Book Review: “Lessons from the Mountain: What I Learned from Erin Walton” by Mary McDonough

MarysBookIf you are around my age or older, you probably remember her as “Erin” on “The Waltons”. Yet, she truly has become so much more than the girl we knew as “Erin Walton”.

If you are not familiar with “The Waltons”, it ran for nine seasons, from 1971 to 1981, and in my humble opinion, is only one of the best all around “family shows” ever. It was created by Earl Hamner, Jr., and much of the setting and storyline was inspired by his own childhood and family. Following 7 children growing up in the time of the Great Depression on “Walton’s Mountain”,  it chronicles family life in the time of World War II, their struggles, as well as their triumphs. Indeed, I can honestly say, I grew up watching “The Waltons” and many of my own “life lessons” were learned from watching the show. If you have never watched it, it is now on INSP, and on Hallmark starting Monday, February 23rd, and I strongly recommend that you take the time to sit down with your family and enjoy an episode or two. I can almost assure you that after one or two shows, you will be hooked! You’ll feel right at home! I can honestly say, I have a personal goal of eventually owning all nine seasons of it on DVD. If anyone knows of a channel or times that I don’t (may vary depending on where you live) feel free to comment and update me on that.

I had the wonderful experience of meeting Mary at her book signing in Lynchburg, VA at the Barnes & Noble there, and I can honestly say, her warm and friendly down home personality made it a truly memorable experience. I remember thinking the only thing missing was the old front porch!

Mary and me at her book signing for “Lessons  From The Mountain…” at Barnes & Noble in Lynchburg, VA.
Me@MaryMBooksign - Copy

It was truly an inspirational turning point in my life, meeting someone like Mary, who has accomplished so much in her life. My girls and I had made it a “girls’ retreat”, and were staying at a cabin not far away from there. I’ll have to say, I truly love Virginia. I stood there, out on the deck that evening, breathing in the fresh mountain air as it blew through the trees, not a sound other than that, except for a rather unique bird calling in the distance.

Now…close your eyes for a moment. Imagine you are sitting out on the porch with The Waltons. You can hear the old front screen door slamming, and the sounds of seven barefoot children growing up in the Depression going in and out, all the talks, the laughter, the tears, and the most memorable scenes playing before you once again. I think one of my favorite episodes of all was the one where Grandma came home after she had had her stroke.

The cameras have long since packed up and gone elsewhere. The lights have faded, and the set of the old house has been taken down and used for other productions. But the pretty, red haired, freckle-faced girl we all knew as “Erin” has gone on to become so much more than just “Erin Walton”. She is not only a well known and talented actress, but a writer, producer, director, and now life coach, motivating and coaching people on how to change their lives for the better. She’s even written and directed her own movie, “For the Love of May”.

In her book, “Lessons From The Mountain, What I Learned From Erin Walton”, Mary takes us once more down that old dirt road in time, to that old house on “Walton’s Mountain”, delighting us with behind the scenes memories, and introducing us a little more closely to the members of her “Walton family”. We also get to meet Mary’s real life family, as she shares photos of them as well as some of her most memorable moments in her early career.

As a child actress, Mary suffered from self image and confidence issues, and the pressures of fame; and, in “Lessons From the Mountain, What I Learned From Erin Walton”, she gets up close and personal with us about the life lessons her years on the mountain taught her, and how she eventually overcame her struggles. A truly inspiring and insightful book, Mary dedicates it especially to anyone who has ever known what it is like to feel like they are “not enough”. In the latter part of the book, she shares her experience with the health problems she suffered after having had breast implants that leaked, consequently causing her to develop Lupus, and her dedicated involvement in campaigning for women’s rights in the years afterward.

The Waltons cast members recently celebrated the 40th Anniversary of the show, with funds going to benefit Environmental Charter Middle School, of which Kami Cotler, who played “Elizabeth” on “The Waltons”, is the principal. “The Waltons” remains one of my favorite television shows of all time.

Mary took the lessons the “mountain” taught her and has done more than overcome her challenges with grace. She not only shares with us an intimate portrait of how she’s done this in her book, but now enjoys helping others to learn how to value themselves more positively and reach their fullest potential as a life coach. To find out more or set up an appointment, or just see what she’s up to, you can visit her web page at You can also order copies of her book from her website or on Amazon or Barnes (and) Noble.

So you can take a trip back in time, back down the old dirt path, sit on the porch for a spell with Grandma, Grandpa, and the rest of the Walton “family”, with Mary as once more, somewhere in that place where we store our fondest memories, the cameras roll, and our favorite scenes come to life once again. “Lessons From the Mountain, What I Learned From Erin Walton”, simply a must read for anyone who has ever loved “The Waltons”! Also, Mary now has a new book coming out, titled “One Year”, which is available for preorder through her website, which now has a great new look! Visit and learn more about her books at


Mary also has something new she is starting. You’ll want to be sure to subscribe to “Minutes with Mary” on YouTube! If you’ve missed the first few, it’s not too late! See her page for more on this or her other services.  She is also on Facebook, as well as several of the other members of her “Walton family”.  So of course, as you can see, she has become so much more than just “Erin Walton”! After all, it’s all her way of “giving back” as she says in her book, “Lessons From  The Mountain, What I Learned From Erin Walton”.

Once more the cameras zoom in on the old house as the lights go out, and we hear the crickets as everyone says good night… “Good night, Grandpa, Good night, Grandma! Good night Ma! Good night Pa! Good night John Boy! Good night, Jim Bob! Good night, Jason! Good night, Ben! Good night Mary Ellen! Good night, Erin! Good night, Elizabeth!
Good night, Mary!
Good night, Ike Godsey! Good night, Cora Beth! Good night, “Daddy” Walton (Ralph Waite), You will truly be fondly remembered and deeply missed!


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