MacDonald, Betty. Onions in the Stew. Philadelphia: JB Lippincott, 1954.
Reason read: to finished the series started in April in honor of Humor Month.
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.
Author fact: MacDonald might be better known for her Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle stories for children, but Onions in the Stew was delightful.
Book trivia: Onions in the Stew is another memoir about Betty MacDonald’s life. The Egg and I and The Plague and I are two others. These do not necessarily need to be read in order to be fully enjoyed.
Playlist: “Tangerine,” “Rock of Ages,” “You’re Mine, You,” “Embraceable You,” “Sweet Lorraine,” “Walkin’ My Baby Back Home,” “Paper Moon,” Frank Sinatra, Frankie Laine, Billie Holliday, and King Cole.
Nancy said: Pearl mentioned Onions in the Stew as one of those books that will be so funny you will fall off your chair from laughing.
BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “Tickle Your Funny Bone” (p 218).
Guterson’s fall back on the descriptions of mildew and a soggy wetness happened enough times that I felt like I had to wring myself out periodically. Snow Falling on Cedars (for those of you who haven’t seen the movie) is about a Washington state coastal community rocked by scandal. A fisherman is found dead in the water. Evidence at the scene points to foul play and incriminates an obvious suspect: a man who has had a well-known, long-standing family grudge against the victim. The most alluring characters are the accused’s wife and a winsome reporter covering the case. Of course, there is history between them and that only complicates the case.
Aside from being “damp” I thoroughly enjoyed Guterson’s novel (liked it better than the movie, of course). The characters are intricate enough that I felt like I was progressively getting to know them as I would in real life. Coming from a close-knit, teeny-tiny fishing community I could relate to the drama and intensity the trial brought to it. Of course, no love story would be complete without a heart wrenching love triangle and this one lives up to the drama.
BookLust Twist: From Book Lust in the chapter called “What a Trial That Was!” (p 244). Oh! And also from More Book Lust in the chapter called “Living High in Cascadia” (p 153).