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Onions in the Stew

(Betty MacDonald Memoirs #4)

4.16  ·  Rating details ·  910 ratings  ·  97 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
Paperback, 256 pages
Published March 28th 2000 by Joiner/Oriel Inc (first published 1955)
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4.16  · 
Rating details
 ·  910 ratings  ·  97 reviews


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Nancy Loe
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 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
...more
Ginny Messina
Aug 26, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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
...more
Margaret
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
Marilyn
Mar 19, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Impageturner
Aug 04, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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.
Holly
Jul 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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.
Emily
Feb 06, 2011 rated it really liked it
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 Seattle...my aunt Anna used to babysit her daughters..." Small world!
Susan Henn
Feb 24, 2015 rated it it was ok
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.
Gina
Covering the years from 1942-1954, this book is comprised of the memories of Betty McDonald, as she and her family made a move to a very unsettled Vashon Island near Puget Sound. At that time, no roads lead to Vashon Island. You must take a ferry ride there from Seattle. Easy enough, but weather and other unforseen circumstances can either delay or cancel that trip altogether, leaving you stranded on one side or the other.

Betty had recently divorced and remarried, bringing to the union her two
...more
Callum
Sep 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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 rated it it was amazing
This is my favorite of her books. I love them all and re-read them all the time.
Rebekah
Sep 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
Almost as good as The Plague and I, and far better than her other two memoirs.
V. Briceland
Aug 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
...more
Andrew McClarnon
Mar 01, 2016 rated it really liked it
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
Julie
Jun 25, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Betty is one of my favorite authors and she wrote so few books that I re-read this one about her life with her daughters and second husband on Vashon Island in Washington state at the end of WWII. She is funny and smart and has the same problems we have with our children even in different time periods. My favorite book of hers was The Plague and I and talked about her time with TB. She is best known for her book The Egg and I which was made into a film and covered her first marriage while living ...more
Kathleen Anderson
May 29, 2011 rated it really liked it
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.
Julia
Jan 12, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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.
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.
Kristine Hall
"From the water, Vashon looks like a stout gentleman taking a Sunday nap under a wooly dark green afghan. The afghan, obviously homemade, is fringed on the edges, occasionally lumpy, eked out with odds and ends of paler and darker wools, but very ample so that it falls in thick folds to the water."

What a fabulous, descriptive first chapter of the book! Betty MacDonald knows how to pull readers right in to the setting, which in this memoir is primarily Vashon Island, off Puget Sound in Washington
...more
Susan
Mar 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Onions in the Stew by Betty MacDonald Betty and her family had quite the time on Vashon Island, Washington State. With her second husband (Don MacDonald) and her two young girls (Joan and Anne), Betty experienced the joys and disappointments of living on an island. Set during WWII, this mostly autobiographical book recounts Betty’s life with wry humor and insight.
Once again, Betty has amused me. By now, after reading 4 books by her, I feel like Betty is somewhat of a friend. I really enjoyed thi
...more
Susan
Betty and her family had quite the time on Vashon Island, Washington State. With her second husband (Don MacDonald) and her two young girls (Joan and Anne), Betty experienced the joys and disappointments of living on an island. Set during WWII, this mostly autobiographical book recounts Betty’s life with wry humor and insight.

Once again, Betty has amused me. By now, after reading 4 books by her, I feel like Betty is somewhat of a friend. I really enjoyed this book from clamming to peaches to tee
...more
Tracy
Feb 28, 2019 rated it liked it
Betty MacDonald humorously recounts her years living on Vashon Island with her second husband, Don, and her two daughters, Anne and Joan. As with her other biographical works, the parts where she self deprecates and discusses her own family and situation are extremely funny, but she has a snobbish attitude and discusses other people in a sharp, unforgiving way. She goes for the laugh at the expense of others. This doesn't read well in 2019.

