Saturday, June 20, 2015

SUMMER READING: BRING BACK BETTY MACDONALD!

BETTY MOWING THE LAWN
ON VASHON ISLAND, WA

I could make a whole career out of plugging authors "no-one" reads, or in this case reads anymore.

One such author is the subject of this week's arts and culture column--which begins like this.

"As popular in her day as David Sedaris — and every bit as funny — Betty MacDonald (1908-1958) retains a small but devoted following of which I’m a proud member.

She’s perhaps best known as the author of “The Egg and I” (1945), the book that gave rise to the characters Ma and Pa Kettle.

But as the gap between the rich and the poor grows ever wider, the book I’m turning to again is called “Anybody Can Do Anything” (1950).

It’s about Seattle during the Depression and Betty’s wacky family — they’re all back home, living with their chain-smoking, novel-reading, mild-mannered mother — which is headed up by the oldest sibling, Mary, and how Mary gets Betty, who is divorced with two young daughters, a succession of odd jobs for which Betty is completely and utterly unqualified.

Here’s the conversation that ensues after Mary announces to Betty that she’s volunteered her for a job 'at the Western Insurance Company being private secretary to a perfectly darling man named Welton Brown' ”...

READ THE WHOLE PIECE HERE.

3 comments:

  1. I loved the book The Plague and I. It's about the year she had to spend in a sanatorium for TB. You wouldn't think it, but it a warm and humorous book.

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  2. I've read several Betty MacDonald books, but one that I particularly loved was The Plague and I. My mother's sister fell victim to tb around the same time as Betty (during the Great Depression), and it gave me some insight into how the disease was feared and treated at that time. I never knew my aunt as she died of the disease long before I was born.

    A few months ago, I hoped to reread the book, but it has disappeared from our library bookshelf, and the cost of purchasing a copy is just too much for me to justify.

    I agree with your assessment of Betty MacDonald's writing, Heather. She was a gifted writer.

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  3. Oh yeah, The Plague and I is great, as is Onions in the Stew. I re-read one or the other of them every couple of years and they never fail to cheer. Staying in the loft of her old barn and looking at the same view of Puget Sound she did was an absolute thrill.

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