The author recalls episodes of love and humor from her experiences living on Vashon Island in Puget Sound.
©1955 Betty MacDonald, Estate (P)2016 Post Hypnotic Press Inc.
I'll need to listen the Betty's books all over again. Written from a time when life was so hard but attitudes were so positive in the way that survival took place. Just an amazing lesson for those of us born after the era.
Betty has had joy and disappointments of living on the Vashon Island in Washington State during WWII. The story documents her life with great insight and humor. Her teenage daughters with their mood swings was fun to hear about and they way they handle life. What I love most, Betty doesn't paint island living as all glamor and fun. There are hardships and worries along the way. You really get to know her family and what it was really like.
The narrator, Heather did an excellent job. Her voice makes the listener loose themselves in the story. You forget everything else that is going on. All the voices she did with the daughters to the men was excellent.
I received this audiobook as part of my participation in a blog tour with Audiobookworm Promotions. The tour is being sponsored by Post Hypnotic Press, Inc. The gifting of this audiobook did not affect my opinion of it.
I've listened to a couple audiobooks in my day and I'd say this one falls to the bottom. Just because the story really isn't for me. When reading he blurb I expected a little more action, but this seems to be more of a storytelling book than anything. Kind of like those old proverbs my grandma used to read to me. Which are still good stories, just not for me.
I would have to say the main character Betty MacDonald. Her two children were annoying and Joan was assuredly stuck up. Don just seemed lazy.
I thought her voice was nice. She really did a good job of showing different ranges in her voice. She was even in her tone and not fast paced.
It was not. As I stated previously, this is not a story for me. But I did finish, and did enjoy some parts. I wasn't sitting on the floor laughing my socks off, but I also didn't hate the Book.
Onions in the Stew is Betty MacDonald’s fourth memoir and it is so hilarious! There is really no set theme in this installment, just a collection of humorous moments from Betty’s life living on Vashon Island during and after World War 2 with her second husband and two daughters. It was such a treat to peek back in time through Ms. MacDonald’s words and her amazing ability to turn any horrible event into something that will have you laughing at loud. Raising two teenage girls is a challenging feat for any mother, but Ms. MacDonald’s witty humor made it sound like a whole lot of fun.
Heather Henderson narrates Onions in the Stew, and she does an outstanding job once again with this installment. I can’t think of another narrator that could even come close to the exceptional talent of Ms. Henderson. As I have stated in previous audio book reviews from this author, her voice of Betty MacDonald is perfect and I feel as though Ms. MacDonald is in the room with me. Ms. Henderson is also able to give each of the characters a distinct voice which I think really adds to the story. I don’t feel as though I am being read to, instead I feel as though I am right there with each of the characters – which makes this a wonderful listening experience. The production quality of this recording is top notch and the narration flows effortlessly.
Onions in the Stew was exceptionally well-written and with the charming characters and numerous laugh-out-loud moments makes this one book that I would highly recommend to just about anyone who is needing an uplifting and funny reading/listening experience. You really can’t go wrong with this title and is well worth a credit.
Story – 4 stars
Performance – 5 stars
Overall – 4.5 stars
Back in the Dark Ages when I was young, probably about 15, I saw an old movie called "The Egg and I" and fell in love with the story and the characters. As it happens, the only person in that movie that's in Onions in the Stew is Betty MacDonald; the children weren't born yet and Betty was with her first husband rather than the fella in this book. Claudette Colbert and Fred MacMurray were delightful and I still have very fond memories of that movie today. Oddly, as long ago as that was, it's Claudette Colbert's voice I remember so that caused me a bit of a problem when I started listening to this audio book.Never mind. It wasn't long at all before Heather Henderson became Betty MacDonald to my ear and I came to really appreciate her narration and, most of all, her ability to create individual voices for the many characters. Among my favorites are Anne and Joan, Betty's teenaged daughters, and the woman whose name I don't recall that managed the peach farm.Ms. MacDonald didn't write a lot of books before she died of cancer in her late 40's but those few are masterpieces of humor. We seem to think that "snark" is a modern invention but this author mastered that kind of funniness all those years ago and we're the better for it. I hooted at the passages dealing with her daughters' adolescence and her tale of picking peaches for a few dollars a day left me smiling but full of admiration for this woman who was always willing to do whatever needed doing. Life on an island in the 1940's with war restrictions and lack of services had to be difficult but Betty took it as an adventure, the best way to look life in the eye and thumb your nose at it.I have only one quibble---I now know more, much more, about clams than I ever wanted to. By the time this part was over, I'd heard about every kind of clam there is, how to dig for each kind found on the island, the special difficulties of finding and capturing the prized geoduck (there's a hilarious treatise on this clam here), how to pronounce geoduck (not what you might think), how to keep clams ready for cooking, how to cook them and a handful of recipes. Enough with the clams ;-) My only wish regarding Betty MacDonald is that we had someone like her writing today.
