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Publisher's Summary

Stepping back into a time when fledgling advertising agencies were active partners with consumers, Terry Ryan tells how her mother kept the family afloat by writing jingles and contest entries. Mom's winning ways defied the church, her alcoholic husband, and antiquated views of housewives. To her, flouting convention was a small price to pay when it came to securing a happy home for her six sons and four daughters. Evelyn, who would surely be a Madison Avenue executive if she were working today, composed her jingles not in the boardroom, but on the ironing board.

Evelyn Ryan won every appliance her family ever owned by entering contests. It wasn't just the winning that was miraculous; it was the timing. If a toaster died, one was sure to arrive in the mail from a forgotten contest. Graced with a rare appreciation for life's inherent hilarity, Evelyn turned every financial challenge into an opportunity for fun and profit.

From her frenetic supermarket shopping spree - worth $3,000 today - to her clever entries worthy of Erma Bombeck, Dorothy Parker, and Ogden Nash, Evelyn Ryan's story shows how a winning spirit will triumph over the poverty of circumstance.

©2001 Terry Ryan, All Rights Reserved; (P)2001 Simon & Schuster Inc., All Rights Reserved; AUDIOWORKS Is an Imprint of Simon & Schuster Audio Division, Simon & Schuster Inc.

Critic Reviews

"If Mrs. Ryan were starting out today, she'd be president of J. Walter Thompson tomorrow." (The New York Times)
"This well-told, suspenseful tale...has a fiction-worthy climax that will keep listeners laughing even as they're glued to Ryan's tale." (Publishers Weekly)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

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  • Overall

Totally Delightful!

I had read Terry Ryan's book when it was newly published and enjoyed it very much. When I saw that it was available via Audible, I never hesitated to purchase it and listen to Terry read it--in fact, I think I'll probably download it again and again. The writing is refreshing and truly a work to honor her mother, father and siblings. I recommend this to anyone who wants to hear an amazing story of a family growing up in the fifties in hard times.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

When will I learn???

99% of the time, I am disappointed when an author reads their own book, and this time was no exception. I'm sure I would have loved this book if I'd read it (rather than listened to it), but the reader, who is the author, is the most monotone reader EVER. It is a humorous memoir, but she manages to suck the lifeblood from the story at every turn. I also think the jingles that are an integral part of the story are just better to look at on a page than to listen to, ironically, as many of them have word plays that you really ought to slow down to truly appreciate. Finally, it is totally my fault, but I didn't realize this was an abridged version, which just ain't the real thing. Save your $ and check this one out of your local library in print.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Pat
  • Spring Hill, FL, USA
  • 11-07-05

Heatwarming and Absorbing

I recomend this read to anyone. Once you begin you will not want to stop so set it aside for a road trip, etc. It takes you back to a time when integrity and resourcefullness were more common and lends you to hope that this could happen again. If you are in a slump this book can do nothing but pick you up. We could all take a lesson from Evelyn. I hope this will become a movie.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Darcy
  • San Francisco, CA, USA
  • 05-20-07

The story is great

but Terry Ryan is not a particularly good reader. I read the first few chapters of this book at a friend's house when it was newly published and always meant to finish it. I'm generally not a fan of abridged works, but in this case the abridged memoir trims some of the repetition of the original. The only real problem is that Terry Ryan's reading of her work is never particularly engaging and at times very irritating as she reads at a very dull monotone.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • kit
  • Edgewood, KY, United States
  • 03-19-08

Wonderful! But better in print.

Such a charming story... especially for anyone who grew up in a big family in the 50's. (Though I think people of all ages will enjoy the spunk and wit of Evelyn Ryan, recounted so well by her daughter) I wish though, that the author had sprung for a narrator rather than reading it herself. Terry Ryan's unprofessional monotone detracted from her good writing. Also, because some of the poems and jingles use "made-up" or convoluted language, they might be more easily understood in print.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Thor
  • LaPorte, IN, USA
  • 02-02-08

Inspirational!

One of the most inspirational and uplifting books I have read (listened to) in a long time. Highly recommended!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Pamela
  • St. Louis, Mo, United States
  • 10-04-13

A strong woman comes in many packages.

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Yes, have reommended it to many. Its a story of a woman making the best out of a bad situation coming out in the end the winner in more ways than one.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Evelyn of course. A person who had dreams that were never going to come to be, married to a man she really didn't love and forced to marry due to pregnancy, having a multitude of children and being the main breadwinner without having a real job is a person to be celebrated.

What about Terry Ryan’s performance did you like?

Terry lived it, she knew her subject better than a professional reader did and her emotions came through brilliantly. A great writer and storyteller, she will be missed.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

A lot of anger, frustration,tears and yes laughter, mostly due to Evelyn's great sense of humor.

Any additional comments?

This isn't a well known book, the movie was less known, but it is worth a read. Give it a chance.

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

A Fun Listen

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

If a friend wanted a quick, light read, this would be the one. The author presents the eccentric mother with warmth and love.

Any additional comments?

Fun and fluffy! Good for a light-hearted listen!

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Wish I had the Unabridged

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

I enjoyed how the writer told the story of her mom's and family's unique way of survival. I wanted to know more about the characters and how the author's mom kept the family together through her prize winnings.

  • Overall

Loved it!

This is a quick listen, very interesting characters. True story of a mom who had to enter contests in the 1950s to make money for her family to survive. Good writing, good characters...a bit sappy at times, however. Narration is good as well. I would recommend this one.