What’s it about? Born in Depression-era Brooklyn to Irish immigrant parents, Frank McCourt was later raised in the slums of Limerick, Ireland. His mother, Angela, had no money to feed her children since Frank’s father, Malachy, rarely worked, and when he did, he drank his wages. Angela’s Ashes is the story of how Frank endured – wearing shoes repaired with tires, begging for a pig’s head for Christmas dinner, and searching the pubs for his father.
Is the narrator any good? McCourt is not only a great storyteller, but he’s a FANTASTIC reader. I was captivated by his Irish brogue, occasional songs and joyful spirit. He narrates with a different voice for every character and the conversations flow so realistically you’d think you were standing right there in the pub in Limerick yourself!
The verdict? Listening to Angela’s Ashes is an example of how an audio book can bring a dimension to literature that raises the medium far above the convenience of “listening on the go”. The book is a classic, having won the Pulitzer Prize in 1997 and a National Book Critics Circle Award in 1996. But to listen to McCourt tell his story with eloquence, exuberance and remarkable forgiveness is something else – I feel as if people who have only read the book have missed out on something. Finally, some people find Angela’s Ashes to be depressing, but I find it to be just the opposite. McCourt’s attitude is inspiring. He got through his terrible childhood, and triumphed. And the world is a better place for it.