Audiobook Review | “Onions in the Stew” by Betty MacDonald, narrated by Heather Henderson

Posted Tuesday, 28 March, 2017 by jorielov , , , 2 Comments

Audiobook Review Badge made by Jorie in Canva.

Acquired Digital Audiobook by: I am a new blog tour hostess with Audiobookworm Promotions wherein I have the opportunity to receive audiobooks for review or adoption (reviews outside of organised blog tours) and host guest features on behalf of authors and narrators alike. The Egg and I blog tour marks my second tour wherein I have become quite happily surprised how much I am now keen on listening to books in lieu of reading them in print. My journey into audiobooks was prompted by a return of my chronic migraines wherein I want to offset my readings with listening to the audio versions.

I received a complimentary audiobook copy of “Onions in the Stew” via the publicist at Audiobookworm Promotions (of whom was working directly with the narrator Heather Henderson and Post Hypnotic Press, Inc.) in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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Audiobook Review | “Onions in the Stew” by Betty MacDonald, narrated by Heather HendersonOnions in the Stew

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 favorite target. She manages to get herself into scrapes with washing machines set adrift in rowboats, used cars, and a $25 Turkey Squasher. And then there's the scariest aspect of island life -- teenaged children.

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

Length: 9 hours 40 minutes (unabridged)

Published By: Post Hypnotic Press (@Post_Hypnotic)

About Betty MacDonald

Betty MacDonald

Betty Bard MacDonald (1907–1958), the best-selling author of The Egg and I and the classic Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle children’s books, burst onto the literary scene shortly after the end of World War II. Readers embraced her memoir of her years as a young bride operating a chicken ranch on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula, and The Egg and I sold its first million copies in less than a year.

The public was drawn to MacDonald’s vivacity, her offbeat humor, and her irreverent take on life. In 1947, the book was made into a movie starring Fred MacMurray and Claudette Colbert, and spawned a series of films featuring MacDonald’s Ma and Pa Kettle characters.

MacDonald followed up the success of The Egg and I with the creation of Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle, a magical woman who cures children of their bad habits, and with three additional memoirs: The Plague and I (chronicling her time in a tuberculosis sanitarium just outside Seattle), Anybody Can Do Anything (recounting her madcap attempts to find work during the Great Depression), and Onions in the Stew (about her life raising two teenage daughters on Vashon Island).

Author Paula Becker was granted full access to Betty MacDonald’s archives, including materials never before seen by any researcher. Looking for Betty MacDonald, the first official biography of this endearing Northwest storyteller, reveals the story behind the memoirs and the difference between the real Betty MacDonald and her literary persona.

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my review of onions in the stew:

This is my third review of the Betty MacDonald memoirs – as I haven’t yet had the ability to finalise my thoughts on The Egg and I, but I do promise those ruminative thoughts will appear ahead of my review for the Betty MacDonald biography which will serve as a capstone on my experiences with this author’s legacy. A credit to Ms Henderson for keeping my attention thus far enthused for more of Betty’s life, as somewhere along the way, I came to love her quirky fast delivery of Betty’s introspective stream of conscience conversational disclosures! Betty’s life is not entirely unique nor unfamiliar, but it’s how she chooses to express herself that makes her a bit landmark in the autobiography category of literature!

Betty likes to come at you quite fast – she gives you so many details – not just pertaining to her life in the Pacific Northwest, but of the landscape of her environs and what characterises the scenery to be recognisable to those who live there. Being a traveller to the PNW myself, there were moments where I could recognise my own observations whilst being out there. For starters, no one can miss Mt. Rainier! The volcano is iconic as much as it is visually represented from more angles of insight than you could fathom unless you were out there to physically take in it’s beauty! I love how she took a moment to compare this historic volcano to ‘drooling ice cream’ as to effectively talk about how it has snow capped peaks but most of the mountainous terrain itself is not as readily ‘iced over’.

