Friday, March 31, 2017

Audio Book Review ~ Onions in the Stew by Betty Macdonald, Narrated by Heather Henderson

Onions in the Stew
by Betty MacDonald
Narrator: Heather Henderson
Length: 9 hours 40 minutes
Publisher: Post Hypnotic Press
Audio Release Date: 2016
Genre: Humor, Memoir

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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.

Onions in the Stew is Betty MacDonald’s fourth memoir and it is so hilarious! There is really no set theme in this installment, just a collection of humorous moments from Betty’s life living on Vashon Island during and after World War 2 with her second husband and two daughters.  It was such a treat to peek back in time through Ms. MacDonald’s words and her amazing ability to turn any horrible event into something that will have you laughing at loud.  Raising two teenage girls is a challenging feat for any mother, but Ms. MacDonald’s witty humor made it sound like a whole lot of fun.
Heather Henderson narrates Onions in the Stew, and she does an outstanding job once again with this installment. I can’t think of another narrator that could even come close to the exceptional talent of Ms. Henderson.  As I have stated in previous audio book reviews from this author, her voice of Betty MacDonald is perfect and I feel as though Ms. MacDonald is in the room with me.  Ms. Henderson is also able to give each of the characters a distinct voice which I think really adds to the story.  I don’t feel as though I am being read to, instead I feel as though I am right there with each of the characters – which makes this a wonderful listening experience.  The production quality of this recording is top notch and the narration flows effortlessly. 

Onions in the Stew was exceptionally well-written and with the charming characters and numerous laugh-out-loud moments makes this one book that I would highly recommend to just about anyone who is needing an uplifting and funny reading/listening experience.  You really can’t go wrong with this title and is well worth a credit.

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.

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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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