Betty and her family had quite the time on Vashon Island, Washington State. With her second husband (Don MacDonald) and her two young girls (Joan and Anne), Betty experienced the joys and disappointments of living on an island. Set during WWII, this mostly autobiographical book recounts Betty’s life with wry humor and insight.
Once again, Betty has amused me. By now, after reading 4 books by her, I feel like Betty is somewhat of a friend. I really enjoyed this book from clamming to peaches to teen years to housecleaners. Living on Vashon Island, which was only connected to the mainland via ferries and personal boats, was quite a bit rougher than she and her family expected. There’s also the beauty of having an island house which is also captured well in this book.
The MacDonalds took over the house during an idyllic summer. There were plenty of clams on their personal beach, including geoduck clams. The downstairs practically-outdoor shower was perfect for rinsing off after time in the sea. The great big hearth would be quite wonderful in winter. Then the cold season sets in. The family comes to find out that having a nearly-outdoor shower is onerous to heat up in winter. The great big hearth is truly magnificent but you have to haul in the wood for it, usually driftwood from the beach. The reality settles in and yet the MacDonalds still find much to love about the island.
Betty does such a great job with the humor. She gently pokes fun at everyone and is a little more jabby when focusing the eye on herself. She praises her daughters abilities while also realistically portraying their teen-aged arguments and volatile mood swings. There are plenty of characters that appear through the several years this book covers. Some are helpful handymen, some good cooks, some terrible at child rearing, some are drunk and merry.
Onions in the Stew does a good job of showing the hardships or inconveniences (depending on your point of view) of island living. Betty doesn’t paint the entire experience as a ‘wonderful’ way of life. Nope. Using humor she gives us a slice of reality. That is the root of why I enjoy her books so much. While The Plague and I is still my favorite book by her, this one was quite good as well.
I received a free copy of this book via The Audiobookworm.
The Narration: Heather Henderson is great as the voice of Betty MacDonald. She also did a great job with the voices of Joan and Anne even as they age throughout the book. I also enjoyed her male voices, including Don’s. Her Japanese accent was also good.
Betty's Sardonic Wit
I think my favourite has to be Betty herself. She is the star of the show, can make you giggle or cringe in the space of seconds. She is tough but does show an emotional side. She is very much a lady of her time.
Yes, this is the fourth book I have listened to by Heather, her performance is always flawless and draws the listener in to a point of being captivated.
I didn't cry but I certainly laughed a few times, the thing I like about Betty is she can laugh at her own mishaps too.
This is the fourth Betty book I have listened to, by now I have come to expect a level of sardonic humour along with a big dollop of common sense. If any books can guarantee to put life into perspective if you are having a ‘down’ day then it has to be a ‘Betty MacDonald’. She was an absolute trooper of her day who stood no nonsense from anybody but at the same time usually averted a crisis somehow with her wit.
Life has moved on now and her and her husband and two growing teenage girls are living on Vashon Island, off of Seattle. So you can see where this story may lead, how to survive in the 1940/50’s with limited facilities (although I’m sure USA was far more advanced than UK) money being tight, concocting recipes from local sea food, gathering driftwood for the fire etc .. it sounds idyllic but was obviously tough.
Betty still tries to find employment wherever she can, family life is fraught at times but beneath it all you get a feeling of genuine affection. As I have stated previously you have to remember these books were set/written a long time ago so there are many things which may not meet the realms of acceptance in this day and age of political correctness. The things they did without a second thought like smoking constantly, including the kids, the reaction to ‘foreigners’ but this is how it was in those days.