Her fiercely blunt honesty is right in line in this installment as it has been in the past. She likes to assert herself into your life with a variety of facts about her current life, her past life and of course, the goings-on of what might be pertinent to know of the ‘here and now’ too. Meaning, she actually separates her current situation from the movements of time around her; she likes to blanket your eyes (or eyes, depending on which version your consuming) with a lot of information. Her mild humour of talking about the habits of Christians is one level of fodder she likes to entertain you with whilst she hovers over encompassing other community tidbits which may or may not encourage your curiosity! lol

This installment is quite classic in how she’s moving into that uncertain territory of raising teens – mind you, my own parents never thought the teenage years were to be feared but then again, I wasn’t your typical teen, I suppose! lol My parents loved to embrace growth spurt of my life, as each year of my growth they felt blessed to ‘meet’ the evolving confident young woman I was developing into being. Plus, they always supported my interests and my pursuit of the written word as a writer, too. In many ways, I was beyond blessed by having them as my support system but also for encouraging my creative muses whilst embracing the journey of ‘finding’ my personal niche in the world.

This wouldn’t be a Betty MacDonald memoir without a quirky situational comedy emitting out of ordinary life! Sometimes when I’m listening to her story unfold, it’s nearly a case-in-point of ‘real life is stranger than fiction’! You would not believe half of what occurred in the MacDonald household unless you take up residence in her memoirs! She happily finds her way out of one nightmare after another whilst finding solace in the uncertainty of ‘everything’ as they didn’t quite have a safety net either! They lived life without fear of tomorrow and tried to embrace each new day with the promise of what it could bring rather than the angst of what could go wrong: this in of itself was an inspiring mind-set and one to remember, as despite how grim life might feel at times, there are still reasons to smile and find a moment to celebrate the little joys which always arise out of the gloom.

I think the most champion example of ‘crazy life moments’ is when Betty realised her washing machine was ‘cast to sea’, as they had just relocated to an island. It’s one of those moments where you wonder ‘how exactly can this be happening?’ and at the very same time, how to rectify the situation!? Of course in true Betty fashion, a coffee break and creative thinking are exactly what help her muddle through this curious situation! Hearing her daughters argue the benefits of going out into the water to fetch the washing machine vs having a proper breakfast was ingenious! Of course, the washing machine wasn’t quite adrift by its own-some but rather on a raft. The imagery would have been even wildly more humourous if the washing machine was bobbling up and down in the waves by itself, though!

I definitely understood Betty’s healthy apprehension for ‘weather’ patterns, especially if your used to living in a place where ‘weather’ is transitional or unpredictable. It’s not just for people living on PNW islands, as here are some truly volatile places to live where wind, rain, hail, lightning and mother nature can dearly dictate what you can do or not do! The crazy bit is how quickly the weather can right itself or unnerve you senseless, too! I think anyone who has had drastic weather changes will be nodding along with Betty about the insanity of climate patterns and how we truly are at the mercy of nature!

I must admit, the only downside was the particular focus on ‘clams’ – as I’m not entirely enthralled about seafood as most people are and thereby, there were moments where I’d rather have a glossing over this side of her life than the in-depth revelations she gave this installment. There were a few moments of hilarity but overall, ugh, it’s quite overkill for those of us who opt-out of seafood rather than being the delicacy we devour.

I loved the passage of talking about community ties and neighbourly concern, where each neighbour who is interconnected to the MacDonald’s is equated as being a ‘light’ in the pitch of night. A reference of someone who can be counted upon and trusted to be around when a need arises for a neighbour to step forward to help another neighbour in need. Lights peppering the horizon is such a clever way to empathsis the necessity of community resilience and connectiveness. It isn’t always popular in today’s contemporary world to have strong neighbourly ties but in this generation and era, there were a lot of transient residents where the MacDonald’s lived as their environs were situated on an island. This in of itself presented a new conflict: how do you make strong connections in a suitcase community? Today, I think it’s the harried cycle of our lives and the disconnections of reaching out past our doors to seek out those who live next door or across the way; in a manner that is past the complimentary ‘hallo’ and neighbourly wave. Some neighbourhoods are closer than others; some simply stand against recluseness by being on the fringes of communicative and isolated islands of their own. I simply found this interesting that Betty was broaching the subject – of how you can live nearby a lot of people but without the effort on both sides to form a bond, a connection is never connected. It’s interesting because it’s still a viable issue today.

