The Egg and I Book Review
Title: The Egg and I
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.
The Egg and I was an interesting look at life in the 1940s on a chicken farm. This was my first time hearing the story (or anything related to the story!) and I enjoyed listening to her story that was infused with humour. She has a great skill in story telling and you feel as though it is a conversation with her versus a biography of her life. I had to look up more information and was pleasantly surprised to find out that it was translated into twenty languages and the Kettles were even featured in a movie. We have an Egg and I restaurant located near us and while it wasn’t associated with the story, I did find several in the US that were inspired by her novel. Pretty cool right?
Betty’s life was not easy – I can’t even begin to imagine how she must have felt moving to a chicken farm (I definitely know I would not be suited for that type of life at all). But both her family and herself made it through it and I think her humour and outlook helped them through it. I found myself literally laughing out loud several times throughout the novel (especially her comments about some of the women she met and the ‘boonies’). My family could hear me giggling from the bathroom as I listened to her novel (I loved that I could listen to the story and do other things like cook or bath while listening to the story – Audible books have quickly become one of my favourite methods to finish a novel). She is a very skilled author and has a great way of story telling that draws you into the story. You can hear, taste and smell everything she is describing. She has an amazing outlook on life, that is inspiring and uplifting, reminding us to embrace all that life throws at us and smile back. Something that I fear too many of us no longer do!
I do have to caution you that some of the references to Native Americans are inappropriate and very stereotypical of this time. Some are offensive but you have to bear in mind the time period this was written in as you are listening to the story. I am sure if she were to re-tell this in present time, it would not have the same tone and wording. It is encouraging to see how far we have come in realizing the inappropriateness of racial discrimination.
The narration was very well done, her voice definitely suited the tone of the story. Her voice and the story matched perfectly – it sounded just like Betty was reading you the story herself!
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