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    Angela's Ashes: 'Worse than the ordinary miserable childhood
    is the miserable Irish childhood', so writes Frank McCourt
    in his Pulitzer Prize winning novel. This is a story of
    extreme poverty and hardship that is not for the faint
    hearted. Indeed it sometimes traverses the line between
    entertainment and enlightenment.

    This is a story of the fight against poverty. The McCourt
    family moved back from America where they had gone to make
    a life and returned to Limerick city at a time when Ireland
    had little to offer them. When disease, hunger and
    malnutrition takes his brothers and sisters from him, young
    Frankie and his brother Malachy grow up little realising
    that life has more to offer than old potatoes and bolied
    pigs head for Christmas dinner. The family were crammed
    into a tenement slum. The upstairs room was 'Italy', warm
    and dry. Downstairs was Ireland, wet and cold. The rats,
    the death, the shared latrine and the smell of poverty and
    neglect pervade evey paragraph of this powerful book.

    If young Frank is the hero of the story then it is difficult
    to regard his father as an anti-hero. His drunkeness and
    eventual abandonment of his family are upsetting and yet
    we still cannot quite condemn him. Frankies mother, Angela,
    is regarded with little emotion by the author and the
    description of her struggle and humiliation are only very
    occasionally tinged with anything approaching pity.

    This typical tale of an Irish childhood is now the subject
    of a major motion picture directed by Alan Parker with
    Robert Carlyle and Emily Lloyd in the lead roles.

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