Thanks to vaccines, tuberculosis is rare in North America today and, thanks to antibiotics, relatively treatable. This wasn’t the case in 1938, when Betty MacDonald was diagnosed.
“Perhaps the funniest book I’ve ever read. But then each time I read The Egg And I, I think the same thing. Both make me snort out loud. I laugh until I weep…” Mrs. Meers, Goodreads, 2008 (print edition).
It was more common and often deadly. The only hope for a cure was treatment in a sanitorium, which was costly. For those who couldn’t afford it, there were public facilities with long wait lists. It was into one of these, Firland Sanitorium (The Pines in The Plague and I), that Betty MacDonald was lucky enough to go in 1938. With the same abundant wry humor and keen observation of people that made her first book, The Egg and I, so immensly popular, MacDonald describes life at The Pines. Her account of her year there is a rare look at a kind of medicine no longer practiced by a rare writer: one of the premiere memoirists of her era, … one of the first Seattleites to achieve world-wide recognition, and … a gifted writer who was able to translate her difficult — even grim — life experiences into books whose biting humor and vivid storytelling strikes readers … both hilarious and reassuring. (Paula Becker, hisotryling.org)