Angela's Ashes This absorbing, affecting memoir is the story of a man who grew up not in the war-torn territory of Cabrini Green, or the South Bronx,… Drama Historical
Book Review

Angela's Ashes

EW's GRADE
A

Details Writer: Frank McCourt; Genres: Drama, Historical

This absorbing, affecting memoir is the story of a man who grew up not in the war-torn territory of Cabrini Green, or the South Bronx, but in Limerick, Ireland, on the eve of World War II. The eldest of seven children (only four of whom lived past infancy), Frank McCourt was born in New York City to the Angela of the title and her alcoholic husband, Malachy. After the death of their only daughter, they took their brood back to Ireland. ''People everywhere brag and whimper about the woes of their early years,'' writes McCourt, ''but nothing can compare with the Irish version: the poverty; the shiftless loquacious alcoholic father; the pious defeated mother moaning by the fire....'' The happy childhood, he adds, ''is hardly worth your while.'' The power of Angela's Ashes is that it makes you believe the claim; that despite the rags and hunger and pain, love and strength do come out of misery — as well as a page-turner of a book. And though the experience it tells of was individual, the point — and the story — is universal. A

Originally posted Sep 20, 1996 Published in issue #345 Sep 20, 1996 Order article reprints