Looking for Betty MacDonald

Looking for Betty MacDonald

The Egg, the Plague, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle, and I

Book - 2016
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"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, and The 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 her 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). 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 biography of this endearing Northwest storyteller, reveals the story behind the memoirs and the difference between the real Betty MacDonald and her literary persona."-- Provided by publisher.
Publisher: Seattle : University of Washington Press, [2016]
ISBN: 9780295999364
Branch Call Number: 813.54 MACDONAL BECKER
Characteristics: xx, 242 pages, 38 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations ; 23 cm


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Jul 23, 2018

I loved this book. Younger people may not have heard of Betty MacDonald, but I grew up reading her books: The Egg and I, the first and most famous; then The Plague and I, Anybody Can Do Anything, and Onions in the Stew. I believe that her children's books, the Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle books, are still in print.

Betty MacDonald's books were fascinating, hilarious, and realistic for their time. They provide a fascinating glimpse of life in the Northwest in the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s. If you read them, you end up feeling like her family is your family, or at least wishing that it was. This book's author was clearly as captivated by her story as I was, and took the time to research Betty's life and provide as complete a story as possible. Her books were written for publication in the 40's and 50's, and many of the sadder aspects of her life were left out or glossed over. This book fills in the gaps of the life story of a fascinating woman, one who I still think of today even though she died when I was a small child.

Oct 28, 2017

Kind of like a watered-down PhD thesis about the author with everything you really weren't sure you wanted to know, mixed in along with all the good stuff. I am a huge fan of "The Egg and I" and that part of the author's history was interesting, and the reason I borrowed this book.

It's easy to read between the lines of "The Egg and I" and see that her husband is probably abusive, but definitely an unlikely match for such a lively positive woman. So wanting to learn a little background, I read this background with interest and was more than satisfied with all the information this book brings to light. There isn't much more I really was interested in, as who is interested to this detail about anyone, really? It goes too deep, too personal, too much into detail that I don't even want to know about my own family members that I had to stop.

Sometimes the myth is better to have in your head than the reality. Now when I re-read "The Egg and I" I'll consider it a work of mostly fiction. And enjoy it more in this case.


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