I find them a fascinating account of ‘real’ life from that era of a normal hard-working family trying to succeed or at best survive with all the associated problems they face. Admittedly I preferred the earlier books in the series but this one still stands the test of time.
The narrator as usual has a strong comforting voice, speaks clearly and makes it an enjoyable experience to listen to .. I will miss her as much as Betty! Having said that I have one more book lined up to enjoy!
Thanks to Jess at AudioBookWorm, Post Hypnotic Press etc .. I listened and reviewed this audio-book voluntarily.
The narration is excellent and delivered with perfect sarcasm and snarkiness; but I would love to also have the book so I could pull some of those quotes or just re-read some of the scenes.
The author/narrator is my favorite character, but she brings so many others to full-color life because she is so observant.
This book will make you laugh and laugh and laugh -- and shake your head that so much has changed in the last 60+ years but so much hasn't.
This is time well-spent with a fabulous snapshot into life in the 50s and just family life in general.
I chose to read this book after receiving a free copy of the audiobook. All opinions in this review are my own and completely unbiased.
I had listened to The Egg and I, The Plague and I, and Anybody Can do Anything and enjoyed all of them so I was looking forward to listening to this one. Betty MacDonald's storytelling is delightful as is the narration.
This isn't my favorite book by Betty MacDonald, but it's still good. It's about her family life on Vashon Island in Puget Sound with her husband Don and her girls during their trying teen years.
Betty had such a great view of everything and everyone. From neighbors and unexpected guests to blundering repairmen and unreasonable teen daughters, she made me giggle.
The narrator, Heather Henderson, has a pleasant voice and I enjoy 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 all of these audiobooks by Betty Macdonald. They're bound to bring a smile to your face.
I loved this memoir. I was warmed by Betty MacDonald's affection for her family and, as I have a teenanger myself right now, smiled in recognition of those universal characteristics of teenagers that are consistent through time and place.
I had read that this wasn't her best memoir, and it certainly is different from her first three - but while it is different, it still had plenty of charm and humor. Perhaps my sentimental response was partly because I had listened to Paula Becker's biography, "Looking for Betty MacDonald" before this book, so I knew that this was Betty's last memoir. Cancer claimed her three short years after this was published.
"Onions in the Stew" was published in 1955 and America was much more conservative than it had been in the mid-forties when Betty's first bestseller, "The Egg and I," was released. As Becker points out: "In keeping with the conservative decade in which it was published, "Onions" smoothed ruffled feathers and presented a traditional patriarchal household not glimpsed in Betty's other books. Set during the period when in real life Betty's new marriage was fresh and passionate and she was creating the book that would remake her destiny, 'Onions' presents Betty as a Claudette Colbert version of herself" (referring to the movie version of "The Egg and I," which starred Colbert and Fred MacMurray and introduced Ma and Pa Kettle, characters who would go on to have a cinema life of their own).
I think that's a pretty apt way to describe the difference between the earlier memoirs and "Onions." The tone is different, but not so different. Betty is still scrappy, irreverent, and not quite conforming, but her humor doesn't have quite as much bite as it did and, referring back again to Becker's bio, her language has been cleaned-up: "Lippincott editor George Stevens outlined his concerns about Betty's "Onions" manuscript in a letter. ... "some readers will be put off by the Goddamns, the Jesuses and the passage towards the end about adolescent discovery of sex."
From our modern perspective, I wish we had access to a bit more of that earlier manuscript, before the clean-up. On the other hand, I'm glad Betty managed to release this fourth memoir. And so, while it is different than her earlier memoirs, I'm giving this five stars across the board.
Heather Henderson, who has voiced all four of Betty's memoirs, is to be commended for her excellent narration. As many others have noted when reviewing her earlier memoirs, it's like she's channelling Betty - you feel like you're hanging with the author herself. And her facility with character voices is fantastic!
I'd definitely recommend this audiobook - but you might want to listen to the first three memoirs and even to Paula Becker's biography first before listening to this one.
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