aprilhenry (aprilhenry) wrote,

Betty McDonald – why did I never put two and two together?

When I was a kid, I loved the Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle books. And when I was a teen, I found the memoir The Egg and I on my parent’s bookshelves, read it, and fell in love with the author's funny voice. I still remember her talking about her reaction to the Pacific Northwest rain: “"It rained and rained and rained and rained and rained. It drizzled -- misted -- drooled -- spat -- poured -- and just plain rained ... . Along about November I began to forget when it hadn't been raining and became as one with all the characters in all of the novels about rainy seasons, who rush around banging their heads against the walls, drinking water glasses of straight whiskey and moaning, 'The rain! The rain! My God, the rain!"”

I also read Onions in the Stew. (I never got my hands on The Plague and I, about her stint in a TB sanitarium, which would have fascinating – I’ve always thought I should set a book at one, as Andrea Barrett did recently.)

But it wasn’t until I was reading today’s Publisher’s Weekly Children’s Bookshelf that I realized all those books had the same author. Read more here.

McDonald was a real ground-breaker in several ways.
1. She toured and signed back in the mid-40s.
2. She also had help from a very clever publicist: “In May of 1946 when International Pictures bought MacDonald's film rights to the book after a Hollywood bidding war, master publicist James S. Moran (1908-1999) generated additional press attention by sitting on an ostrich egg labeled "The Egg And I" for 19 days, 4 hours, and 32 minutes until it hatched.”
3. And she was sued by some neighbors for defaming them, but her defense was that they were composite characters.

Read more here.

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