Do you get along with your relatives? Could you stay with them for a week, a month, or a year? Most would say “No way.” I’d quickly agree. However, in They Loved to Laugh by Kathryn Worth, an orphaned teen was forced to live in a mostly-male-family, except for the mom and daughter.
Set in North Carolina in the 1830s, this book centers around Martitia, a recently-orphaned 16-year-old. In a neighbor’s hospitality, Dr. David Worth, a Quaker, takes in Martitia, a Presbyterian. The only problem, his household is full of five boys, who are constantly tackling & teasing the newcomer. Their sister, Ruth, is also tormenting Martitia by always criticizing Martitia for not being able to accomplish chores.
However, it is Grandfather Daniel, who gives Martitia an insight on the Worth’s boys odd personalities, and helps her understand how to understand and learn to love this new family.
From the back cover: “Jonathan came up first. He looked down at Martitia with irrepressible amusement lurking in his hazel eyes.““So little are you, Martitia. So little and so solemn. If you would only laugh back at us maybe we’d let you alone. Can’t you learn to laugh too?”
Martitia refused to answer him.
He leaned over and picked her up lightly. “Come, Martitia, I’ll carry you across the stream.”He walked out surely on the log, with Martitia held in his easy grasp. She felt secure at last.
Then, right in the middle of the stream, Jonathan jumped over into the creek with her!It was as sudden as that. One minute she was held securely and dry and safe in Jonathan’s arms on the log. Next minute she was scrambling and pawing in the waters of the creek. Martitia wondered, wildly, if moccasins and leeches and lizards were feeding on her already. Blind with water, she struggled toward the bank of the creek. Slipping and weeping, she reached the edge. She stood there a minute, her muslin dress dankly dripping. Then without a backward look at her tormentors she fled weeping up the path in the direction of home. Behind her the sound of giant laughter pursued her all the way to the springhouse.
Martitia’s uncle from Virginia eventually comes in order to take her back to Virginia with him. Martitia has a decision to make – stay with her tormentors or go back to a life of luxury with relatives she barely knows.
Although at the beginning, I wasn’t sure I was going to like this book. I enjoyed this book and recommend it for learning about farm life during the 1830s.
Although this book can suit 10-year-olds and older, I’d like to warn you – there is a cuss word.
We used this book for Language Arts as a literature pick while I was studying American History.
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