" 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.
©1948 Betty MacDonald (P)2016 Post Hypnotic Press Inc.
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I first read MacDonald’s book “The Egg and I” back in 1947. I re-read it again last year. This book “The Plague and I” was originally published in 1948. It tells the story of MacDonald’s diagnosis and year stay in a Tuberculosis Sanatorium in Seattle in 1938-39. This is my first time reading “The Plague and I”; somehow I missed reading it years ago.
I did my working rotation in a TB Sanatorium in 1961; by 1963 all the TB hospitals were closed as antibiotics were so successful in treating the disease. It just took a few years to work out the most effective combination of antibiotics. It was like a miracle.
It was devastating to get TB and have to take a year out of your life to be in a TB hospital. TB was a contagious disease and the patient had to be kept away from society until they could no longer transmit the disease. The reader should also remember that TB was and is still a big killer. It is amazing that MacDonald dealt with the situation is such a positive manner and with such humor. The facility MacDonald was in mixed all the races and ethnic group together which was unusual for the time, which Macdonald turned into funny stories. MacDonald provides good descriptions about the various treatments and surgery used at that time. The book does provide a glimpse into medical history. The end of the book MacDonald reveals the difficulties a person had in adjusting to society again after being confined to a Sanatorium for one or more years.
The book is well written in a straight forward, easy to read manner with lots of humor. Who said reading a memoir is boring. Heather Henderson does an excellent job narrating the book.
"Laughing All The Way"
Not better, just a different way to read. Plus at this point in time you need to look for a used copy to read the book. I have been on a campaign to get this book on Kindle for several years, but it hasn't happened, yet.
Betty's first night at The Pines.
Betty Bard Macdonald
When Betty got a job offer at the end of the story.
For anyone who hasn't connected the dots, Betty Bard MacDonald was the author of The Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle books for children which I have wonderful memories of growing up. She also authored several autobiographical books for adults. She told the story of her family and of her years growing up, of her time raising chickens with her husband and in particular, this book, my favorite, "The Plague and I". This is the story of Betty's time in a tubercular sanatorium in Washington state back in the thirties. At this point in time there were no drugs that could effectively treat TB and it was becoming rampant in this country. In this era, people were many times ordered into sanatoriums in an attempt to get their illness under control and effect a cure as well as to protect the public. Betty went voluntarily and this is the story of her treatment and cure. Lest you think this sounds too depressing for words, let me just say that Betty MacDonald was a top humorist of her time. Before you know it you will find yourself laughing out loud if not rolling on the floor. I have read this book at least a dozen times over many years and it never gets old. I know I will listen to the audio book many more times. Please give this book a listen, you won't regret it!!
"I've long awaited the audio release of this book."
A wonderful storyteller, Betty MacDonald, reels you in and keeps you engaged with wit as she tackles a very serious subject. I nearly cried because I never wanted this tale to end.
"Good lesson in choosing to be positive!"
After she came back home-trying to figure out how to live on 'the outside'.
I sure did learn a lot about recovering in a sanitarium! I cannot imagine staying there for so long! And quietly. And here she comes away with her sense of humor. What a gem.
"A fascinating look into a tuberculosis hospital!"
Betty MacDonald’s humorous accounts of life continue! This time, she takes us through the year she spent in a tuberculosis sanitorium in Washington in 1938. She pokes fun at everyone, including herself.
This was such a fun book! I know, I’m saying that about a woman’s story of a year away from her life (kids, family, work, fun, friends, etc.), and I may have to spend a little time in purgatory for having laughed so much at such a serious subject. Betty MacDonald does a great job of telling how truthfully horrible being sick is, but also laughing at the situation herself.
I really enjoyed her previous book, The Egg and I, andI found this book even more enjoyable. Tuberculosis isn’t fun for anyone, but in the late 1930s, treatment was something that put your life on hold. Betty was lucky to have spent only a year in the sanitorium. She was also lucky to have close family nearby to take care of her young girls while she was away. Also, she found a sanitorium that offered her free treatment, based on her need. Of course, since she was there are charity, the staff often reminded her that if she didn’t adhere to the strict rules (many of which made little to no sense), she would be asked to leave, still sick.
While there is humor throughout this book, I was also fascinated by life in a sanitorium in the 1930s. It seems the staff were perpetually afraid of the patients commingling and hitting up quickie romances; I think Betty had never received so much warnings against lust in her life! Then there were other rules, like how often a patient was allowed to pee in a day, women patients not being allowed the papers (because it would excite them too much and tax their brains!), and how tatting was allowed but not composing a book.
Patients weren’t allowed to bathe often – once a week for a bath and once a month for hair washing! If family and friends brought special food on their limited visits, all food had to be eaten before the end of the day and whatever wasn’t had to be tossed! Can you imagine receiving a favorite batch of cookies and having to give up any uneaten ones to the trash?
I also had a morbid fascination with the medical practices of the time as well. Betty does a great job describing them from the patient’s view point. In The Egg and I, there were some disparaging racial remarks made. For this book, I am happy to say that Betty points out the silliness of such attitudes of other patients (which were directed at Japanese and African-Americans). All around it’s a very entertaining book and a fascinating look into medical care in the late 1930s.
I received a free copy of this book via The Audiobookworm.
The Narration: Heather Henderson has done another great job portraying Betty MacDonald with her narration of this book. I really enjoyed her warm voice for all the humor. During the occasional serious or emotional moment, she did a wonderful job of imbuing the characters with emotion.
"The sharp wit, charm, eagle-eyed observations and"
After listening to the audiobook ‘The Egg and I’ I leapt at the chance of listening to ‘The Plague and I’. Now bear in mind this is OLD fashioned and thankfully the treatment of TB has improved drastically over the years. This follows the plight of Betty as she spends nearly a year in a sanitarium in the USA in the 1930’s ish.
I am already listening to another book by Betty.
At that time the dreaded disease was a killer and the only possible cure was total rest. How can you possibly have an entire book based around this without it being boring I hear you ask? Well ….. you need to meet Betty!!
The sharp wit, charm, eagle-eyed observations and pure sarcasm are sheer magic. She describes in length the whole rigmoral of the routine followed, the rather meagre conditions, these days it would be considered patient abuse to shiver with cold as the charge nurse insists the windows are flung open in mid-winter!
You can almost taste the food yuck! The description of each of her room mates is either hilarious or hideous. I can’t imagine she was an easy person to be confined to bed next to.
As time goes on and her home life seems a distant memory with limited visits allowed from family, Betty can only dream of escape. First she has to complete each treatment and move to the next section. The whole story depends on whether or not she can survive or go home. And IF she does go home will she ever be able to adapt to normality again after being institutionalised for so long. I found the mental dilemma one of the most fascinating aspects of the story.
The audiobook is over 8 hours long but it speeds by, highly enjoyable, great narration that lures the listener in. I highly recommend this if you want a cure for feeling sorry for yourself .. not sure it would be ideal for hypochondriacs though! I am already listening to another book by Betty.
I voluntarily ‘read’ and reviewed this, thanks to Jess at AudioBookWorm and of course the publishers, author, narrator etc.
"Narrator nails MacDonald's wit and sarcasm"
Being transported back into the 1930s and the ridiculous rituals and rules of patients' health care in a sanitarium.
Betty MacDonald, the narrator, was the best character because of her insightful observations and wit in a situation where others might wilt.
How Kimi would fake ailments and discomforts to get what she wanted.
Getting healthy might make you sick.
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