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
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Alan on 03-09-15

The moment it finished I started listening again!

Would you listen to The Egg and I again? Why?

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.

What other book might you compare The Egg and I to, and why?

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)?

What does Heather Henderson bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

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!

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

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.

Any additional comments?

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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3 of 3 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By joan mcghee on 09-06-18

Old world

My 93 yo mother remembered her mother reading this book in the 60's and enjoyed the descriptive and memorable stories.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Rebecca L. White on 23-11-16

This brings back memories.

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.
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5 of 5 people found this review helpful

4 out of 5 stars
By Jean on 25-08-15

Oh, I remember those August canning days.

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.

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15 of 17 people found this review helpful

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