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The Egg and I

(Betty MacDonald Memoirs #1)

3.92  ·  Rating details ·  8,049 ratings  ·  845 reviews
“A work of real comic genius. . . . A wonderful, funny, warm, honest book, and, to use a much overused word, a classic.” –Michael Korda, author of Country Matters

When Betty MacDonald married a marine and moved to a small chicken farm on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State, she was largely unprepared for the rigors of life in the wild. With no running water, no el
Paperback, 288 pages
Published June 24th 2008 by Harper Perennial (first published October 3rd 1945)
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Average rating 3.92  · 
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This is one of the most funniest and fascinating memoirs I have ever read. I want to add some quotes later on. This book is a must-read.

THEN .... LATER ON ...
We had a power cut yesterday and since my iPad was low on battery power as well, I did not want to spend it writing reviews. So I waited until today to add some memorable quotes from the book to my thoughts. There was so much in the book to relate to, living in the mountains myself and having to deal with similar adventures(yes, even many d
Jun 04, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2012-reads, humor
I'm giving this (a very generous) 2 stars due to the excellent scenic descriptions of the Washington state environment. I got a real sense of the beauty and bounty of the area and that's one thing I always enjoy about a book.

Otherwise, MaCDonald's brand of humor isn't one shared by me, and I found nothing remotely funny about her life on a chicken farm in the 1940's. There's a bitterness about her observations of "people-not-herself" that manifests itself as a mean-spirited bigotry that you ofte
Sep 07, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have read Betty MacDonald's The Egg and I at least three times. The first
time I was about twelve, the second, maybe twenty-one
and the last time in the virtual dotage of sixty-two.

My ten year old self took this as a fabulous adventure
story and I wanted nothing more than to meet Gams and
the hyperactive grandma and eat a geoduck clam with
the MacDonalds.

At twenty-one, I laughed my head off. Being of an impractical
nature myself, I got anxious and then giggling at what
I took to be a hippies-in-the-w
Oh, this book.

I would give 90% of it 5 stars, but the other 10% gets negative stars. So whatever that evens out to is anyone's guess...The author is so talented and her prose so sprightly in parts and poetic in others that there can be no doubt as to the quality of the writing. Much if not most of it is fantastic.

My biggest problem with this book is the author's deeply ingrained snobbery and worse, racism. She's dismissive of all her neighbors, drawing blood with her pen as she eviscerates their
May 21, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone!
Recommended to Steve by: Found it in the library as a kid
As far as I'm concerned, this is the best book ever written. By anybody. And, go figure, it's non-fiction, a rarity for me anyway. MacDonald, as a bride in the 1920s, fell prey to her new husband's long-cherished dream of owning a chicken ranch, so off they went to the wilderness of Washington to raise chickens in a remote mountain location, where the nearest neighbors were a two-mile walk away. Frankly, living in the wilderness without electricity or indoor plumbing (she carried water from a sp ...more
Diane Barnes
A bit old-fashioned, humorous in parts, and I totally understand why it was a best seller in 1945. It's been on my list for years and years, and I finally got around to it. I'll hunt up the old movie, with Fred MacMurray and Claudette Colbert as the MacDonalds, and also the first appearance of Pa and Ma Kettle.
Apr 29, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There are books that stay with you all your life. My mother read this to my sisters and brother and I when we were sick with the flu in England in the early 50's. I believe I have read this book about 30 times.

Betty Macdonald's early biography, she wasn't someone really famous, but she had a way with words. (the book is no where near as shallow and trivial as the movie of the same name with Claudette Colbert as a ridiculous woman dressed up at a county fair) Her description of how she ended up
Feb 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I haven't thoroughly enjoyed and laughed outloud with a really good book in a very long time. This book "The Egg and I" by Betty MacDonald has brought some fun and joy into my life. Betty MacDonald is Ma & Pa Kettles neighbor, and the story has to do with them moving to Washington State and they have a Chicken Ranch with many other animals and crops. She is so gifted in her way of telling her story. I don't want to be a spoiler, as this is a Book Club read, and we have some fun ladies that are a ...more
Feb 14, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I should have adored this - I have loved all of Betty Macdonald's other books and I've been saving this one up as a treat. But it just didn't do it for me. There seemed much more mean-spiritness than in her other books. Of course her spikey, pointed observations are what make her writing so delightful, but barbed humour only works well when one delights in the shafts because they're aimed at a shared and justified target. And here I found myself completely out of harmony with her. There's the ob ...more
Oct 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing
It took me a few pages to get into this book, but once I did I couldn't stop. It's semi-autobiographical and written in stream-of-consciousness, as Betty tells you the story of her childhood and how she ended up married to a man who dreamed of being a chicken farmer. (She thought she was marrying someone whose passion was insurance sales. She was wrong.)

