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Joy in the Morning

3.89  ·  Rating Details ·  5,315 Ratings  ·  569 Reviews
A timeless classic is reborn!
From Betty Smith - author of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, one of the most beloved novels of the past century - comes an unsentimental yet radiant and powerfully uplifting tale of young hearts and marriage.

In 1927, in Brooklyn, New York, Carl Brown and Annie McGairy meet and fall in love. Though only eighteen, Annie travels alone halfway across the
Paperback, 296 pages
Published July 1st 2000 by Harper Perennial Modern Classics (first published 1963)
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Ruth It's not called Ann Arbor, though it sounds as if much of the book matches the author's life. I thought it was poorly written and pretty "hokey."…moreIt's not called Ann Arbor, though it sounds as if much of the book matches the author's life. I thought it was poorly written and pretty "hokey." Guess I'll have to read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn to see if she really can write.(less)

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Sarah Beth
May 18, 2007 Sarah Beth rated it it was amazing
Shelves: age23, borrow-able, age-30
This is one of the loveliest, sweetest books I've ever read. It takes a mental adjustment to appreciate the time period, so don't get thrown off by the relationship in the early pages of the book. The reward of watching the young couple's first year of marriage unfold makes the early awkwardness, and, frankly, shocking first bits worth it and actually understandable. This is not a plot driven book, but really a sweet story of young love at a "middle western" college.
Aug 04, 2016 Trish rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Oh, this is just the sweetest, most realistic story of two young adults who are in love and naively believe that being together forever will solve all their problems. Annie and Carl quickly realize that getting married against their families' wishes will be the least of their worries. Annie is a dreamer, a reader, a warm and personable girl that everyone can't help but love. Carl is smart, passionate, funny and diligent, a hardworking guy who earns respect and kindness from all the superiors in ...more
Apr 13, 2008 Amy rated it really liked it
Shelves: my-favorites
My mom passed this along to me a few years ago, and I finally picked it up this week after reading something about it on someone's blog. It's hard not to love Betty Smith after "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn," so I was optimistic about this one. It was very similar in style and pace to the aforementioned... unsentimental but leaving you cheering for the characters, hoping for them. I really wanted their lives to get easier, really wanted them to keep loving each other and not give up in spite of thei ...more
Jul 21, 2008 Karen rated it liked it
I love Betty Smith. If I could be a writer, I would hope my work would be similar to her style. She grew up in Brooklyn, and is most known for her book "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn," which still ranks as my #1 book.

I appreciate the way Betty Smith can make you attach to characters. You feel like you are peeking into their windows and watching it first hand.

This story is based around a young, married couple in the 1920s, trying desperately to stay afloat. It is a struggle without feeling like a str
Annie McCarty
Jul 04, 2007 Annie McCarty rated it it was amazing
This book is endearing from the very first page. I read it in middle school, after a friend (Leah!) recommended it to me, and immediately fell in love with Annie (it helps that we share the same name!). I had already read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, but this wasn't anything like I expected. Annie is completely charming, and will sweep you off your feet with her wholesome and winsome ways. The book follows Annie and Carl's lives as a poor but earnest newlywed couple in the 1920's. Their dialogue is ...more
Aug 10, 2012 Emily rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Everybody seems to be comparing this book to A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, which is one of my favorite books of all time. You cannot compare this book or any book to A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. It is a classic and will always be one of the best. However, this book by itself is utterly charming and wonderful. One of the opening chapters where Annie, who has little education but loves reading and writing, says funnel-melody when she was trying to say fundamentally in a conversation with Carl melted my h ...more
Jun 20, 2009 Susann rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Susann by: Lani
I loved every page of this sweet and honest look at the first year and a half of marriage for young Annie and Carl. It's impossible to not love Annie from the moment she babbles - in her thick Brooklyn accent - to the Town Hall marriage clerk about all the Middle West books she's read. The love between Carl & Annie is true and, yes, uplifting. But Smith never descends into schmaltz or sentimentality.

Because this is such a seemingly simple story, I wavered between giving this 4 or 5 stars. B
Spider the Doof Warrior
Mar 01, 2012 Spider the Doof Warrior rated it really liked it
Here I am reading this book again. I love this book, but, it's interesting to learn so much about 1928. The money, for one thing gets a bit confusing as you could get so much more with 1 dollar back then than now.
The frustrating thing is how few choices a woman had back then. Annie's main purpose was to get married and have babies even though she was somewhat smarter than her husband who would become a lawyer. Sometimes Carl would get so mad at her when she just wanted to do her own thing and s
Oct 20, 2008 Amy rated it it was amazing
There was something so very special about this book to me. I wanted to read this one by Betty Smith because I liked "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn" so much and I was also looking for a little nostalgia.

Boy did I get nostalgia with this book. I love stories from the early 20th Century. We tend to romanticize that period of American History. I do anyway. There's something about the struggles and the ethics of those times that we refer to as "simpler".

I guess they were simple, yet I don't think people
Mar 22, 2008 Brian rated it liked it
Recommends it for: anyone who liked "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn"
After reading and finishing "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn," also by Betty Smith, I wanted to read something else that she wrote, so I picked up "Joy in the Morning," which she wrote 20 years later. It held my interest and was a quick read. Like "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn," "Joy in the Morning" is a novel with an auto-biographical theme. It provides a fictionalized account of Betty Smith's first year of marriage to a law student attending a mid-western university (the University of Michigan in Ann Arb ...more
Bailey Marissa
Mar 11, 2016 Bailey Marissa rated it it was amazing
A cute story about a young married couple's first year/year and a half of marriage.

Also, it has something that I feel most people writing romance should pay attention to. You ready?

