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.
©1945 Betty MacDonald (P)2015 Post Hypnotic Press
I am an avid eclectic reader.
I remember in 1946 my mother reading “The egg and I” to my sister and I. I remember enjoying the book and when I saw it released in audio format I decided to read it again.
The book was released in October of 1945 and it was a quirky, semi-autobiographical book about a young woman in the Pacific Northwest during the early decades of the twentieth century. The book opens with her childhood but most of the book is about her marriage in 1927 and her life on a chicken farm in the Olympic Peninsula. We grew up on a farm so the book brought back memories.
The book is full of humor; some of it farm people will relate to more than a city dweller. MacDonald made the other people in the book into composite characters with fictional names to protect their friends and acquaintances’ identities. She created the Kettle family and in 1947 they were made into a movie. Several people filed lawsuit claiming the book damaged their reputations but they all lost.
The book is well written and most enjoyable. Be prepared to laugh while reading. The book is narrated by heather Henderson.
I listened to the audiobook version of THE EGG AND I and found it as delightful as the movie and print version. By way of disclaimer, I and most of my forbears grew up on a farm in the Midwest. Betty MacDonald is about the same age as my grandparents. My parents, who also farmed, as well as some of my other relatives, raised chickens, as well as hogs, steers, sheep and milk cows. They gardened, canned, sewed, tatted and worried about running out of supplies before they could make it to town again. My relatives' stories about farming before electricity, running water and tractors became standard are similar in substance, but not as wittily told, as Betty's stories of living and working on a farm. Listening to this audiobook took me back in time to my childhood and to memories of my parents and grandparents talking about "the good old days".
I noticed, in some of the other reviews, that people were concerned about the way that Betty characterized the local American Indian population. I was surprised at this. For one thing, her characterizations of the American Indians were not entirely negative. She obviously was impressed with Indians that she was familiar with in her youth and the Indians in Washington appeared not to measure up to the high standards of her childhood memories. In any case, Betty's description of these Indians were gentle and kind next to her characterization of her Anglo Saxon neighbors, especially the Kettles. What I love about Betty's writing was that she treated everyone with equal amounts of wit, satire, soliloquy and sarcasm. I rolled on the floor laughing.
The listener who is not familiar with country living or who cannot imagine life before cellphones may not find this book as enjoyable and funny as I did. But anyone who has raised chickens, even 3 or 4 in your backyard, who has lived near colorful and eccentric neighbors, who has struggled to learn the skills necessary to survive in a new environment, or who just appreciates a well turned word will enjoy this audiobook immensely.
My hats off to Heather Henderson for a well done narration of this book. She made Betty and her family and neighbors come to life.
This is the kind of story you want to keep with you and listen to over and over. The characters and entertaining, inspiring, comforting and funny.
sure no two ways about it. Audio with a fabulous narrator is far more robust than reading a book.
Heather Henderson has a gentle and refined voice. I have listened to some of her other Audio narrations. and she lends a certain something to each book that is special, always she is in tune with the authors intent and true to the characters in the story,
Can't exactly say anything moved me because what did make an impact and not in a good way was when Bob, was so unfeeling and callous when the horse was standing on her foot and she was in real pain. The lout only was annoyed that the work was being slowed down and stopped.
The Egg and I was written during a very different mindset in history than today so no one should judge Betty for what was normal in 1945.
It was not far into the story that I really disliked Bob and could foresee that things were not going to work out in the long term for them as a couple. I had a sense he was marrying her for money and a workhorse. He was just mean and selfish. Aside from that he was way to old for Betty and she was to young and innocent for such a clod.
Betty MacDonald could really tell a story! "The Egg and I" is about her first two years of marriage to Bob on a chicken farm in the 1920s. She humorously tells it like it is, both the good and bad of the situation and neighbors.
For a book written over sixty years ago, the language was pretty bad and included some unsavory descriptions. But that the book remains interesting and very funny after so many years is remarkable.
The Egg and I is a mostly autobiographical account about Betty MacDonald’s time on a chicken farm in the late 1920s in Washington state. Filled with humor, there’s plenty of odd characters, hardships to over come, new foods to be explored, and eggs to be gathered, cleaned, and packaged for sale.
The story starts off with a brief, but laughter-inducing, account of Betty’s school years leading up to her whirlwind romance with Bob, their marriage, and then moving to the Pacific Northwest in search of heaven – a chicken farm of their own! Betty isn’t your typical heroine with perfect hair and stylish figure. Nope, she’s like all the rest of us. She was considered rather too tall for the times, being 5 ft 9 in. I like that she had a belly and rough hands and messy hair. In many ways she’s a very practical person, but she’s still a city girl moving to the country, so there’s plenty for her to learn.
