“Worse than the ordinary miserable childhood is the miserable Irish childhood. Worse yet is the miserable Irish Catholic childhood.” No book review of Angela’s Ashes is complete without quoting these opening lines, because in them lies the promise of an engaging and poignant story.
Frank McCourt’s memoir of his childhood takes you to the damp slums of Limerick where you look in the houses of the poorest of the poor. The descriptions of the living conditions though written objectively, are so vivid that there are times when you bless yourself for your own fortunes.
Frank’s chronically alcoholic father keeps the family deprived of better conditions. He fails at every opportunity to redeem himself. As you progress through, you learn to like him for his genuine affection for his family, and hate him for letting his family rot away in poverty.
The author’s situation could so easily depress readers that they may shy away from the memoir midway. But this is where Frank’s wit and ability to distance himself from his past comes into rescue. The narrative is interwoven with funny anecdotes bringing out all the queerness of a small Irish town. Written with the innocence of a growing child makes it even more endearing.
The language is simple with plenty of Irish colloquialism and flows smoothly from page to page. At the end you are kept wanting for more. And as a writer if you can keep the reader wanting to read one more page, than you have succeeded in writing a good book.