Tony's Reviews > The Egg and I

The Egg and I by Betty MacDonald
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Apr 15, 10

bookshelves: biography
Read in April, 2010

MacDonald, Betty. THE EGG AND I. (1945). ****. A friend of mine let me know that he had just read the second volume of this memoir, this title being part one. I didn’t know that there was a second volume (and even a third). In fact, although I know I have seen the film made from the book starring Claudet Colbert and Fred MacMurray, I wasn’t sure that I had ever read the book. (I should also mention that Ma and Pa Kettle, who appear in the book, were played by – who else – Marjorie Main and Percy Kilbride.) I found a copy (a book club edition) at our local library and dug in. At the time this was written and published, WW II was coming to an end. Soldiers were slowly being demobbed and were back looking for what they might do with the rest of their lives. Although Betty’s husband, Bob, wasn’t necessarily in the service – nor is there any mention of the war – he decides to strike off on his own and start a chicken ranch in Washington state, somewhere in the wilds of the Northwest. His wife Betty – the author – agrees to go along with him in this venture, since she was brought up to believe that when a husband finds what it is he wants to do in life, his wife should support him 100%. Little did she know what she was getting into as they bought an old chicken rance that had been abandoned and was in the middle of nowhere. They had plans, though. together they managed to repair the buildings and build the necessary housing for their first 1,000 chicks. There was also the need to start their own vegetable garden and to acquire some small number of livestock – pigs, cattle, etc. Their nearest neighbors were four miles away, and were a bit strange. In fact, all their neighbors plus any remaining Indians were all ‘different’. What poor Betty had to go through with this project constitutes the story she tells. From an ardent supporter of her husband’s efforts and her full cooperation with all of the work involved, she slowly becomes a woman trapped in a wilderness, surrounded by mental defectives and drunken Indians and dangerous wildlife. All of the story is told with humor tinged with just a trace of bitterness that engaged the American public at the time. The book club edition I read told us that over 3 million copies of the book had been sold thus far, with its additional translation into twelve foreign languages. The book club edition boasted new plates that would now bring this classic to additional millions. It might have been, since this was the fifth printing of the book club edition. As it turned out, I hadn’t read the book before, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Recommended.
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