Betty is hilarious and clever with an extremely dry wit as well as a keen curiosity. Everything about her adventures in chicken farming fascina
Ivonne Rovira
I adored Betty MacDonald’s four Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle books when I was a child — so much so that I tracked them down to read to my own children when they came along. So I was ready to laugh uproariously with MacDonald’s famous memoir The Egg and I.

And don’t get me wrong: Parts of the book are hilarious: her paternal grandmother Gammy, the travails of the chicken ranch, and the plight of being the intellectual but plain younger sister. But modern-day readers will be taken aback by the antiquated exp
Betty MacDonald (author of the Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle series) tells the story of her early, disastrous marriage to a chicken farmer. She has a great narrative voice, a fabulous sense of humor, and a way with an anecdote.

Annnnnnd she's also racist as hell. Which pretty much ruins a lot of the book. So, FYI: interesting, funny memoir of a way of farming that is now totally gone, in a part of the country not many people write about. With a giant helping of open, unapologetic racism, of the Native-Amer
Felisa Rosa
A memoir of rural life that lit up the best-seller lists in 1945, The Egg and I is the story of a young bride in the late 1920s who gets dragged to the woods of Washington by her enthusiastic and unsympathetic husband. Like Shirley Jackson's Life Among the Savages, which I just read, MacDonald's memoir captures the life of an overwhelmed housewife with a keen mind, a sharp sense of humor, and an unusual and subversive vision of her time. These were women who were trying to be good wives and moth ...more
Mary Deborde
Mar 12, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have to say, this is my favorite book of all time. First introduced to Betty's semi-fictionalized memoirs in the late 60s (via my mother's book collection), I've since made it a point to search out
the vintage printings of all her works.

I tend to read this book once a year or so, usually during the winter months, because there is something
familiar and cozy about The Egg and I - like a pair of well worn slippers. It's a trusted friend I turn to now & then, to bask in the whimsical adventures of
Sep 10, 2007 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: fans of autobiographies and "roughing it" tales
Well, there are 2 groups of people I wouldn't recommend this book to: vegetarians/animal lovers, due to the realities written about of living on a farm, and especially a chicken farm, and people offended by racist Native American portrayals, due to the author's own racist opinions.
I can pretty much guarantee that if you don't fall into the first group, you most likely will fall into the second, so I'm not sure who to recommed it to. In fact, I myself threw down the book in disgust, and almost g
I bought this on a whim from a local charity shop, based on the title, cover and blurb. MacDonald and her husband started a rural Washington State chicken farm in the 1940s. Her account of her failure to become the perfect farm wife is rather hilarious. The voice reminds me of Doreen Tovey’s: mild exasperation at the drama caused by household animals, neighbors, and inanimate objects (“Stove” is her nemesis). The only unfortunately dated element is her terrible snobbishness towards rednecks and ...more
Lee Anne
Mar 06, 2008 rated it really liked it
The author of the Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle series also wrote several memoirs, this being the most famous. It's the book that introduced Ma and Pa Kettle to the world. Read through today's eyes, it's so horribly racist regarding Native Americans that I can't recommend it in my job, but it's a funny and warm book regardless. I guess that's like saying, "It's a great story, minus the Klan meetings"--it's not that bad, but I can't set the racism aside, and...I don't know. I can't imagine following my newl ...more
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This book was written in 1945 and follows Betty MacDonald's adventures in the 1920s living on a chicken farm with her new husband in Washington State. The book is based in reality, but characters have been melded, warped, squished together, and changed for humor's sake.

The book is, first and foremost, and humor book, and I will admit there were several laugh out loud moments, especially near the beginning. MacDonald certainly has a sly wit about her and since this was her first try at writing, I
Jamie Collins
Betty McDonald’s famous memoir about the years she lived on an isolated chicken farm in Washington state in the late 1920’s. It’s very funny, and she goes into fascinating detail about the relentless work she and her husband did to build the farm from scratch and then run it. Although she writes with great humor, she’s candid about her intense loneliness, and the fact that she “alternated between delirious happiness and black despair”.

