Thursday, August 12, 2004


  • The Egg and I by Betty MacDonald

    Rating: ****½

    What a find! Some of my reading inspiration comes from a movie I may have seen that is based on a book. I heard about this while looking up something else, and it just goes to show you that life works in tiny but significant ways that are usually overlooked in the grand scheme of things. Actually, this happens pretty often with reading. One thing leads to another, another reader leads to more reading.

    Betty MacDonald is my idol. Literarily, anyway. She's a wonderful writer, with a fantastic ear for storytelling. The chapters are episodic, but create one narrative thread, while the characterization brings the people around her to life. Her take on the Pacific Northwest is reminiscent of the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. She and her husband battle weather, fire, bone idle neighbors - the memorable Kettles, and wild animals. They live without indoor plumbing, electricity, or running water. All this just to raise some chickens, a truly thankless job from day one. I confess I have always thought farm life a little romantic, despite the hard labor. I shudder to think what might have been if I hadn't met this book. MacDonald bitches mightily and hilariously about the surreal life she walked into as a young bride. It's the rueful laugh of bitterness, mellowed by the years. I couldn't turn the pages fast enough, although the racist comments regarding Native Americans are unfortunate and difficult to read placidly. They sadly keep this from being a perfect piece of work.

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