They Loved to Laugh was recommended by another book blogger (forgive me for not remembering who), but it was a while before I could get my hands on it. Now I’m glad I made the effort.
At first it had the feel of an Anne of Green Gables book: orphan comes to live with family and endears herself to their hearts. But that is where the resemblance ends. Sixteen year old Martitia Howland loses her parents to yellow fever and is adopted by the Quaker doctor who was with them when they died. The book details her next two years in Dr. Gardner’s home as she gets used to his five boisterous sons and one unfriendly daughter. The title refers to the mischief-loving Gardner sons. Yet as the book progresses, we see that under their boyish exteriors, they are kind and thoughtful young men.
There are many things to love about this book. First, religion is mentioned as a matter-of-fact part of their lives, but the book is never preachy. Second, the Quaker “thees” and “thous” are not overdone and give poignancy to several conversations in the story. Third, I admired Martitia’s hard work to earn her place as new daughter. While she learns new skills, the reader also gains insight into how to weave cloth, sheer sheep, churn butter, etc. I learned a lot about farm life in the 1830’s.
You’ll love the Gardner family and you’ll love this book.