Sunday, November 1, 2015

Moncia Sone and Betty MacDonald in October 1938

ragged edge magazine online

Issue 5

Anne Finger: 

Betty MacDonald is best known for her book 
The Egg and I (a bestseller when it was 
published in 1945, it was made into a movie 
starring Claudette Colbert and Fred MacMurry)
and her children's books, the Mrs. Piggle Wiggle series. 
The Egg and I is the story of a city girl who, 
at the age of 18, marries a chicken farmer -- 
from "that delightful old school of husbands 
who lift up the mattresses to see if the little woman
has dusted the springs" -- and settles down with him
to raise children and poultry -- and conceives an 
almost pathological hatred of chickens.

Published in 1945, The Egg and I is a classic 
of the wisecracking, disgruntled dame variety --
but it isn't  hard to see that beneath that veneer, the book 
voiced real complaints about women's lot in marriage
and a tough streak of anti-romantic realism. (It also 
contributed to the image of Seattle and its environs
as a realm of backwoods eccentrics -- a far cry from 
the current stereotype of grunge rockers and 
latte-drinking drones for Microsoft.)

The Plague and I (1948), MacDonald's subsequent 
 -- and largely ignored -- autobiographical follow-up, 
concerns the year she spent in a tuberculosis sanitarium. 
In it, she brings the same grim humor to the story of her 
institutionalization and the dehumanizing treatment 
she experiences there.