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The Egg and I

by Betty MacDonald

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1,0563313,793 (3.87)126
The author relates the joys and frustrations of life on a poultry farm in the mountains of Washington.
  1. 00
    Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons (RidgewayGirl)
    RidgewayGirl: City girl transplanted to the country with hilarious results.
  2. 00
    Dear Enemy by Jean Webster (RidgewayGirl)
    RidgewayGirl: A similar humor imbues this fiction novel.
  3. 00
    Diary of a Provincial Lady by E. M. Delafield (Bjace)
    Bjace: Seems odd, but both Delafield and MacDonald were city gals transplanted to country situations and their reactions and sense of humor were similar.
  4. 00
    The road to Andorra by Shirley Deane (cbl_tn)
  5. 00
    Hen and the Art of Chicken Maintenance: Reflections on Raising Chickens by Martin Gurdon (bertilak)
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» See also 126 mentions

English (31)  Danish (2)  All languages (33)
Showing 1-5 of 31 (next | show all)
The book I read was a lovingly worn, hardcover library copy which was published in 1945. The pages were yellowed and it had the musty, nostalgic smell of a book that had survived the shelves for 75 years. This humorous collection of Betty MacDonald's experiences on a rustic chicken ranch in the Pacific Northwest which she owned with her husband in the early 1940's, was written in a witty and sarcastic style that was entertaining yet dated. By today's standards she was racist, smoked a million cigarettes, and was sharply critical. But if you can put today's standards in perspective you will find much to laugh about as she amusingly describes the weather, her work on the farm, the animals, her neighbors, traveling salesmen, and moonshiners. While this was entertaining, it just got to be too much of a good thing. These experiences would have been more enjoyable to read intermittently as articles in the New Yorker instead of an entire book. Her writing style exaggerated her experiences and although her descriptions were cleverly funny, a little went a long way. David Sedaris and Roz Chast are both successful and entertaining modern day humorists who carry on MacDonald's legacy of understated sarcasm. If you are lucky enough to happen across The Egg and I, I recommend you read at least a few chapters because even though I've been critical, you will definitely be entertained. ( )
  PhyllisReads | Mar 23, 2020 |
Betty has a strong voice and her life as the educated wife of a chicken farmer has lots of interesting interludes - but the tone of the book didn't resonate with me... it felt too much like sarcastic complaining? Whatever it was, the tone got in the way of being able to enjoy the peek into such a different way of life. ( )
  tjsjohanna | Dec 2, 2019 |
I love local memoir, but I'm not so keen on unchecked hatred of Native peoples.
( )
  sterlingfink | Sep 5, 2019 |
I got bored. Gave up. ( )
  MaryHeleneMele | May 6, 2019 |
And then winter settled down and I realized that defeat, like morale, is a lot of little things.

Betty MacDonald remembers the first two years of her marriage, in which she and her husband create and run a chicken ranch located in the wilds of Washington state. Originally published in 1945, the writing style reminded me of Jean Webster (who wrote Daddy-Long-Legs), with its mix of charm and dry wit. MacDonald finds the humor in any situation and is as willing to poke fun at herself as she is at the people around her. She has to fight to adjust to rural living and to the hardships and constant work involved, but she's game.

There is one aspect that mars this outrageously delightful memoir; MacDonald mixes in a large helping of racism aimed at the local Native Americans, which culminates in her being glad that their land was being taken from them. Even her husband asks her to take it down a notch, and given that the flaws she sees in them are exactly the same flaws she sees in many of the men around her, it's surprising that she never notices that she only sees white people as individually flawed. I'd like to give her the benefit of simply being a product of her own time, but as her own husband asks her to take it down a notch, it seems she was bigoted even by the standards of her time.

I loved this book until I didn't. I can see why it's been allowed to sink into obscurity and at the same time I'm sorry about that -- it's such a vivid, insightfully rendered picture of a specific time and place. ( )
3 vote RidgewayGirl | Feb 3, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 31 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (17 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Betty MacDonaldprimary authorall editionscalculated
Hertenstein, RenateTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Salvatore, AdaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Such duty as the subject owes the prince,
Even such a woman oweth to her husband.
—Shakespeare
Dedication
To my sister Mary, who has always believed that I can do anything she puts her mind to.
First words
Along with teaching us that lamb must be cooked with garlic and that a lady never scratches her head or spits, my mother taught my sister and me that it is a wife's bounden duty to see that her husband is happy in his work.
Kromě toho, že se jehněčí peče na česneku a že se dáma nikdy nedrbe na hlavě a neplivá na podlahu, vštěpovala maminka mým sestrám i mně, že svatosvatou povinností ženy je dbát a pečovat, aby její manžel byl spokojený ve své práci a ve svém povolání.
Quotations
Each time I looked out of a window or stepped out of doors, I was confronted by great, white, haughty peaks staring just above my head and doing their chilly best to make me realize that that was once a very grand neighbourhood and it was curdling their blood to have to accept 'trade'. We were there with our ugly little buildings and livestock, but, by God, they didn't have to associate with us or make us welcome. They, no doubt, would have given half their timer if they could have changed the locale to Switzerland and brushed us off with a nice big avalanche.
In case you are wondering why I didn't take a good book, settle down by the stove and shut-up, I would like to explain that Stove, as we called him, had none of the warm, friendly qualities ordinarily associated with the name. In the first place he was too old and, like some terrible old man, he had a big strong frame, a lusty appetite and no spirit of co-operation.
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The author relates the joys and frustrations of life on a poultry farm in the mountains of Washington.

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