There is one big negative to this book, which was typical of the time period (this book was originally published in 1945): racist remarks towards Native Americans. At the time, such remarks were common and considered accurate. Thankfully, our society as a whole has grown and such remarks today would not sit well with me at all. In truth, even in a historical perspective, these remarks make me a bit angry. However, I am glad that the publisher decided to keep the book as it was originally written instead of washing out these remarks, maintaining the historical accuracy of views at that time, and showing that people of every ethnicity, including the author, are flawed.
OK, so now that that is out of the way, there’s plenty I enjoyed about this book. First, this story spoke to me in many ways. My husband and I some years ago left city life for rural living and had a little farm. We had to go through many of the same learning curves as Betty – starting a fire every day in winter to heat the house, irrigation, gardening, chickens, plowing with equines, stray dogs getting into our property, etc. While we have indoor plumbing, it’s not too hard to picture Betty briskly walking out to the outhouse on a crisp autumn morning.
The Pacific Northwest, and several places named in this book, hold a special place in my heart. Having family in Port Angeles and Seattle, we have visited the area many times. So it was a real treat to see these places through Betty’s eyes in the late 1920s when things were really rugged. She talks of all the edible local foods including the Dungeness crabs and the geoduck clams. Having a chicken farm, they were never short of eggs, so she learned to add an extra egg or two to any recipe that called for eggs, and to a few recipes that did not.
Ma and Pa Kettle feature prominently in the story, being some of the closest neighbors to the isolated chicken farm. There’s also the Hicks, who are eccentric in other ways. I think anyone who moves to the country will find a bevvy of interesting characters in the area and Betty doesn’t skimp on telling how odd her neighbors are. Also, Betty told amusing tales about the animals on the farm, her husband Bob, and inanimate objects, like the wood-burning kitchen stove. She doesn’t leave herself out of this well-meaning, laughter-inducing critique either. There’s plenty of chuckles to go around.
It being a chicken farm, we have to talk about the chickens. Since Bob was often working away from the farm during the day, Betty was the main care-taker of all the beasties. I love her descriptions of all the loving labor she, and sometimes Bob, put into caring for these birds. There’s the daily cleaning of their houses, maintaining the fences around their yards, putting together their feed, tending to the chicks (which far too easily succumb to death), gathering the eggs, and regularly culling the flock. She very accurately describes how with any other beast, such care would be returned with affection. Not so with the chicken! So true, and I say that from a place of love for chickens.
While Betty often jokes, she also usually tells it like it is. I hope others enjoy this classic as much as I do.
I received a free copy of this book via The Audiobookworm.
The Narration: Heather Henderson did a great job with this book. I love how she carries the humor, telling it with a sense of irony where needed. She has a unique voice for each character and her male voices are quite believable.
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.
I was lucky enough to gain an audio copy of this and it made for very engrossing listening. The narration was spot on, I felt as though I was there shivering in that kitchen having a cup of coffee. When I started and realised it was about 9 hours long I thought it would take forever to hear it all when in fact I think I completed it in about 3 sessions because I was enthralled. I would happily listen to more stories by Betty.
I have always been fascinated by the 1940’s especially living ‘on the land’ and being fairly self sufficient. My parents had a chicken/egg business when I was a child and I have many happy memories of ‘collecting’ the eggs. However I live in the UK and I certainly wasn’t around in the 1940’s so that is where the similarities end!
Betty married and blindly followed her husband off to the bleak mountains in Washington state to follow his dream of owning a chicken ranch. This is her story told exactly how she lived it .. non-politically correct and with moments of what would be described these days as racism.
Any thought that it would be an easy existence rapidly disappeared as we hear about her struggling to light the stove, forgetting the kerosene, living by candlelight, scrubbing the laundry by hand, ironing with an old flat iron warmed briefly on aforementioned stove. Carrying buckets of water, walking 5 or more miles to her nearest neighbours not to mention the act of caring for the chickens!!
Their days would begin at 4am, cold, dark and monotonous. But Betty did as her husband told her. I enjoyed her descriptions of learning to sew and making anything crafty, she wasn’t naturally talented. She adored reading but books were not easy to come by.
Clear, concise narration with just the right inflection on the characters .. very engaging.
This is a wonderful portrayal of their life but remember it was a LONG time ago and some of the issues may be sensitive but it’s as it was. Betty was very scathing of a lot of people around her, there are some fabulously humorous parts but I’m not sure her humour was appreciated by all. If you are of a delicate disposition then possibly some of the references to how the chicken industry works is not ideal.
