"The best thing about the Depression was the way it reunited our family and gave my sister Mary a real opportunity to prove that anybody can do anything, especially Betty."
After surviving both the failed chicken farm - and marriage - immortalized in The Egg and I, Betty MacDonald returns to live with her mother and desperately searches to find a job to support her two young daughters. With the help of her older sister Mary, Anybody Can Do Anything recounts her failed, and often hilarious, attempts to find work during the Great Depression.
©1950 Betty MacDonald (P)2016 Post Hypnotic Press Inc.
Betty MacDonald returns us to her humorous world, this time during the Great Depression in Seattle. This book is set after her tales of the chicken farm (captured in The Egg and I) and covers her various job fiascoes before and after her stint in a tuberculosis sanatorium (as told in The Plague and I).
Betty is the second oldest child in a family of 4 daughters and 1 son. Her older sister Mary was always getting the younger kids to do what she wanted, either by trickery or by simply assuming they would do so and telling them all the reasons it’s in their best interest as well. This book starts off with Betty’s earliest years and all those school-year pranks and hi-jinks her sister Mary organized. For me, these were cute, quaint stories but didn’t interest me nearly as much as her other two books.
The book then skips ahead several years to directly after Betty’s failed marriage and her coming home from the chicken farm to live with her mom and siblings, bringing her two toddling daughters. I found these little stories more to my liking. Basically, it’s all about Betty and Mary, and occasionally one of the other siblings, finding and keeping work during the Depression int eh 1930s in Seattle. Mary was somewhat of a genius at getting her siblings jobs. Basically, she would claim that she or one of her siblings had the skills that whatever employer was looking for. She often stretched the truth and in those cases where she lied, she did make an effort to get either herself or her sibling acquainted with the skill before reporting to work.
Betty rarely had steady work; either the position was temporary from the beginning or the business closed. Her bosses could be a terror as well, acting like temperamental children with the power to fire people. Sometimes the men hiring secretaries were looking for ladies with special skills, skills that Mary and Betty weren’t willing to take on in a hired position. The there are her funny stories of going into debt and how she managed to get out of it. Yet through it all, Betty tells these tales with such humor. I’ve really enjoyed that about these books. She doesn’t paint a rosy picture, instead telling it how it is yet she maintains the ability to laugh at the situation (and sometimes herself).
My favorite story in this one is about a mysterious young lady that joined Betty in the task of folding flyers and sealing them in envelopes for mailing out later. This young lady seemed lonely but was almost assuredly disturbed. She stalked Betty and made both friendly little gestures and mean, even threatening, gestures and comments. It was a very strange encounter that went on for a few weeks. It became one of those unsolved mysteries turned family joke that her family like to pick over on boring evening.
This was a fun book but I prefer both The Egg and I and The Plague and I. With both of those books, there was a clear story arc. This book was a series of anecdotal tales tied together by Betty’s or Mary’s presence. While an enjoyable book, it didn’t carry the weight of the other two.
I received a free copy of this book via The Audiobookworm.
The Narration: Heather Henderson seemed to have some fun with this book. She’s still a great Betty MacDonald, but she’s also a great Mary Bard. I loved the play between these two sisters and Hendersen does a great job of bringing that to life in the narration.
Anyone who has read my blog recently will know I am a convert and huge fan of Betty books. They have the ability to raise a smile on the darkest of days and make me giggle quietly to myself.
The overwhelming sense of family still floods through, the descriptions of the area and community are fabulous. The beauty of this series is the way Betty talks/writes to the readers, she either draws you in with her wit or makes you scream in frustration at her acid tongue.
I almost get withdrawal symptoms when I finish a ‘Betty’ book .. thankfully I have another lined up ready to listen to! I have no idea what I will do when I have heard them all, probably start at the beginning again because I am bound to get just as much enjoyment a second time around.
I listened to this on audiobook so probably confused a few members of the public when I suddenly began laughing for no apparent reason!
This time Betty has returned to the family home following her divorce *scandal* accompanied by her kids. It is imperative she finds employment but during the depression of the 30’s in the USA jobs were few and far between. Her sister Mary decides she will assist matters and coach Betty in all areas of work and find her a suitable job. Mary happens to know a lot of people which is fortunate considering how haphazard Betty can be .. she goes through jobs like a dose of salts.
The memoir goes into great detail and is wonderfully amusing. One thing Betty has is optimism in bucket loads. And Mary is so confident that ‘Anybody Can Do Anything’ hence the title. It was quite an education in itself just hearing about all the different jobs Betty applied for .. remember this was a long time ago so obviously times have changed and frankly they have altered for the better.
The narrator as usual was brilliant, she has a comforting voice that entices you to listen. She has a wide variety of ‘voices’ for the characters and is easy to follow. I almost get withdrawal symptoms when I finish a ‘Betty’ book .. thankfully I have another lined up ready to listen to!
Many thanks to Post Hypnotic Press and Jess at AudioBookWorm for introducing me to these marvellous stories .. I reviewed voluntarily.
