Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Anybody Can Do Anything ~ ~ ~ Audiobook Tour

Author: Betty MacDonald

Narrator: Heather Henderson

Length: 8 hours 30 minutes

Publisher: Post Hypnotic Press⎮2016

Genre: Humor, Memoir


"The best thing about the Depression was the way it reunited our family and gave my sister Mary a real opportunity to prove that anybody can do anything, especially Betty."
 After surviving both the failed chicken farm - and marriage - immortalized in The Egg and I, Betty MacDonald returns to live with her mother and desperately searches to find a job to support her two young daughters. With the help of her older sister Mary, Anybody Can Do Anything recounts her failed, and often hilarious, attempts to find work during the Great Depression.

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HALL WAYS AUDIOBOOK REVIEW: (listened at 1.25x)  Anybody Can Do Anything is the third of Betty MacDonald's memoirs (and the second I've listened to), and it doesn't disappoint. With the excellent narrator Heather Henderson returning, readers will be transported right into the arms -- or armpit -- of MacDonald's like during the Great Depression.

I was expecting this book to pick-up where MacDonald's prior memoir, The Plague and I, left off, but these memoirs don't go sequentially. The Egg and I was about her life as the wife of an egg farmer in the 20s, Plague was mostly about MacDonald's experiences in the late 30s, but in this book, we are back to MacDonald's childhood for a fair amount at the start, jump to MacDonald leaving her husband, skip over her bout with tuberculosis, and then focus on her life in the Great Depression years.

"Life was as neatly folded and full of promise 
as the morning newspaper."

The aptly titled Anybody Can Do Anything is all about MacDonald's (and certainly her sister's) perseverance through one hurdle after another and especially applying for jobs even when completely unqualified for them. As Betty's sister Mary would say, why not? MacDonald keeps the reader engaged with the hilarious anecdotes relating to these jobs and her epic fails at them.  Betty NEVER overestimates her abilities and was even certain her book was a failure after she submitted the manuscript for her first book.

Betty's older sister Mary is as main a character in the book as Betty. Mary is truly a piece of work, and the steady stream of childhood hijinks may make readers wonder if she had a death wish for young Betty.  As the sisters grow into adults, Mary is Betty and the whole family's cheerleader and ultimately helps Betty find her vocation as a writer.

For modern readers, the snapshot of Depression era living is startling, with hard to believe prices for goods and services (twelve cents a pound for ground beef) and MacDonald's descriptive passages bringing it all vividly to life.

"The space-for-rent signs, marking the sudden death of businesses, had sprung up over the city like white crosses on the battlefield."

But despite the extreme conditions, MacDonald speaks of "the warmth and loyalty and laughter of a big family," and how "everyone will shift until you fit." MacDonald and her mother, siblings, and children found happiness, held it together, and even thrived.

With an original publication date of 1948, there are anecdotes and attitudes that are definitely not considered politically correct today, which again illustrate the differences of life eighty plus years ago. There are also situations that show some things never change, like the irony of the debt cycle that can happens when borrowing on credit or working for the government where MacDonald said that never had she seen so many "directors directing directors, supervisors supervising supervisors."

Heather Henderson shines as the audiobook narrator, and she absolutely nails both the humor and melancholy of MacDonald's writing, as she did in The Plague and I.  Henderson knows which words to emphasize in her performance, and she voices multiple characters with humor and finesse. She is particularly clever in voicing a character named Dorita (lots of laughing for me, here) and really brought Dorita's strangeness to peculiar life.

I highly recommend the Anybody Can Do Anything audiobook and would love the print version so I could highlight all the fabulous quotes. I especially love that it was a story that was easy to listen to without having to give it my full attention (while driving or wearing my domestic goddess crown, for example). I am looking forward to reading (with my ears) Betty MacDonald's next memoir, Onions in the Stew, so stay tuned for my review.

Thank you to The Audiobookworm and Post Hypnotic Press for providing me the audiobook in exchange for my honest opinion -- the only kind I give.

MORE COOL STUFF ABOUT MY FAVE, NANCY & PLUM:  If you have followed my posts for long, you might have noticed that my favorite childhood chapter book is Betty MacDonald's lesser known story, Nancy and Plum (which I mentioned recently At the end of my The Plague and I post). In Anybody Can Do Anything, readers find out that Nancy & Plum started as a childhood story that Betty told Mary in bed at night for years and years. In grade school, she told the story to the neighborhood kids who, as payment to hear the story installments, had to carry stones to a water well (a punishment that had actually been given to Betty and Mary for misbehaving).

Click the Play button to listen to an excerpt
of Anybody Can Do Anything on Sound Cloud

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 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.

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 AudioEloquence.com, 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.

Anybody Can Do Anything Giveaway #1

Anybody Can Do Anything Giveaway #2

Anybody Can Do Anything Giveaway #3

Feb. 8: Dab of Darkness (Review & Giveaway)
Feb. 9: Avid Book Collector (Review, Spotlight, Audio Excerpt & Giveaway)
Feb. 10: The Phantom Paragrapher (Spotlight & Audio Excerpt)
Feb. 19: The Pursuit of Bookishness (Review, Audio Excerpt & Giveaway)
Feb. 20: Ali the Dragon Slayer (Review & Giveaway)
Feb. 21: Hall Ways (Review, Audio Excerpt & Giveaway)
Feb. 22: Mel's Shelves (Review)
Feb. 24: He Said Books Or Me (Review)
Feb. 25: Jorie Loves A Story (Review)
Feb. 26: A Page To Turn (Spotlight & Audio Excerpt)
Feb. 27: Bound4Escape (Review & Giveaway)
Feb. 28: Country Girl Bookaholic (Spotlight)
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1 comment:

  1. Thanks for participating in our audiobook tour! So glad you are enjoying Betty MacDonald. We want the world to rediscover this great writer. :)