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Onions in the Stew (Betty MacDonald Memoirs #4)

4.17  ·  Rating Details  ·  656 Ratings  ·  66 Reviews
The bestselling author of the American humor classic The Egg and I continues the adventure with this collection of tales about life on the fringe of the Western wilderness. Writing in the 1950s, Betty MacDonald, sophisticated and urbane, captivated readers with her observations about raising a family on an island in Puget Sound. As usual, humorist MacDonald is her own favo ...more
Hardback, 256 pages
Published 1955 by J. B. Lippincott Company
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(showing 1-30 of 1,087)
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Nancy L.
Oct 13, 2007 Nancy L. rated it it was amazing
Some people have comfort food. I have comfort books and this one is near the top of the list. I love Betty MacDonald and this is my favorite of all of her hilarious books. I probably read this book about every 12-18 months. She makes me laugh out loud and I only wish I could write half as well.
Sarah Homes
Feb 22, 2012 Sarah Homes rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone who needs reassurance that life happens to everyone
Recommended to Sarah by: My mum
Just simply my favourite book of all time. I go back to it time and time again, whether I want a good laugh, need cheering up, especially when I am feeling unwell, or simply becuse I haven't read it for a few months. The ultimate comfort read.

Something of a bible for me really, despite being set in late 1940s Pacific Northwest America. I always find something I can relate and find myself quoting Betty's words of wisdom at length on many an occasion. Somehow comforting to know that the daily chal
My family loves these books, and even a brief snippet from one always produces grins all around. This one has one of our most-quoted passages, in a chapter on food and cooking: "Another female household-hinter gave a recipe for a big hearty main dish of elbow macaroni, mint jelly, lima beans, mayonnaise and cheese baked until 'hot and yummy'. Unless my taste buds are paralyzed, this dish could be baked until hell freezes over and it might get hot but never 'yummy'." All we have to say is "bake u ...more
Mar 26, 2011 Marilyn rated it it was amazing
I double dog dare you to find a better author than Betty MacDonald. If you haven't read The Egg and I, drop whatever you're doing and lay hold of a copy. Onions in the Stew chronicles life on Vashon Island off of Seattle. Written in 1955 this book is spot on delightful. I'm going to copy her chapter on raising teenagers and hand it out like candy.
Ginny Messina
I feel a little bit of a sense of ownership regarding Betty MacDonald because her egg farm, on what is now called “Egg and I Road,” was just down the road from where I live on the Olympic Peninsula. But even if we weren’t linked by geography, I would love Betty! She was a wonderful and witty writer and it sounds like she was a very fun person. (She also was a friend to raccoons, which is something I really like in a person).

Onions in the Stew is a memoir of her life on the northwest’s lovely Vas
Aug 04, 2009 Impageturner rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This might still be my favorite book of all time, even though I first read it 30 years ago. It's a memoir of family life on an island in Puget Sound during and immediately after WWII. It evokes a specific time in American history, simple, optimistic, and wildly funny.
V. Briceland
Aug 06, 2012 V. Briceland rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Onions in the Stew stands out as Betty MacDonald's most mature and effortlessly humorous memoir. It's also seemingly the most unstructured of the four published in her lifetime. Whereas her previous volumes tackled the specific themes of egg farming, sanatorium life, and job hunting during the Great Depression, Onions is a simply a reflection upon life on Seattle's Vashon Island.

