Mama's Bank Account
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Mama's Bank Account

4.18 of 5 stars 4.18  ·  rating details  ·  1,243 ratings  ·  192 reviews
The charming adventures of the Mama of an immigrant Norwegian family living in San Francisco. This bestselling book inspired the play, motion picture, and television series I Remember Mama.
Paperback, 160 pages
Published March 20th 1968 by Mariner Books (first published 1943)
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Sometimes when I am down I long for the era of polite books for grownups - books that don't need sex, violence, heartbreak, or 50-cent metaphors to entertain. Forbes' memoiresque style is sweet as she shares the travails of a Norwegian immigrant family in San Francisco. The title story is the nicest. Big thanks to the librarian who stuck this old book club edition (sternly marked No Renewals with a long-ago stamp) on the end-cap display for me to find. There is something friendly about paper so...more
I have to preface my review with something my sister wrote in her review: "Mama is everything in a person that I wake up every morning wishing I could be. Also, if I were ever to try and write a book, this is the kind of book I would want it to be."

Mama seriously was amazing. This book is autobiographical; the author is writing about her family and Mama is the author's mother. The book was published 1943. I was impressed throughout the novel by Mama's common sense, wisdom, love, and work ethic.

Nov 14, 2013 Teri rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Teri by: Carbon Canyon Ward Book Club
"I Remember Mama" is one of my Mom's favorite movies. She bought me a copy of it and for some reason I have not watched it yet. I came across this book that was the inspiration for the movie and play and tv series. I loved it! My Dad's father is from Norway, so I loved that Mama and Papa are from Norway. The stories are sweet and memorable. Love feel good books. I read some of it to my husband and he enjoyed it as well.
This was such a PLEASANT book to read! Thanks to my sister for sharing her copy with me. It was the most basic story of human love and kindness displayed by a mother towards her family. Amazing how a little love and guidance can go such a long way! Required reading in my opinion!!
Delightful! I was humbled by how patiently, yet determinedly, this mother worked toward solutions for her family's needs. She sacrificed, but without feeling martyred. Very memorable...

“Her disposition became, if possible , even meaner, and her vocabulary consisted entirely of cat expletives.”—page 162

Kathryn Forbes’s fictionalized memoirs, ‘Mama’s Bank Account,’ is a collection of engaging, charming and heart-warming stories from a simpler time and place; 1920s, in s San Francisco boarding house.

Recommendation: An enjoyable read for all ages.

“Life is good,” she said contentedly. “Life is so good.”—page 176

Harcourt, Brace & World, Inc., hardcover edition,...more
Read this book when I was sixteen (and again 41 years later a few days ago) after seeing the movie "I Remember Mama" (a wonderful flick with Irene Dunne as Mama, Oscar Homolka as the marvelously unkempt and angry--but kind--Onkel Chris and a surprise appearance by Edgar Bergen) upon which it was based. The book is different from the movie, but it has its own calm charm. Growing up as a Norwegian immigrant in San Francisco at the turn of the 20th century, Katrin learns the lessons we all hope to...more
Alexa SOF2014
Mama's Bank Account tells the story of how a Norwegian mother Americanizes her family with her charm and understanding. This heartfelt book takes place in San Francisco in 1910. Mama is the main protagonist. We follow her life and the Hansen family by trying to combine traditional values with Norwegian values. Many issues are touched on such as, finances, family relationships, and assimilation. The last story in the novel takes place 10 years after the first story and shows how the next generati...more
Elizabeth K.
Oct 24, 2009 Elizabeth K. rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Elizabeth by: Violent Study Club book
Shelves: 2007-new-reads
This was a book for the BT book club, so very up that alley. It's a collection of memoirs/stories/stories based on memoirs written by a daughter about her family, recent immigrants to San Francisco. Well, recent at the time, I believe most of them took place in the 1910s and 20s. They're all very droll and usually illustrate some sort of moral, which is nice, but this is one of those books where when you take a closer look, it's a little amazing how simple the stories seem and yet how absolutely...more
Jan 16, 2011 Doreen rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone, all ages
Recommended to Doreen by: no one
This is a sweet story of a Norwegian family living in San Francisco. I think the time period is the 1920's or 30's. Mama is the family's driving force, as is the case in many families. The story is narrated by the oldest daughter, Katrin. The family faces illness, school issues, tight finances, and the crazy mishaps that seem even funnier when applied to first-generation children with immigrant parents. Both the cultural and language barriers make for plenty of humor.

Mama knows that her children...more
Rachel Wagner
I love this little book. It is sweet and simple about a wonderful family. Each story could be its own family home evening and I don't think that is a bad thing. I wish more books like this were written about a functional happy family. They aren't perfect but they are happy and trying their best. I still love the story of Kathryn stealing the candy. I also love the stories of the resurrected cat, Mom selling her broach for graduation gift and Mama sacrificing her coat for her children. To me, it...more
I hope that there is always room for stories about people who are good, productive, and intelligent and have just a bit of a hankering for justice. Add love of family and of most other people - including cheating boarders - and you have Mama, a woman who, in spite of fear and financial and social disadvantages, sees good where she looks and where she puts in her hand.

