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CarpeLibrum

Carpe Librum

Reviews and bookish conversation with author Samantha Wilcoxson.

If I am lost, you will find me in medieval England.

You can also find me - and my books - on my blog.

Historical Novel Society

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Review: Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt

Angela's Ashes - Frank McCourt

I am searching for more pages, one final chapter. This cannot be how it ends.

No, I'm not longing for more because this story was so captivating or the prose beautifully poetic. I seriously can't believe that this whole story leads up to such a lame let-down of an ending. Did I truly just read 362 pages of childhood memories relating heart-wrenching tales of impoverishment and neglect only to be reassured in the end that little Frankie McCourt

got laid by a lonely American housewife as soon as he landed on US soil?

(show spoiler)

Really? That's the moral of the story?

Even before the worst book ending of all time, this memoir was mediocre. McCourt seems to have memories that stretch back to the time before he was born and include great detail of his toddler years. If that kind of thing doesn't bother you in nonfiction, than there is still the complete lack of quotation marks to drive you crazy. I'm sure this is supposed to be his "personal writing style." I don't buy it. It's just poor grammar.

Now that I've got that out, I can admit that some of McCourt's tales of hunger, sickness, alcoholism, and death are certainly touching, even heartbreaking, but unfortunately not uncommon. I kept waiting for the moment in his life that made his story special. I guess it was the point where he wrote a book and made millions of dollars.

McCourt's writing is quite good, if you don't mind the lack of punctuation. He makes good use of a first person present tense narration that is extremely difficult to do well. The voice changes as he moves from 3 years old to the end where he is 19. He does a fabulous job of showing the reader each person he interacts with through the eyes of a child.

Opportunities existed for this to have real impact. Frank struggles with his faith when he gets old enough to question why God lets some suffer and even die. He works to pull himself out of the poverty that most of his family (relatively) happily wallows in. Unfortunately, the author spends just as much time on teenage masturbation and fantasies. Such potential, only to be a complete disappointment.

The reader never learns if Frank overcame his doubts about his faith and only know because you're reading it that he found success as a writer, but don't worry, he did get laid.

(show spoiler)



I know people adore this book and I had certainly hoped to, but it comes across as a rather bland and unfinished life story.