Narrator: Heather Henderson
Publisher: Post Hypnotic Press Inc. (2016)
Length: 8 hours 30 minutes
Betty MacDonald returns us to her humorous world, this time during the Great Depression in Seattle. This book is set after her tales of the chicken farm (captured in The Egg and I) and covers her various job fiascoes before and after her stint in a tuberculosis sanatorium (as told in The Plague and I).
Betty is the second oldest child in a family of 4 daughters and 1 son. Her older sister Mary was always getting the younger kids to do what she wanted, either by trickery or by simply assuming they would do so and telling them all the reasons it’s in their best interest as well. This book starts off with Betty’s earliest years and all those school-year pranks and hi-jinks her sister Mary organized. For me, these were cute, quaint stories but didn’t interest me nearly as much as her other two books.
The book then skips ahead several years to directly after Betty’s failed marriage and her coming home from the chicken farm to live with her mom and siblings, bringing her two toddling daughters. I found these little stories more to my liking. Basically, it’s all about Betty and Mary, and occasionally one of the other siblings, finding and keeping work during the Depression int eh 1930s in Seattle. Mary was somewhat of a genius at getting her siblings jobs. Basically, she would claim that she or one of her siblings had the skills that whatever employer was looking for. She often stretched the truth and in those cases where she lied, she did make an effort to get either herself or her sibling acquainted with the skill before reporting to work.
Betty rarely had steady work; either the position was temporary from the beginning or the business closed. Her bosses could be a terror as well, acting like temperamental children with the power to fire people. Sometimes the men hiring secretaries were looking for ladies with special skills, skills that Mary and Betty weren’t willing to take on in a hired position. The there are her funny stories of going into debt and how she managed to get out of it. Yet through it all, Betty tells these tales with such humor. I’ve really enjoyed that about these books. She doesn’t paint a rosy picture, instead telling it how it is yet she maintains the ability to laugh at the situation (and sometimes herself).
My favorite story in this one is about a mysterious young lady that joined Betty in the task of folding flyers and sealing them in envelopes for mailing out later. This young lady seemed lonely but was almost assuredly disturbed. She stalked Betty and made both friendly little gestures and mean, even threatening, gestures and comments. It was a very strange encounter that went on for a few weeks. It became one of those unsolved mysteries turned family joke that her family like to pick over on boring evening.
This was a fun book but I prefer both The Egg and I and The Plague and I. With both of those books, there was a clear story arc. This book was a series of anecdotal tales tied together by Betty’s or Mary’s presence. While an enjoyable book, it didn’t carry the weight of the other two.
I received a free copy of this book via The Audiobookworm.
The Narration: Heather Henderson seemed to have some fun with this book. She’s still a great Betty MacDonald, but she’s also a great Mary Bard. I loved the play between these two sisters and Hendersen does a great job of bringing that to life in the narration.
What I Liked: Amusing; 1930s Depression; the variety of jobs; the bosses; the mystery envelope stuffing lady; Betty’s family.
What I Disliked: Not really a dislike, but this book didn’t carry the same punch for me as her other two books.
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About Heather Henderson:
Heather Henderson is a voice actress and audiobook narrator with a 20-year career in literary and performing arts. Her narrations include the NYT bestseller (now also a feature film) Brain on Fire; and Sharon Creech’s The Boy on the Porch, which won her an Earphones award and was named one of the Best Children’s Audiobooks for 2013 by Audiofile Magazine. She earned her Doctor of Fine Arts degree at the Yale School of Drama, and is co-curator of AudioEloquence.com, a pronunciation research site for the audiobook industry. In 2015, Heather was a finalist for a Voice Arts Award (Outstanding Narration, Audiobook Classics), for her narration of Betty MacDonald’s The Egg and I.
“The best thing about the Depression was the way it reunited our family and gave my sister Mary a real opportunity to prove that anybody can do anything, especially Betty.”
After surviving both the failed chicken farm – and marriage – immortalized in The Egg and I, Betty MacDonald returns to live with her mother and desperately searches to find a job to support her two young daughters. With the help of her older sister Mary, Anybody Can Do Anything recounts her failed, and often hilarious, attempts to find work during the Great Depression.
About the Author Betty MacDonald:
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, andThe 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 MacDonald’s 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).
Author 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 official biography of this endearing Northwest storyteller, reveals the story behind the memoirs and the difference between the real Betty MacDonald and her literary persona.
Find out more on Wikipedia
Connect with the Publisher Post Hypnotic Press