Of course, the simplicity is deceptive. Behind the stories of tides and gardens and page after page of ruminations on
Mar 05, 2011 Emily rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Found this in a used bookstore and the title intrigued me. Betty MacDonald would be a wonderful stand-up comedian. Some parts of this book were so funny, I had to run into the other room - book in hand - to read it out loud to another person.
Side note: I mentioned to my 83 yr old grandmother the other day that I was reading this book. When I mentioned the author, she said, "Oh, she was from aunt Anna used to babysit her daughters..." Small world!
Oct 03, 2014 Callum rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Read her. Read her. Read her. Read any of her books. She writes about nothing and you don't care - brilliantly funny.
William Brown
Jul 22, 2014 William Brown rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is my favorite of her books. I love them all and re-read them all the time.
Jul 30, 2014 Holly rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My mother and her sisters grew up on Vashon, well, they were summer girls. I was lucky enough to be a summer girl too.
Onions in the Stew is so Vashon in the 50s. Reading it reminded me of all the great times we had there.
The Beall Greenhouses mentioned in the book (orchids) was my uncle Fergie Beall's business. There are other people I knew in the book but many had names changed.
Betty knew how to capture the life and the feel of living on Vashon. It's like nothing else.
Jan 12, 2009 Julia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is a purely fun, relaxing read about Betty MacDonald's life on Vashon Island, in Puget Sound, with her family during and after World War 2. I don't know exactly why I like this book so much. She really just tells anecdotes about family life. But I really like this book a great deal.
Abbie Watters
Apr 08, 2016 Abbie Watters rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Just finished reading (for the hundredth time) the whole three books from Betty McDonald - "The Egg and I", "The Plague and I", and "Onions in the Stew". They were still as interesting as ever - in fact, more so for me since we now live off the southern end of Vashon Island. These books may be (at least part of) the reason we retired to the Pacific Northwest. I was struck, however, by how dated and politically INcorrect they are. Everybody smokes (and let's their children smoke), the Native Amer ...more
Bonnie Fazio
Love, love, love this. Love Betty MacDonald. Love The Egg and I. Love everything she wrote. But then, I am a person who would love to have lived in her era, deluded though that may seem.
I read "The Egg and I" many years ago, and I've loved "Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle" since my 6th-Grade teacher read it aloud in class, so I was up for reading more from Ms. MacDonald.
"Onions in the Stew" wasn't a great book, but it was entertaining. One of the most interesting things about it is seeing the cultural differences between the 1940's and now, along with the things that haven't changed. MacDonald complains that the music her girls listen to is just so much indistinguishable noise to her (I'm p
Apr 06, 2008 John rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bio-and-memoir
Humorous look at bringing up two kids on an island in the Puget Sound in the 40s/50s. The book is a continuous narrative, of sorts, but arranged more by theme (animals, gardening, etc.) near the end. Despite references to "Bendix" for washing machine (that's what's in the other drifting-away boat on the cover) etc., it's not particularly "dated" at all.
Tough book to get ahold of though - I ended up buying this copy online (not cheap!), rather than asking my library to request one via inter-libr
Andrew McClarnon
Mar 12, 2016 Andrew McClarnon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This cover less, slightly yellowing hard back has come here from my in-laws amongst a collection of "I am not sure what to do withs". Looking for something, anything, to read I thought I'd blow the dust off and have a go. I'd not heard of Betty MacDonald, and certainly never come across Vashon Island, so the whole thing has been a google fest of looking things up (didies for example). I've been shocked by the colour and vitality of the writing, and the life she describes. My image of the 40s and ...more
Amber the Human
Ha, everyone who has reviewed this book likes it, because it's an unlikely one to run across, meaning they've probably read MacDonald before. The book is ... interesting. Less cohesive than "Anybody Can Do Anything," but just as culturally intriguing. I don't think I'll be able to read "The Egg and I" (just too much racism) and the library doesn't have "The Plague and I" (I'll see if I can find it), and I'm not sure how involved she was in "Happy Birthday, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle," and I've read ever ...more
This hilarious book covers life on Vashon Island, Washington in the late 1940s, early 1950s. She, her girls and second husband move there from Seattle after purchasing a home and commence trying to make do without many amenities. She had the ability to make every ho-hum daily routine seem nutty and zany. An easy read.