This book was written in the 1950s, and most of it takes
...more
Dawn
Mar 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I chose to read this book after receiving a free copy of the audiobook. All opinions in this review are my own and completely unbiased.

I had listened to The Egg and I, The Plague and I, and Anybody Can do Anything and enjoyed all of them so I was looking forward to listening to this one. Betty MacDonald’s storytelling is delightful as is the narration.

This isn’t my favorite book by Betty MacDonald, but it’s still good. It’s about her family life on an Vashon Island in Puget Sound with her husban
...more
L.A.B.
Nov 24, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: biography
Since high school when I read Betty MacDonald's The Egg and I, this has been an author whose work I've enjoyed. She writes from personal experiences and with wit. She was also the author of children's books, including the Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle series. I don't recall having read any of them but my childhood was a few decades past and I was then not given to reading.

Onions in the Stew, published in 1955, is a humorous recollection of life on Vashon Island. It is a real place, situated in Puget Sound
...more
Alison
Mar 13, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the fourth Betty book I have listened to, by now I have come to expect a level of sardonic humour along with a big dollop of common sense. If any books can guarantee to put life into perspective if you are having a ‘down’ day then it has to be a ‘Betty MacDonald’. She was an absolute trooper of her day who stood no nonsense from anybody but at the same time usually averted a crisis somehow with her wit.

Life has moved on now and her and her husband and two growing teenage girls are living
...more
T
Mar 24, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Enjoyed Betty MacDonald's tales of life on Vashon island near Seattle in the late 40's and early 50's. Their house and tract of land were purchased for $7000. They often went clamming and returned with pounds and pounds of butter clams or geoduck. Plants grew quickly in the moist environment so their gardening was a success.
They often entertained friends and would wake with enormous hangovers and drink gin fizzes before breakfast. People smoked and smoked. It was a different era.
Betty despised
...more
Becky
Jun 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
Memoir of family life on Vashon Island from 1945-1952. A ferry ride from Seattle but a completely different world with wildlife, island adventures, especially the winters and the company who came and would stay for weeks. Written by the author of the Mrs. Piggle Wiggle books, the humor and sense of fun and adventure are evident on every page. A classic work of a simpler time where people were optimistic, hard workers, and still had a sense of wonder of the world around them. A comfort book that ...more
Colette
May 17, 2018 rated it liked it
I listened to this book, chuckled a number of times. I was a little annoyed by the narrator's voice, overly sarcastic at times.

This is definitely a "period" book -- smoking, adolescents smoking, some use of phrases and words we never say anymore ("retarded").

I enjoyed the book, very light-hearted, nothing deep. I liked the sense of love I detected from the author for children and others, always welcoming them to her home. She seems to have a good understanding of personalities. Of course, I love
...more
Sue
Apr 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
I have just finished three of Betty Macdonald’s books without a break in between and I am so glad I discovered them.

This title was about her life after marrying the second time and moving to an island with her husband and teen daughters. Her descriptions of island life are very amusing and also eye opening. I often laughed aloud while reading this book and as soon as I finished, I started looking for more.
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MacDonald was born Anne Elizabeth Campbell Bard in Boulder, Colorado. Her official birth date is given as March 26, 1908, although federal census returns seem to indicate 1907.

Her family moved to the north slope of Seattle's Capitol Hill neighborhood in 1918, moving to the Laurelhurst neighborhood a year later and finally settling in the Roosevelt neighborhood in 1922, where she graduated from Roo
...more

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)
“Another female household-hinter gave me 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.” 35 likes
“Her magic formula for dealing with children is ignoring all faults and accenting tiny virtues. She says, "Instead of telling Tommy day in and day out that he is the naughtiest boy in the United States of America, which could very well be true, take an aspirin and comment on his neatly tied shoes. Almost anybody would rather be known for expert shoe-tying than for kicking the cat." She always tells whiners how charming they are--bullies how brave--bad sports how good--sneaks how honest!” 18 likes
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