a glorious audiobook that bears all the marks of a classic. 


I have wanted to read this book for a long time. It won the 1997 Pulitzer Prize for Biography & Autobiography.

The first hour was torturously boring. Sadly, the book became more interesting as the tragedies started occurring.

As a mom, I cannot fathom how Angela was able to get through the heartaches she had to endure. As a parent, I am equally appalled at how selfish Frank’s father was - how he could let his children go without because of his own selfish desires.

It was particularly poignant to hear the story narrated by the author. I felt as though he was in the room, sitting beside me, tell me his story.

I was not satisfied with the ending…I want to know what happens next! Frank had to beg, borrow, and steal to get to America; how did his behaviour change (or not) after he got there? Did he send money back to help out his mother and brothers? Did they stay in Ireland or come to America as well? Whatever happened to his father?

I realize now that there is a sequel called ‘Tis, which I feel compelled to read. I watched the movie after reading the book, and I thought it was very well done and lived up to how I had pictured things in my mind.

MY RATING: 4 stars!

This book qualifies as:
#4 for my 2011 Audio Book Challenge
#4 for my 2011 "Whisper Stories in My Ear" Challenge
#6 for my 2011 100+ Reading Challenge


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