One of her earlier memoirs of her life as a newlywed starting up a chicken farm in Chimacum, Washington, "The Egg and I," was made into a kooky movie starring Claudette Colbert and
Nov 20, 2012 Cathy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I began reading this book some time in October, but have been so busy with little time/ brain space to read properly. However, this was a delightful book and I enjoyed it very much. MacDonald's narrative is charming, wonderfully individual and fun. Definitely read other books if I am fortunate to come across any further titles. I found this book by chance, in my local Oxfam book store and bought it for the cover design and to use the paper in my artwork. Glad I did not tear it up but read it - w ...more
Tami Garrard
I have to admit that I laughed out loud A LOT reading this book. However, despite some other reviews that said it's not dated at all except the name of the washing machine, it is. I think I might have taken a whole star away because Betty made me cringe every time she lit up a cigarette in the house where her children live, and didn't seem to blink an eye if her young daughters also smoked. I KNOW it was different then, and I know that some people still do smoke in the car with their baby in the ...more
Kathleen Anderson
Jun 19, 2011 Kathleen Anderson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a fun book. I started it years ago in a hotel lobby! It was a Reader's Digest condensed book, and of course I couldn't take it with me. I've looked for a copy of it ever since, off and on. One of the draws of the book is that it takes place close to home, on Vashon Island. The book begins during WWII, so about that time period when the author was raising her two children. It's a hoot. Her descriptions remind me of a couple of friends of mine.
Jul 31, 2009 Kathy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Betty MacDonald is the 1940's & 50's version of Erma Bombeck. In this book she completely captures the quirks, humor, adventures and misadventures of a family living in a house by the water on Vashon Island in Puget Sound. It's been a long time since I read a book that made me laugh out loud at least a dozen times! Betty manages to convey some of life's deepest emotions and truths with incredible honesty and a spirit that embraces whatever life brings to her.
Oct 01, 2011 amelia rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Although not quite as entertaining as The Egg and I (also, without nearly as much questionable content, although there are still a few comments on race that made me uncomfortable), this was just what I was looking for in terms of a quick and funny read. I've been spending a lot of time in the bathtub recently (helps w/the lower back pain and all) and this was an excellent way to pass the time. It's also an interesting window into post-war life.
Linda Orvis
Mar 01, 2008 Linda Orvis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those who love to read humor
Recommended to Linda by: Jane Lewis
Shelves: favorites
During the writing of Onions, Betty, her husband and two daughters live on an island off the coast of Washington State. The food mentioned in this book sounds outrageously good. She introduced me to geoducks (pronounced gooeduck) and the pure pleasures of living with the Pacific Ocean at your doorstep. As in all her books, the familial relationships are pure humor.
Susan Henn
Feb 24, 2015 Susan Henn rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoirs-bios
2/2105 Betty MacDonald, author of the Mrs. PiggyWiggle books, wrote this autobiography about her years on Vashon Island during and after WWII. Frankly, I was not drawn to the author, I did not find her humor funny, and I couldn't connect the person she presented in her autobiography with the person who wrote such delightful children's stories.
Paul Hollingsworth
While not quite as enjoyable as The Egg and I, this was still an enjoyable read. I suspect I might appreciate its humor more after my children are teenagers, since raising her two teenage girls is the focus of this book. Going to check the library catalog and see if they have any of her other books.
Sep 20, 2007 Annette rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone living in a remote location
Shelves: damnfunny
A pretty obscure book, but if you can find it, it's pretty entertaining. I lived on this island for several years during high school - in a house about two blocks away from the author's. I really enjoy the author's writing style - whether she's writing children's fiction or autobiographical narratives.
Nov 30, 2007 Magda rated it really liked it
Shelves: own, humor
This was one of the funniest books I ever read. Only when I came to put it on goodreads did I realize that the author also penned the "Mrs. Piggle-wiggle" books. This is humor in the genre of Erma Bombeck and Peg Bracken, but still somehow original, and much more substantive in material.
Linda Watson
Jul 20, 2010 Linda Watson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love this book and all Betty MacDonald's writing. I must have read it hundreds of times and it is always fresh and enjoyable.

I also love that there are other people in the world who love Betty too!

I have put a finish date for the book, but in reality I will never finish it!
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The first book written by Betty MacDonald, The Egg and I , rocketed to the top of the national bestseller list in 1945. Translations followed in more than 30 languages, along with a series of popular movies. In the wake of World War II, the hilarious accounts of MacDonald's adventures as a backwoods farmer's wife in Chimacum Valley were a breath of fresh air for readers around the world. On the n ...more
More about Betty MacDonald...

Other Books in the Series

Betty MacDonald Memoirs (5 books)
  • The Egg and I (Betty MacDonald Memoirs, #1)
  • The Plague and I (Betty MacDonald Memoirs, #2)
  • Anybody Can Do Anything (Betty MacDonald Memoirs, #3)
  • Who, Me? (Betty MacDonald Memoirs, #1-4)

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