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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.
11 of 11 people found this review helpful
Would you consider the audio edition of The Plague and I to be better than the print version?
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.
What was one of the most memorable moments of The Plague and I?
Betty's first night at The Pines.
Which character – as performed by Heather Henderson – was your favorite?
Betty Bard Macdonald
Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?
When Betty got a job offer at the end of the story.
Any additional comments?
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!!
4 of 4 people found this review helpful
I have loved Betty MacDonald's books for over half a century and am so pleased that they are now on Audible. Although this wasn't the voice of Betty that has been in my head all those years, it will do very well and I look forward to listening to Anybody can do Anything and Onions in the Stew (possibly my favourite) with great anticipation. I will listen over and over again as I used to read them over and over again. Thank you so much, Audible.
Who was your favorite character and why?
Betty MacDonald is the obvious first choice followed by Kimi, the intelligent Japanese-American girl who I instantly liked.
Which character – as performed by Heather Henderson – was your favourite?
They were all entertaining. Heather Henderson is a great narrator.
Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?
Betty MacDonald's charm and wonderful, witty observations made her book about a killer disease wonderfully entertaining, but it didn't make me laugh out loud. She is a vivacious writer and I will now try some of her other books.