Author: Betty MacDonald
Narrator: Heather Henderson
Length: 9 hours
Publisher: Post Hypnotic Press⎮2015
Genre: Humor, Memoir
When Betty MacDonald married a marine and moved to a small chicken farm on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State, she was largely unprepared for the rigors of life in the wild. With no running water, no electricity, a house in need of constant repair, and days that ran from four in the morning to nine at night, the MacDonalds had barely a moment to put their feet up and relax. And then came the children. Yet through every trial and pitfall – through chaos and catastrophe – this indomitable family somehow, mercifully, never lost its sense of humor.
A beloved literary treasure for more than half a century, Betty MacDonald’s The Egg and I is a heartwarming and uproarious account of adventure and survival on the American frontier.
Betty Bard MacDonald (1907–1958), the best-selling author of The Egg and I and the classic Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle children’s books, burst onto the literary scene shortly after the end of World War II. Readers embraced her memoir of her years as a young bride operating a chicken ranch on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula, andThe Egg and I sold its first million copies in less than a year. The public was drawn to MacDonald’s vivacity, her offbeat humor, and her irreverent take on life. In 1947, the book was made into a movie starring Fred MacMurray and Claudette Colbert, and spawned a series of films featuring MacDonald’s Ma and Pa Kettle characters.
MacDonald followed up the success of The Egg and I with the creation of Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle, a magical woman who cures children of their bad habits, and with three additional memoirs: The Plague and I (chronicling her time in a tuberculosis sanitarium just outside Seattle), Anybody Can Do Anything (recounting her madcap attempts to find work during the Great Depression), and Onions in the Stew (about her life raising two teenage daughters on Vashon Island).
Author Paula Becker was granted full access to Betty MacDonald’s archives, including materials never before seen by any researcher. Looking for Betty MacDonald, the first official biography of this endearing Northwest storyteller, reveals the story behind the memoirs and the difference between the real Betty MacDonald and her literary persona.
Heather Henderson is a voice actress and audiobook narrator with a 20-year career in literary and performing arts. Her narrations include the NYT bestseller (now also a feature film) Brain on Fire; and Sharon Creech’s The Boy on the Porch, which won her an Earphones award and was named one of the Best Children’s Audiobooks for 2013 by Audiofile Magazine. She earned her Doctor of Fine Arts degree at the Yale School of Drama, and is co-curator of AudioEloquence.com, a pronunciation research site for the audiobook industry. In 2015, Heather was a finalist for a Voice Arts Award (Outstanding Narration, Audiobook Classics), for her narration of Betty MacDonald’s The Egg and I.
I chose to listen to the audiobook after receiving a free copy. All opinions in this review are my own and completely unbiased.
The Egg and I is a delightful memoir about the first couple of years of Betty MacDonald’s marriage. Despite her misgivings, they bought a remote ranch on a mountain and started a chicken farm.
Even though the work was grueling and it was lonely, Betty kept her sense of humor and her husband loved the life they were living.
Readers nowadays may be offended by the way she talks about Indians but they need to keep in mind that this book was written in the 1940’s, and her view was accepted back then. She actually wrote that she hated the Indians. I’m not sure why she wrote that since she talked nicely about a couple of them later in the book. But I suggest not reading or listening to The Egg and I if you can’t get past that. It did rub me the wrong way but I know people talked like that 70 years ago and it was considered “okay,” so I looked past those comments and was still able to enjoy the book.
Another thing that stuck out as something that wouldn’t be accepted today was when they went to the fair and she put her baby in the truck to sleep and left her there to look at some things at the fair. Or when she left the baby lying with the dog when she went to care for the farm animals. Times sure have changed!
Betty MacDonald’s description of her neighbors, the Kettles tickled me. We lived in northeast Tennessee when I was a teenager and we often drove in the mountains and saw farms that looked like she described the Kettle’s home. My dad always commented how funny it was that there’d be a farm like that next to one that was really nice.
The narrator, Heather Henderson, has a pleasant voice and I enjoyed listening to her. She did a great job of using different voices for different characters. I especially liked Pa Kettle’s voice.
I enjoyed listening to the Egg and I and I hope to see the movie sometime.
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