Book: Angel’s Ashes
Author: Frank MC Court
Setting: 1930s 1940s Limerick Ireland
Angel’s Ashes is a classic work by Frank MC Court, an Irish American writer who won Pulitzer for this book Angela’s Ashes. Angel’s Ashes is a stirring book that recaptures the qualms of a “miserable Irish Catholic childhood.”
Frank MC Court – Author Introduction:
Frank MC Court was born in Depression tossed Brooklyn New York on August 1930. He was seven of the eldest son of Irish immigrant parents. He was raised in the slums of Limerick, Ireland. His father Malachy was an irresponsible drunkard and his mother Angela had no money to feed her sons. Franks’ sister Margaret and twin brothers Oliver and Eugene died at an early age.
“When I look back on my childhood, I wonder how I managed to survive at all.”
The storyline of the Novel Angel’s Ashes by Frank MC Court
It is a memoir and it follows the tragic tale of the author’s own life. Malachy and Angela loved each other. Though Malachy did not want to marry Angela as he had no fixed earnings and what he earned he spent in the pub, Angela’s fierce cousins Mac Namara sisters Delia and Philomela forced him to marry Angela as she got pregnant.
The author who was the eldest son of the Malachy Angela family recalls the happy days when his father used to get a job and bring a week’s wages on Friday night. His mother could pay the loans for groceries and they can use toilet paper instead of the daily news that used to blacken their arses with their headlines.
But very soon that happiness changes into a sad story. No money, no work and only the babble of a drunkard. He left them for work in England but never send money and even when he returned for Christmas, he brought no money. They were hungry and pathetic. The babies got water and sugar in their bottles instead of milk, and their dresses were dirty, scanty, and cold.
Frank used to steal apples and food and drink milk from cow’s udder. He helped his uncle deliver newspapers. Mr. Timoney an old man with poor eyesight used to pay Frank to read to him. He caught typhoid but finally recuperate in the hospital after three months to get conjunctivitis again for one month. He was doing good in school despite the teasing of his fellow students for his poverty. But he left school for earning money and to help his mother. Finally, he saved money and bought a ticket to sail for New York.
It reminds me of The House on the Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros where Esperanza left Mango Street for a wider world.
When I read the novel, I feel how humorously he portrays such a tragic tale of life. He recalls those days of penance and hunger without expressing any personal grievance or bitterness. Like a detached observer he watched every single detail of his parent’s life them with his comic style.
His mother’s birth at the wee hour of New Year’s evening is portrayed in such a comic way that is worth mentioning. Again he described his father “the thinning hair, the collapsing teeth and wonder why anyone would give money for a head like that.”
Even he described the meeting of his parents and their love in the same comic trial.
” Malachy liked Angela and she liked him. He had a hangdog look, which came from the three months he had just spent in jail for hijacking a truck.”
The novel, a tragic sad tale of impoverished childhood is fashioned in such a comic manner. Captivating yet heart-rendering narration brings tears and smiles at the same time. I go on pondering how pathetic life was yet how casually he tinged those sad threads with such fun. And the author who traverses such thorny ways to this glory of a memoir that brings him a Pulitzer prize inspired me to the extreme.
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