If you think about the title of this one a bit, it’s almost how life converges on your time – where everything happens all at once and it’s either stew or be stewed! You have to embrace life head-on and roll with the punches as they arrive. Mothermood is also a bit like shooting from the hip; you have to have your wits about you but also, as so much can chance in the blink, you have to be able to adapt to changing situations and circumstances. I think that is one of the credits to Betty’s life; she didn’t; always have it easy, but what she had was gumption, fortitude and a spirit of ingenuity.

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specifically in regards to the audiobook:

As I am relatively new to reviewing audiobooks and listening to them with a greater frequency than of the past, I am appreciative of Ms Jess providing a cursory outline of how best to articulate my listening hours on behalf of this audiobook and the others I shall be blogging about or reviewing in future. I’ve modified the suggestions to what I felt were pertinent to respond too on my own behalf as well as keeping to the questions I felt were relevant to share.

About Heather Henderson

Heather Henderson

Heather Henderson is a voice actress and audiobook narrator with a 20-year career in literary and performing arts. Her narrations include the NYT bestseller (now also a feature film) Brain on Fire; and Sharon Creech’s The Boy on the Porch, which won her an Earphones award and was named one of the Best Children’s Audiobooks for 2013 by Audiofile Magazine.

She earned her Doctor of Fine Arts degree at the Yale School of Drama, and is co-curator of, a pronunciation research site for the audiobook industry.

In 2015, Heather was a finalist for a Voice Arts Award (Outstanding Narration, Audiobook Classics), for her narration of Betty MacDonald’s The Egg and I.

Regards to the Narrator’s Performance & Articulation:

Ms Henderson did well to volley the voices of Betty’s teenage children with Betty’s own voice; giving this installment a well rounded impression of a mother who has her hands full trying to raise teenagers but also, still deal with the pressing demands of motherhood.

*more detailed notes about Ms Henderson’s narrating style are threaded through my reviews of the Betty MacDonald memoirs which are linked below this post.

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 This blog tour is courtesy of Audiobookworm Promotions:

Host badge for Audiobookworm Promotions.

Whilst participating on:

My apologies to the publisher, narrator and those following this blog tour. I succumbed to severe seasonal allergies to where I’ve been taken ill twice this month in the score of a week and a half! My seasonal allergies flare generally most years, but sometimes, like this year, in particular – the allergy attacks knock the wind out of me! They are insidious and horrid; where only rest and allergy medicine can cure the ills of the hour. Therefore, I had to postpone this review until the day after my originally scheduled stop.

Onions in the Stew blog tour hosted by Audiobookworm PromotionsIf your an avid audiobook listener, I welcome your commentary and recommendations especially for Non-Fiction titles and/or Biographies, Autobiographies and Memoir you think I might enjoy seeking out next!

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{SOURCES: Cover art of “Onions in the Stew”, book synopsis, narrator biography, narrator photo,  author biography, author photo, Audiobookworm Promotions badge and the audiobook tour badge were all provided by Audiobookworm Promotions and used with permission. Post dividers by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. Tweets embedded by codes provided by Twitter. Blog graphics created by Jorie via Canva: Audiobook Narrator Interview Banner and the Comment Box Banner.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2017.

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About jorielov

I am self-educated through local libraries and alternative education opportunities. I am a writer by trade and I cured a ten-year writer’s block by the discovery of Nanowrimo in November 2008. The event changed my life by re-establishing my muse and solidifying my path. Five years later whilst exploring the bookish blogosphere I decided to become a book blogger. I am a champion of wordsmiths who evoke a visceral experience in narrative. I write comprehensive book showcases electing to get into the heart of my reading observations. I dance through genres seeking literary enlightenment and enchantment. Starting in Autumn 2013 I became a blog book tour hostess featuring books and authors. I joined The Classics Club in January 2014 to seek out appreciators of the timeless works of literature whose breadth of scope and voice resonate with us all.

"I write my heart out and own my writing after it has spilt out of the pen." - self quote (Jorie of Jorie Loves A Story)

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Posted Tuesday, 28 March, 2017 by jorielov in Audiobook Narrator Interview, Audiobookworm Promotions, Blog Tour Host, Memoir, Non-Fiction, Vignettes of Real Life

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