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Onions in the Stew (1955)

de Betty MacDonald

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320967,567 (3.88)26
"For twelve years we MacDonalds have been living on an island in Puget Sound. There is no getting away from it, life on an island is different from life in the St. Francis Hotel but you can get used to it, can even grow to like it. 'C'est la guerre,' we used to say looking wistfully toward the lights of the big comfortable warm city just across the way. Now, as November (or July) settles around the house like a wet sponge, we say placidly to each other, 'I love it here. I wouldn't live anywhere else.'" Betty MacDonald's final memoir, Onions in the Stew recounts her second attempt at farm-living, this time on Washington's then-remote Vashon Island along with her second husband, Don MacDonald, and her two teenage daughters.… (més)
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In truth, Onions in the Stew can be read independently of any other Betty MacDonald memoir. All three are very different from one another. Onions in the Stew tells of the period in MacDonald's life when she and her children, with her second husband, buy a house on Vashon Island in Puget Sound. It starts off as a humorous commentary on island living but morphs into the trials and tribulations of raising two teenager daughters who just have to rebel against everything you want for them. By the end of it, the reader can't help but sigh. MacDonald blends just the right amount of laugh-out-oud funny with sweet poignancy. This was my favorite of the three memoirs by far. ( )
  SeriousGrace | Jun 1, 2021 |
You know a book is going to be good when you're already laughing aloud on page four. Very lively and funny, this. It's about when Betty Macdonald lived on Vashon Island (across the sound from Seattle) with two daughters and her second husband. Time period is the late forties. Some things like doing the cooking and housework for a family with reluctant pre-teenagers, are awfully familiar and relatable. There are awkward houseguests and kids' friends coming and going, changing fashions you can't make sense of, hectic rushes to get out the door for school or work on time (in this case compounding by the narrow margin of trying to catch the ferryboat) and lazy weekend mornings. Babysitting for the neighbors, kids navigating their first jobs, fibbing about trouble in school . . . I'd feel like I was reading about a family I might have known growing up, or my own. Then there's details about using a phone line shared with fourteen other households, frequent power outages, using a washing machine that's a huge tub with a wringer (filled by hand), war shortages and news from overseas, Japanese neighbors that are never mentioned again after being "sent to internment camp", and an incredibly casual attitude towards smoking that soundly reminded me this wasn't of my time...

This book charmed me as The Egg and I did, because it's set in a locale I know well, having grown up in the Seattle area. (Though a lot more like Anybody Can Do Anything in tone). The rain and slippery trails on bluffs thick with huckleberries and oregon grape. The rocky shoreline and beaches where they dug clams. Beachcombing forays and attempts to garden on the hillside around their house. The antics of their dog, the constant quarrels of their children, and yet how calmly things fall together in the end. It was familiar and curiously unique at the same time. Fun.

more at the Dogear Diary ( )
  jeane | Jan 22, 2021 |
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 teen years to housecleaners. Living on Vashon Island, which was only connected to the mainland via ferries and personal boats, was quite a bit rougher than she and her family expected. There’s also the beauty of having an island house which is also captured well in this book.

The MacDonalds took over the house during an idyllic summer. There were plenty of clams on their personal beach, including geoduck clams. The downstairs practically-outdoor shower was perfect for rinsing off after time in the sea. The great big hearth would be quite wonderful in winter. Then the cold season sets in. The family comes to find out that having a nearly-outdoor shower is onerous to heat up in winter. The great big hearth is truly magnificent but you have to haul in the wood for it, usually driftwood from the beach. The reality settles in and yet the MacDonalds still find much to love about the island.

Betty does such a great job with the humor. She gently pokes fun at everyone and is a little more jabby when focusing the eye on herself. She praises her daughters abilities while also realistically portraying their teen-aged arguments and volatile mood swings. There are plenty of characters that appear through the several years this book covers. Some are helpful handymen, some good cooks, some terrible at child rearing, some are drunk and merry.

Onions in the Stew does a good job of showing the hardships or inconveniences (depending on your point of view) of island living. Betty doesn’t paint the entire experience as a ‘wonderful’ way of life. Nope. Using humor she gives us a slice of reality. That is the root of why I enjoy her books so much. While The Plague and I is still my favorite book by her, this one was quite good as well.

I received a free copy of this book via The Audiobookworm.

The Narration: Heather Henderson is great as the voice of Betty MacDonald. She also did a great job with the voices of Joan and Anne even as they age throughout the book. I also enjoyed her male voices, including Don’s. Her Japanese accent was also good. ( )
  DabOfDarkness | Mar 26, 2017 |
USA, Vashon, 1940erne

Indeholder kapitlerne "1. Ingen penge - ingen møbler", "2. På jagt efter et hus", "3. Så til søs ...", "4. Gammel vin på nye flasker", "5. Gud råder for vejr og vind", "6. Vi klarede pynten ...", "7. Man må holde det nede", "8. Vi ser for lidt til hinanden -", "9. Diverse venner og fjender", "10. Verdens herrer -", "11. Hjælp til selvhjælp", "12. Man tager en sølvske ...", "13. Slap af - Betty", "14. Hvem ved, hvad man skal stille op?", "15. De børn - de børn!", "16. Boller på suppen".

"1. Ingen penge - ingen møbler" handler om ???
"2. På jagt efter et hus" handler om ???
"3. Så til søs ..." handler om ???
"4. Gammel vin på nye flasker" handler om ???
"5. Gud råder for vejr og vind" handler om ???
"6. Vi klarede pynten ..." handler om ???
"7. Man må holde det nede" handler om ???
"8. Vi ser for lidt til hinanden -" handler om ???
"9. Diverse venner og fjender" handler om ???
"10. Verdens herrer -" handler om ???
"11. Hjælp til selvhjælp" handler om ???
"12. Man tager en sølvske ..." handler om ???
"13. Slap af - Betty" handler om ???
"14. Hvem ved, hvad man skal stille op?" handler om ???
"15. De børn - de børn!" handler om ???
"16. Boller på suppen" handler om ???

Herligt overgearet bog om det at bo på øen Vashon i 1940erne uden ret mange penge. ( )
  bnielsen | Nov 15, 2016 |
Down to earth and funny account of life on an island in Puget Sound in the 40's and 50's. The author has the high spirits and energy of that wonderful Julia Child sort of auntie. ( )
1 vota triscuit | Feb 16, 2010 |
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Rozprávěla jsem s lidmi, které jsem znala, a dokonce i s těmi, které jsem neznala, protože pohromy bortí přehrady zdrženlivosti. (s. 68)
Chcete-li si uchovat lásku svého chotě, musíte být vždycky hezká, veselá, musíte udržovat svůj dům vez poskrvnky, musíte ráno vstávat a vařit manželovi snídani a mít i jiné zájmy. Jedno lze přičíst ve prospěch tohoto stavu věcí - člověk má životní cíl. (S.148)
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Do not combine with 'Onions in the Stew: A Comedy in Three Acts' which is a dramatization of this book by William Dalzell and Anne Coulter Martens.
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"For twelve years we MacDonalds have been living on an island in Puget Sound. There is no getting away from it, life on an island is different from life in the St. Francis Hotel but you can get used to it, can even grow to like it. 'C'est la guerre,' we used to say looking wistfully toward the lights of the big comfortable warm city just across the way. Now, as November (or July) settles around the house like a wet sponge, we say placidly to each other, 'I love it here. I wouldn't live anywhere else.'" Betty MacDonald's final memoir, Onions in the Stew recounts her second attempt at farm-living, this time on Washington's then-remote Vashon Island along with her second husband, Don MacDonald, and her two teenage daughters.

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