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Anybody Can Do Anything (Betty MacDonald Memoirs #3)

4.26 of 5 stars 4.26  ·  rating details  ·  369 ratings  ·  38 reviews
One would suppose that during the Depression there wasn't much to laugh about in America. But one would be wrong. This book takes up Betty's story before she'd had any success as a writer - when she went back to live with her mother. With a failed chicken farm and marriage behind her, Betty was desperate to make a living in a country without any jobs. Luckily she had her s...more
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Published April 1st 2005 by George Mann Books (first published 1950)
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Ginny Messina
Not only do I love this book, but I love my copy of this book. It was published by The Book Club at 121 Charing Cross Road, London W.C2 in 1951 and was the property of the Garrowhill Post Office Library in Scotland. (Thank you paperbackswap!)

This covers the period in Betty MacDonald’s life that falls between The Egg and I and The Plague and I, and takes place during the 1930s. It’s funny like all of MacDonald’s books, and also very cozy. Leaving behind her husband and her lonely life on an isola...more
Stephanie
Sep 04, 2007 Stephanie rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone who is out of work
When you're looking for work (and as a freelance writer, that's nearly 90% of the time), you need to stay positive. Betty MacDonald's ANYBODY CAN DO ANYTHING is a surefire cure for the job blues. It's her account of scrounging for work during the Depression, when she was newly divorced with 2 kids (in 1929, no less!) and went back home to Seattle to live with her wonderfully large, zany family.

All of Betty's books -- including The Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle series -- hold a special place in my heart. Sh...more
Barbara Mader
I'm surprised this isn't already in my list, as I've read this several times. I find Betty MacDonald's autobiographical books compelling on a variety of levels. I don't know whether, had I known her, we would have been friends--I'm not certain I would have trusted her, and she probably would have found me dull. Nonetheless, I admire her writing, I am fascinated by her descriptions of people and places, and in this book I get the bonus of reading her experiences in Depression Era Seattle.

My favor...more
Lucie Novak
I loved this book as well as her other ones, starting with The Egg and I.
The funny thing is that in Czechoslovakia, almost every reading woman of my generation read those books several times, and all my friends still quotes from them. When I emigrated, we put books in boxes for friends to post to us, serious literature, Czech or translations from other languages than English- we knew the English language books will be available in England or USA where we were going to emigrate.
But picking one bo...more
Rachel Terry
I loved the Mrs. Piggle Wiggle books growing up, and my kids have loved them, too. But this book was so fun because MacDonald wrote it for adults. It's a memoir about her life with her family during the Depression. Her older sister Mary was always getting strange jobs for family members and reminding them that "anybody can do anything."

I think what I liked most about this book was the funny descriptions of people. Here's an example: "Clara, a little blonde dressed in yellow, was so sallow, so na...more
V. Briceland
Of all Betty MacDonald's comic memoirs, Anybody Can Do Anything is perhaps the most unfocused. The book takes on the years after those chronicled in The Egg and I, as MacDonald fled that unhappy marriage to make a life for herself in the bosom of her family with two young daughters in tow. It focuses primarily on the primal force of Mary Bard, MacDonald's older sister, whose can-do moxie propelled MacDonald into unsuitable job after job. It's tough not to be a touch cynical about the book's conc...more
Stacy
Betty MacDonald is the author of "The Egg and I" and this book continues where that one leaves off. Still in the Pacific Northwest, Betty leaves her unhappy marriage and chicken farm to move in with her Mother and siblings still at home in Seattle. These are her hilarious adventures of finding work during the depression. They're hilarious because her sister is constantly signing her up for jobs or throwing her into projects that Betty has no previous experience for and the results are amusing. A...more
Esther
Fun memoirs about Betty and her family's experience during the Depression. As with all of Betty's autobiographies, this book is full of haphazard stories and a witty perspective that portray an otherwise gloomy existence into a beaming and hilarious lesson on attitude.

Some side thoughts:

This may be of particular interest for anyone looking to find cultural or historical insight into the past. Betty gives some personal perspective on things such as the early involvement of women and minorities i...more
Shelley
Betty left her husband at the start of the Depression and took her two young girls to go back to live her with mother and sisters. Her sister Mary was in charge of getting everyone jobs, which she did. Often. Because Mary was very good at finding jobs, just not necessarily jobs that matched people's skills, with hilarious results. While it seems rather terrifying to live like that, it really was a joy to read.
Tracy
Betty Macdonald (author of the Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle books) humorously remembers the days when she was a divorced mother of two, living with her mother and sisters in Seattle, during the Depression. The title comes from the positive attitude of Betty's sister, Mary, who believed that Anybody (especially Betty) Can Do Anything. Mary spends her time finding jobs and vocations for her sisters (especially Betty), and Betty often winds up in uncomfortable, and sometimes dangerous, work situations. This...more
Patricia
Jul 20, 2008 Patricia rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone who appreciates personal observations
Recommended to Patricia by: Christine Drews
Magnificent read - this book will have you exhilarated with laughter before you're done. Betty MacDonald writes about life in 1929-1930's in San Francisco - how there was always coffee on, but not much else. Families going to neighborhood recitals for an evening's entertainment - and having to creep out the back way because they were howling with laughter at the finished production. Going on job interviews with a man who only wanted to talk about "loff", and arranging geologic maps according to...more
Amber the Human
Having read all of the Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle books, along with Nancy and Plum, I started in on MacDonald's 'adult' books. I put The Egg and I on hold at the library, picked it up when it arrived, and was promptly turned off my all the negativity about Native Americans in the book. I never got past the first chapter before it was due. I assumed that this book was a children's book I hadn't gotten to yet, but that turned out not to be the case. I started reading it and wasn't turned off and found her...more
Sue
Although I found some of the episodes funny, the book was of its time and I found some of the descriptions of people's disabilities offputting. Interesting descriptions of ordinary people surviving the depression though.
Joy
Betty MacDonald part 3
For some reason I thought this was going to be about her battle with depression (especially after spending a year in the tuberculosis hospital) - today I realized it was about her adventures getting and keeping a job during the Depression - I'm half way through the book and was wondering when she was going to start writing about being depressed, she seems so happy!! haha, I'm dumb. :) I try not to read the summaries because they can ruin the book, I guess they come in handy...more
Catherine
It's interesting to compare Betty MacDonald, as she presents herself in this memoir of the Great Depression, and her most famous character, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle. Betty lacks the self-assurance of Mrs. P-W, and she isn't as ready with the perfect answer as Mrs. P-W ALWAYS is. What both do share is a terrific wittiness, and now I want to go back and read the precursors to this book, "The Egg and I", and "The Plague and I", and give the Piggle-Wiggle books a brand new look. I don't know what to make...more
Joyce
This comic memoir of MacDonald's life in Seattle in the 1930s and 40s reveals how her family survived the depression. The main focus are the jobs she took when they all lived together--her two daughters as well as her sisters, mother and brother--in a large house near the University District. She also wrote the funny book "The Egg and I" which was made into a hilarious movie starring Fred MacMurray ("My Three Sons") and screwball comedy queen Claudette Colbert. I'll be buying all four memoirs of...more
Kirstin
Her memoir continues - - - she left the chicken farm and her husband and she and her children move in with her mom and sister in Seattle during the depression years of the 1930's. They were a VERY resourceful family and managed to make the best of things, even with very little money. The opening sentence pretty much summarizes the book - - - "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, es...more
Tom
The right book at the right time. The woman behind Ma & Pa Kettle is more than just a failed farmer; she's a failed receptionist, a failed secretary, a failed photography tinter, etc., mostly buoyed by her sister's unending (and often unwanted) help. It's a nice description of Depression-era Seattle (though I could've done without the gratuitous drunken Indian anecdote and the half dozen references to white slavery), and good motivation for those still struggling to find their calling in tou...more
Stephie Jane Rexroth


"I wanted some sort of very steady job with a salary, and duties mediocre enough to be congruent with my mediocre ability. I had in mind a combination of janitress, slow typist and file clerk. Not for a moment did Mary entertain any such humble ideas. She had in mind for me any job up to and including the President of the United States."
Wendy
Jun 04, 2010 Wendy marked it as to-read
Betty MacDonald is the author of the Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle series of children's books. I loved reading these books when I was a kid.

I've heard several people say they like to read her autobiography when they need a lift because it's a very positive (and funny)book. That earns it a spot on my to-be-read list.
Melissa
One of my favorite authors--and the only one of her non-fiction books that I hadn't yet read.
Wish that the stories were a bit more linear (there was a bit of bouncing around), but it is laugh out loud funny and a great perspective on the Great Depression.
Everyone should read Betty.
Lillian
I have read and collected every book Betty MacDonald ever wrote. I love her style and humor. This book is interesting in following an office worker in the Depression years. I read the book several years ago and just got it out for a re-read.
Andrea
Didn't like this one as much as her other books. Seemed to be mainly a laundry list of jobs her wacky sister Mary obtained for author Betty during the Depression (that Betty wasn't really qualified to do) and the pranks and hijinks that ensued.
Allison
A fun read, though definitely dated. It was interesting to read descriptions of Seattle form the 1930s. I would recommend this book to anyone who grew up reading "Bells on their toes", especially if you also have spent time in Seattle.
E
If you are from the Puget Sound area, you have to read Betty MacDonald! You almost wish you had a sister helping you find a job during the Great Depression. Her wit and style are irresistible. Had to read it again after 25 years.
Linda
Mar 01, 2008 Linda rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Everyone
Recommended to Linda by: Jane Lewis
Shelves: favorites
This book is a hoot! It really does have a surprise ending, and the adventure of getting to it is unforgettable. It's a tribute to sisters, in its own mischievous way. I kept my husband up at night laughing at this one.
Amanda
Jul 24, 2008 Amanda rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Amanda by: Rachel Matteson
Shelves: 2008-reads
I loved Betty MacDonald's explanations of what her family experienced in Seattle during the Depression. She has such a fun way of describing situations that I was thoroughly entertained through the entire book.
Kyla
Obsessed, I tell you! Did you know she's from Seattle? and frauded her way through the Depression while single Momming two kids? Then became a huge success by publishing her first novel? Pretty cool.
Laura
A recounting of the jobs her charismatic sister drags her into during the Depression. Again, I felt like I was reading a book meant for old ladies, but I don't care - I enjoyed every page!
Branwen
mít takovou rodinu jako ona, zvládnu taky cokoliv... člověk si uvědomí, že vlastně nikdy není tak zle, aby se to nějak nezvládlo a že je vlastně úplně zbytečný nějak se trápit
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13369
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 ne...more
More about Betty MacDonald...
Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle Hello, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle's Magic Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle's Farm The Egg and I

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