Anybody Can Do Anything is the third of Betty MacDonald's memoirs (and the second I've listened to), and it doesn't disappoint. With the excellent narrator Heather Henderson returning, readers will be transported right into the arms -- or armpit -- of MacDonald's like during the Depression.
For modern readers, the snapshot of Depression era living is startling, with hard to believe prices for goods and services (twelve cents a pound for ground beef) and MacDonald's descriptive passages bringing it all vividly to life. But despite the extreme conditions, MacDonald speaks of "the warmth and loyalty and laughter of a big family," and how "everyone will shift until you fit." MacDonald and her mother, siblings, and children found happiness, held it together, and even thrived.
Heather Henderson shines as the audiobook narrator, and she absolutely nails both the humor and melancholy of MacDonald's writing, as she did in The Plague and I. Henderson knows which words to emphasize in her performance, and she voices multiple characters with humor and finesse. She is particularly clever in voicing a character named Dorita (lots of laughing for me, here) and really brought Dorita's strangeness to peculiar life.
I highly recommend the Anybody Can Do Anything audiobook and would love the print version so I could highlight all the fabulous quotes. I especially love that it was a story that was easy to listen to without having to give it my full attention (while driving or wearing my domestic goddess crown, for example).
With an original publication date of 1948, there are anecdotes and attitudes that are definitely not considered politically correct today, which again illustrate the differences of life eighty plus years ago. There are also situations that show some things never change, like the irony of the debt cycle that can happens when borrowing on credit or working for the government where MacDonald said that never had she seen so many "directors directing directors, supervisors supervising supervisors."
Absolutely! Heather Henderson is an amazing narrator and really brings the story to life.
Every scene with Betty's sister Mary...she was a HOOT!
I laughed out loud several times throughout!
Anybody Can Do Anything is absolutely hilarious! The Depression era was a difficult time in history and from what I learned from my grandparents, life was not easy for most. Even though this was a hard time, Betty MacDonald shares this part of her life with the perfect slice of humor that had me laughing out loud. With the help of her sister, Mary, she held many jobs and gained skills she never thought possible. Even though this is Ms. MacDonald’s memoir, her sister Mary steals the limelight in my opinion. With her can-do attitude and never-take-no-for-an-answer mentality, I really felt she was the glue that held this family together during this time of their life.
Anybody Can Do Anything is completely stand-alone, but if you want to read/listen in order, I would start with The Egg and I first, then Anybody Can Do Anything, and then end with The Plague and I. Although each book is fantastic and enjoyable I found that I enjoyed Anybody Can Do Anything just a tad bit more than the others due to all of Mary’s shenanigans. She was just fun to learn about.
Anybody Can Do Anything is narrated by Heather Henderson. I simply love all the voices of Heather Henderson but most of all her voice of Betty MacDonald. She has this certain ability to draw the listener in and convince you that Ms. MacDonald is sitting right in front of you relaying the events of her life. The production quality is superb and the pacing of the narration was just right. Ms. Henderson is a delight to listen to and makes an already great story positively amazing.
Overall, Anybody Can Do Anything was an absolute delightful listen that was fun and entertaining. Betty MacDonald wrote with such humor that I found myself laughing out loud many times. Not only is Ms. MacDonald a funny and witty writer she is also just plain entertaining and with Heather Henderson’s narration added makes this amazing read/listen.
Pretty much any new 'scheme' that Mary pulled in order to find jobs for her family. What a hoot she was! All in the name of love and survival. She was the fittest.
Her tone, her style of speaking, the way she told the story of such hardship in a positive light-without the dread and fear that I'm sure it caused. I wasn't born in that era so I don't pretend to know however, I appreciate a lesson on the way it was.
Yes! I was so disappointed when it ended.
I chuckled and guffawed my way through this book. What a wonderful way to tell the story of the Great Depression in that it didn't get so heavy that I might clap my hands over my ears. I learned so much, and put so many bits and pieces together from the stories my Granny used to tell me.
I chose to listen to this audiobook after receiving a free copy from Audiobookworm Promotions. All opinions in this review are my own and completely unbiased.
I had listened to The Egg and I and The Plague and I and enjoyed both so I was looking forward to listening to this one. Betty MacDonald’s storytelling is delightful as is the narration.
This is my favorite book by Betty MacDonald so far. It’s mostly about her family life, both as a child and after she left her husband on the chicken farm and returned home. Since it was during the Depression, Betty, her daughters, her mom, and her siblings all lived under one roof and tried to survive the best they could.
Betty’s sister, Mary, was a force to be reckoned with. She could talk Betty into doing just about anything both when they were children and when they were adults. She got Betty into some scary situations but Betty is always able to put a spin on it and makes most things funny, anywhere from a chuckle to laugh out loud funny.
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. She has narrated all of the books by Betty MacDonald that I’ve listened to and it was nice to associate her voice with Betty’s stories.
I definitely recommend Anybody Can Do Anything if you enjoy a good story and I am looking forward to listening to Onions in the Stew by Betty MacDonald in the near future.
Report Inappropriate Content
If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.