Sunday, January 29, 2017

Audio Book Review & Blog Tour ~ The Plague and I by Betty MacDonald, Narratored by Heather Henderson

The Plague and I
by Betty MacDonald
Narrator: Heather Henderson
Length: 8 hours 48 minutes
Publisher: Post Hypnotic Press2016
Genre: Humor, Memoir

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"The Plague and I" recounts MacDonald's experiences in a Seattle sanitarium, where the author spent almost a year (1938-39) battling tuberculosis. The White Plague was no laughing matter, but MacDonald nonetheless makes a sprightly tale of her brush with something deadly.
"Anybody Can Do Anything" is a high-spirited, hilarious celebration of how "the warmth and loyalty and laughter of a big family" brightened their weathering of the Great Depression.
In "Onions in the Stew", MacDonald is in unbuttonedly frolicsome form as she describes how, with husband and daughters, she set to work making a life on a rough-and-tumble island in Puget Sound, a ferry ride from Seattle.

The year is 1938 and more than 700 sanitariums were open nationwide for the treatment of tuberculosis.  Matter of fact, in the first decades of the 20th century, 1 out of every 170 Americans lived in a sanatorium.  Just think about that for a second….1 out of every 170 souls entered into the care of a sanatorium and sadly they probably never left. Tuberculosis, also known as ‘consumption’ or the ‘White Plague’, has killed many people in the history of America.  The disease has caused much suffering from hacking, bloody coughs, debilitating pain in their lungs, and fatigue.  

One of these poor souls to enter a sanatorium with tuberculosis was Betty MacDonald.  What probably had been a turbulent and frightening time in her life, Ms. MacDonald relayed the events and her time at the “Pines” sanatorium with humorous and witty dialogue.  Her vivid descriptions of daily life and her fellow residents painted a clear and precise picture in my mind and I could visualize everything perfectly as the story progressed.  The retelling of how patients were treated stirred up some anger and sadness within me and I can’t imagine even living under some of the circumstances and conditions, but Ms. MacDonald brought humor and wittiness throughout which made The Plague and I a delightful read.  One thing is certain; I have a greater appreciation for modern medicine after listening to this book!

The Plague and I is narrated by Heather Henderson and her performance was spectacular and hands-down amazing.  In my opinion, her voice of Betty MacDonald is perfect and I feel as though Ms. MacDonald is telling me the story herself.  Each of the other characters in the story has their own distinct voice and each one was perfect.  The production quality of this audio book was very good.  Each chapter started and ended with a musical clip.  I don’t normally like when music is inserted within an audio book, but this time I thought that it really added to the story and each clip was short and the music was from that time period, which I happen to love.

Overall, despite the gloomy topic, this was a delightful book to listen to and I found myself laughing throughout.  The Plague and I was well-written, with charming characters and a story line that was both educational and amusing. Ms. MacDonald was a gifted and talented story-teller and when added with the awesomeness of Ms. Henderson’s many voices really blends everything together beautifully and effortlessly.  I am a big fan of both Betty MacDonald and Heather Henderson - knowing that without a doubt that I am guaranteed a great read when it comes to this combination of author and narrator.

Story – 4 stars
Performance – 5 stars
Overall – 4.5 stars

I received this audiobook as part of my participation in a blog tour with Audiobookworm Promotions. The tour is being sponsored by Post Hypnotic Press, Inc. The gifting of this audiobook did not affect my opinion of it.

Click HERE to listen to an Excerpt

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, andThe 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 biography of this endearing Northwest storyteller, reveals the story behind the memoirs and the difference between the real Betty MacDonald and her literary persona.

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


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