She was angry about the fact that she had to do all of the “w
Aug 16, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I remember in 1946 my mother reading “The egg and I” to my sister and I. I remember enjoying the book and when I saw it released in audio format I decided to read it again.

The book was released in October of 1945 and it was a quirky, semi-autobiographical book about a young woman in the Pacific Northwest during the early decades of the twentieth century. The book opens with her childhood but most of the book is about her marriage in 1927 and her life on a chicken farm in the Olympic Peninsula. W
Jul 14, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Betty MacDonald is one of the funniest writers I have ever come across. Her stories about the American west during the early 20th Century and the stories (including many mishaps) of running a chicken farm in Port Townsend (which is a wonderful little town in my region) were so fun to read. She feels like someone you would love to meet in person.

She has a way with words that is like no one I have ever come across, it was wry and endlessly witty.

Beware, she has some very insensitive things to say
Mar 24, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thought this was hysterical. Autobiographical account of living on an egg farm in a hill-billy part of Washington. NOT PC. Humor a little down on self sometimes, like Charlie Brown. Funny and interesting snapshot of life in the 1920/1930's in the back woods.
Alison Hardtmann
And then winter settled down and I realized that defeat, like morale, is a lot of little things.

Betty MacDonald remembers the first two years of her marriage, in which she and her husband create and run a chicken ranch located in the wilds of Washington state. Originally published in 1945, the writing style reminded me of Jean Webster (who wrote Daddy-Long-Legs), with its mix of charm and dry wit. MacDonald finds the humor in any situation and is as willing to poke fun at herself as she is at th
Apr 30, 2020 rated it liked it
Humorous, but quite dated. There were moments of chuckles, but also feelings of going on too long with lists of chores and hardships. But maybe that was the point of writing a story about the difficulties of life in a remote place with no modern conveniences. She was courageous, that's for sure. I've always heard of the movie, but now will plan to see it.
Jul 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a book I read eons ago but forgot to record when Goodreads came along. I loved this delightful, laugh-out-loud funny, heartwarming book. I should read it again since laughter is MUCH needed in 2019.
Apr 23, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

The Egg and I

A memoir, book # 1, by Betty MacDonald, 1907 to 1958.
(First published 1945, about 288 pages and semi-autobiographical)

OVERVIEW: Betty McDonald's first book about her adventures as a young wife on a chicken farm on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State...

Betty lived with her first husband [Robert Heskett] near Chimacum, Washington--a newlywed doing her best to adjust to and help operate their small chicken farm, from 1927 to 1931.

The book was made into a movie (1947) and the Ma
Mar 11, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
While the racism here is troubling, as others reviewing here have said, in this 1945 "light comedy" nonfiction, the sexism horrified me more. This is the bitterly funny (and not so funny) autobiography of a woman who has signed up for a form a marital slavery to a wannabe chicken farmer, in which the husband works her to exhaustion and insults her while doing so, and she increasingly accepts that as what she deserves/the best she can get, while displacing her unexpressed anger about it outward t ...more
Lindsay Ferrier
Jun 03, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved Betty MacDonald's Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle series when I was a kid and learned only recently that she was equally famous for her memoirs, most notably The Egg and I. Written about her years as a young bride living on a Washington state chicken farm that had neither electricity nor running water, the book definitely takes you back to a time and place that no longer exists in America, and I found it fascinating.

Although the book was a huge hit when it came out in the late 1940s, it was later cri
Aug 08, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really had no idea what this book was but I knew it was old and I heard it was funny. When it arrived from the library, I saw that the copy was from the early 60's. It smelled musty and the pages were yellowed. The spine cracked when I opened it. Heaven. I had a feeling it would be wonderful and I was right.

About midway through reading, I realized this is an autobiography about Betty MacDonald's life on a chicken farm in the state of Washington. That made all the stories even more laugh out lo
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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 Ro

Other books in the series

Betty MacDonald Memoirs (4 books)
  • The Plague and I (Betty MacDonald Memoirs, #2)
  • Anybody Can Do Anything (Betty MacDonald Memoirs, #3)
  • Onions in the Stew (Betty MacDonald Memoirs, #4)

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