In a series of short, witty stories, Ms. Forbes takes the immigrant Mama and Papa and their American-born children through the ye...more
Jagadeesh Andrew  Owens
This is the first autobiography I ever read. I was eight or nine at the time, around the same age of the author during the time of the book. I don't remember where I got it, I think from my Granny Owens. This is the book that made me fall in love with autobiographies. Maybe I'm a voyeur, but being able to peek into other people's lives is a great fascination and pleasure of mine (albeit a literary one!). I just ordered a tattered old copy that I hope will match the one I got from Granny.

A review...more
Amadéa Marie
I gobbled up this book like a Hoeffler Centennial (if you don't know what that is, take a read at this book). This book may be too endearing, too "fluffy" for some, but I loved the heartwarming tales held together by the central characters, the Hanson family.
This story has, in one form or another, been dear to me and my family for many years. The first I knew of it was the movie version from the 1940s, starring Irene Dunne as Mama (incidentally titled 'I Remember Mama'). I had seen this movie o...more
Christy Leskovar
This is the book the movie “I Remember Mama” is based on. Delightful stories of an immigrant Norwegian family in San Francisco. It reads as though a memoir, but apparently it is a novel drawn from the life of the author’s Norwegian grandmother who immigrated to California in the 19th century.
\This was a fun read...I can remember watching "I Remember Mama" on TV when I was much much younger.

I liked the part when they found out mama didn't have a bank account downtown..How you think makes a big difference in life.
Be careful of what you think.
Andrea Fife
This book makes me want to pick up a pen and write my own collection of stories about my mother. The luckiest of us have a mother who lead and taught her family by daily living her own set of values. This book is a great reminder of the power of example.
You're going to come to love and appreciate the "Mama" of this book. The author pays tribute to a remarkable mother in 17 stories, chronologically arranged from the time "Katrin" is finishing grammar school through her college years. The family has struggles, tragedies, and triumphs. The mother's tenacity, ingenuity, and wisdom pull them through.

The setting is turn-of-the-century San Francisco. The parents are immigrants from Norway. The extended family figures in many of the stories, as do frie...more
This was trip down memory lane for me. This book was the basis of a movie and TV show called "I Remember Mama." I have seen the movie and enjoyed the TV show as a kid. This is a story of a strong Norwegian immigrant family raising their 5 children in San Francisco in the early 40s. It was a time of strong family values, people with a strong sense of hard work and living the Golden Rule. People took care of each other and had simple needs. It is something that our world has lost too much of. Our...more
I loved this little treasure. I gave it 4 stars because of the content, not especially for the writing style. It is heartwarming recollections of a stalwart strong loving mother written by her daughter. The movie made from this book "I Remember Mama" is one of my favorites. A feel good quick read well worth the time......then watch the movie!
Valerie Steimle
I wasn't sure what to expect but as I read this gem of a book, it became more and more interesting. Each chapter was a separate story of what happened in Kathryn's family as she grew up with 2 Norwegian parents in the San Fransisco area of California in the early 1900's. It made a great history companion for those studying that time period of history.

Wonderful characters and heart warming stories.
Totally loved this book! It's an older book. But I loved it anyway. Kind of timeless. I gave it to a friend and she didn't like it, so I guess it isn't everyone's cup of tea. I think about the uncle a lot. Kind of the crazy one, but everyone still looks up to him. Still hoping the nutty uncle will help them make life okay. There is also a movie associated with this book. I remember Mama. I gave it to my aunt who was in her 80's a few weeks before she died. They said she played it over and over a...more
I selected this book from my shelf because it was thin enough that I knew I could read it in the tub without getting a cramp in my hand. I was pleasantly surprised that the writing, while a bit smarmy by today's standards, is also wryly amusing. It reads quite a bit like O Henry. Each chapter is a vignette, ending with a little twist of some sort. The hero, Mama, truly is a hero, and I liked that. It was reassuring to know that whatever happened in each chapter, quaint little immigrant Mama had...more
Diane Davis
Delightful read... I used to watch I remember Mama on TV and that show was based on this book.
Patricia Braja
This was one of my favorite books. Great story of a Swedish family in San Francisco.
I love that I read this book in the month of May, when we celebrate “Mother’s Day” for that reason it made this book seem so dear. I found myself in admiration of good mother’s and what they do for society. Thank you good mother’s everywhere. What is that saying “The hand that rocks the cradle rocks the nation.” (I am not sure I have that quote just right but the point is still the same). The better the mothers the better the country, it is sad we don’t esteem the positive power mother’s have in...more
Anna Dressen
I loved this book! When I have children I'll definitely read this to them.
Mama is a Norwegian immigrant raising her family in 1910 San Francisco. Each chapter is in itself a story, as told by her daughter, which shows the trials of childhood and the perceptions and quiet way of righting the wrongs and calming the fears, that only her Mama can do.

This is one of the books which later was used to write the TV show “Mama” from 1949-1957; a 1944 play by John Van Druten and subsequent 1948 film “I Remember Mama" starring Irene Dunn as Mama. (info from Wikipedia)

I have adde...more
Lisa Tangen
it's as charming as the movie it inspired.
3.5 stars. It was an easy and endearing read.
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Forbes, born Kathryn Anderson, was the granddaughter of Norwegian immigrants. She was a writer best known for Mama's Bank Account, a fictionalized memoir about a Norwegian family in 1920s San Francisco. The book focused on the warmhearted family and its struggles and dreams. The book inspired first a play, then a movie, and finally a TV series, all called I Remember Mama.

Forbes also published nove...more
More about Kathryn Forbes...
Mama S Bank Account: Transfer Point Io e la mamma

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