The Egg and I, written by Betty MacDonald, is entertaining, witty, heartening, and uplifting. Ms. MacDonald took difficult times in her life and made them appear fun by utilizing witty and dry humor throughout. The good, the bad, and the ugly of married life on a chicken farm in the late 1920’s is written with such flare that even today I think some people will relate to some of the situations.
The Egg and I is narrated by Heather Henderson and she performed the story so well that I thought Betty MacDonald herself was sitting in my living room telling the story. Henderson’s voice is soothing and hypnotic and took an already great book to an utterly outstanding book! The ‘voice’ of Pa Kettle was perhaps my favorite, but the ‘voices’ of all the characters were distinctive and enjoyable to listen to. Ms. Henderson is a new narrator for me, but I will definitely search out more titles narrated by her in the future - especially the other books written by Betty MacDonald.
Overall, this was a fun book to listen to and I found myself laughing out loud throughout. The Egg and I is extremely well-written with charming and delightful characters and is one audio book that I will listen to again and again.
Story – 4 stars
Performance – 5 stars
Overall – 4.5 stars
Pop Culture Duchess
I’ve wanted to read The Egg & I for several years, ever since I found out that my grandmother and grandfather had a small farm in Port Orchard, around the same time Betty MacDonald had the chicken ranch in Port Townsend (they would have been 60 miles apart, but experiencing similar challenges and beauty). My grandparents (all of them) died before I reached age 13, so I ever had a chance to know them as adults. It felt like reading this book would give me a better understanding, in some way, of who my grandmother was.
So when Audiobookworm Promotions advertised the release of it in audiobook format for the first time ever, I jumped at the chance. This is the kind of story very well-suited to an audiobook. The wry humor falls in the same storytelling vein as authors like Garrison Keillor, so listening to it was breezy and fun.
It’s always interesting to experience an actual historic novel- that is, written by someone living in that era, with all the ideals of the era and no consideration that these values may be incorrect. Historical fiction is fun, but always written from a modern perspective, so it lacks the raw punch of true historic accounts. Listening to Betty’s understanding (aka society’s expectation) of what it means to be a wife, her offhand racist comments toward First Nations, and her exasperation with the “current fad” of chicken ranching was both awkward and honest. Knowing this could have easily been my grandmother, I wanted to show her that she, too, could have wants and needs apart from catering to her husband. But, of course, that was the era.
Slight cringe-worthy moments aside, the dry wit applied to this memoir makes it fun. And it doesn’t romanticize the self-suficient country life or the area. It seems an apt read, given the rise of homesteading. And of course, listening to it fortified my resolve to never homestead.
I recommend it for fans of memoirs, the 1940s, homesteading and country/ranch life, western Washington, and dry humor. And I definitely recommend it in audiobook format.
"The moment it finished I started listening again!"
I have loved this book for about 45 years and got many family & friends addicted to it. Betty MacDonald and Jane Austen may seem an unlikely sisterhood but they have got me through some very difficult times between them! I couldn't believe my luck when Audible offered a recording and was concerned the immediacy of the humour might not come across in a reading. I had no need to worry - it is a brilliant reading and the book transfers to audio with ease. In fact the moment I finished listening to it I started listening all over again and have just finished the second hearing.
The Betty MacDonald books are fairly unique - very humorous, perfectly capturing the atmosphere and outlooks of their era, with vivid characterisation and deceptively well written with a fluid, easy to read (or listen) style. The descriptions (especially of the scenery) land you right in the centre of the book - there is nobody else like Betty MacDonald, unique! Who else would write so brilliantly about egg farming or recuperating from tuberculosis (The Plague and I) or high unemployment (Anybody Can Do Anything)?
Not a reader I had come across but she is amazing - she brings out the fact that Betty was brought up to be a lady which makes her misadventures and tribulations even funnier - imagine Margo from The Good Life suddenly finding herself running a chicken farm! The characterisation is vivid without being cartoonish, her pronunciation of certain words is (to my English ears) delightful and you can tell she is having a ball reading this book and is delighted to share it with you! Her reading is heartfelt, droll and wry. As Juliet Stevenson is to Jane Austen on audio so Heather Henderson is to Betty MacDonald - and there is no higher praise!
I laughed inwardly through most of it and aloud at quite a few moments. It is a total delight but it isn't all perpetual sunshine - the terrible forest fire towards the end is captured brilliantly as is the boredom and loneliness of life on the chicken ranch.
I understand the reader is going to record Betty's three other autobiographical books - the sooner the better! I can't wait!
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