It's a little thing called COMMUNICATION. THEY TALK THEIR PROBLEMS OUT AND IT IS BEAUTIFUL. Seriously, no more miscommunication in relationships. It's not necessary and also very annoying. *Gets off soapbox*

15+ for marital discussions that are blunt (but not graphic) and language
Apr 04, 2008 Andrea rated it liked it
If I could, this would be 3.5 stars. I felt like I was falling in love again for the first time with my husband. This story was a sweet love story and really had me reminising about courtship and being a newlywed. Anyone who has been poor and struggling as a newlywed, but so in love that it doesn't matter, will love relating to this book. It is an easy read and lighthearted.
Beth Gordon
Apr 06, 2012 Beth Gordon rated it really liked it
I picked this book up because I loved A Tree Grows in Brooklyn so much. Written by the same author, this is a sweet story about the first year of marriage of two young people set in the late 1920s. They love each other, want to be together, are a little naive, their families aren't supportive of them marrying so young, but they set out to prove that they can do it. I particularly enjoy it because neither give up their passion (him for completing law school, her for her reading/writing). They lea ...more
Kressel Housman
What amazed me the most about Betty Smith in the stage when I was devouring all her books was that she weaved together such different plots in the same setting: amongst Irish immigrants in Great Depression era New York. The heroine of this book is older and much more outgoing than Francie in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, but she's also literary, and this is the story of how she comes into her own in exploring her gifts.
V. Gingerich
Where have you been all my life?
Jul 11, 2014 Kiersten rated it it was amazing
Betty Smith, author of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, wrote another wonderful book, and I had no idea until last week. This book is set in the late 1920s. Annie, from Brooklyn, marries Carl and moves to the Midwestern university where Carl is a law student.

I believe that with all of the advancements we have made in the last 100 years, we have certainly lost some of the class and sweetness of my grandparent's generation. Annie and Carl are as poor as can be. They immediately face persecution from bot
Oct 24, 2008 Heidi rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 06, 2014 Caren rated it liked it
Shelves: adult-fiction
This was recommended to me by a colleague. A nice little romance, it is the story of the first year in the marriage of a couple in 1927. The two married against the wishes of their families. He is a law student and she is quite young (she is eighteen, just of age to marry, and he is twenty)but she has already been working for four years. It tells of their difficulties (he in working several jobs while juggling classes, and she of her trouble in finding a job in her new setting). Along the way, s ...more
Dec 31, 2012 Maggie rated it it was amazing
Betty Smith is my writing queen. Such a fabulous book - Smith tells a simple, believable story. It's great because of how unembellished it is. The book is a story of a young married couple who struggles with finances (is there any other kind?) living in the American Midwest during the late 1920s. Carl is a young man of twenty training to be a lawyer, and Annie is his eighteen year old bride. Like all of Smith's books, the story doesn't have much of a concrete plot - it flows along gently with th ...more
Mar 03, 2010 Catherine rated it really liked it
What a sweet, honest, and completely endearing book this was! It's the story of a young marriage in its first year, and yes, while there are 'problems', they don't take over like they might in books written today. I think these days we've gotten a little too used to conflict as the catalyst of our plot trajectories. Anyway, what shines through in this portrayal of Carl and Annie's life together is the LOVE they have for each other, and that they always find their way back to, no matter how diffi ...more
Aug 31, 2015 Ethan rated it it was amazing
While not quite as consistently moving as A Tree Grows In Brooklyn, this was filled with more of Smith's simple and clear language that (and I am paraphrasing Annie Brown from this book) makes the inarticulate articulate.
Smith writes with emotions and her characters feel real.
Following the marriage of Carl and Annie Brown over a couple years in the late twenties, and all the trials and fights and new friends and hardships they face together is really fantastic slice-of-life stuff.
Jun 22, 2009 Jan rated it it was amazing
Shelves: novels
Susann was right!!! This is a wonderful book!

This intimate picture of a young marriage allows one to peek into the heart of Annie who left Brooklyn to marry Carl at the Midwestern university where Carl is in law school. Annie has a kind, sensitive, good heart and it fills the pages with her gentle and enthusiastic perspective on people and life. Oh how I wish there was a sequel!
Arlene Allen
Aug 05, 2010 Arlene Allen rated it it was amazing
I put this in my personal favorites because as a teen and young woman I LOVED this book and resd it over, and over and over. I bought this edition a few years ago and tried to re-read it...and couldn't finish it. Sometimes growing up sucks.
Jan 24, 2011 Alisha rated it really liked it
So good! I tore right through it. I wish their were sequels so I could keep up with their lives. In the first chapter they get married and it's a little suggestive. I was worried that the book might be a little racy, but it wasn't.
May 23, 2017 Marian rated it it was amazing
I read Joy in the Morning when I was quite young, and it was a formative experience for me. I enjoyed it quite a lot as an adult reader, as well. Wonderful characters, beautiful and seemingly effortless writing, and a simple but absorbing story. What can I say. I love this book.
Jan 21, 2008 Chloe rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone who has read A Tree Grows In Brooklyn.
This is the second book I have read by Betty Smith, author of my all-time favorite book, A Tree Grows In Brooklyn. While Joy in the Morning lacks some of the depth of A Tree Grows In Brooklyn, it well worth the read. Smith has a way of describing and alluding to the harsh realities of life without losing the hopefulness of her protagonists. Annie of Joy in the Morning and Francie of A Tree Grows In Brooklyn live in poverty, but they strive and struggle to thrive. But this is no improbable rags t ...more
Jul 09, 2008 Saltlakecityhardys rated it really liked it
A Brooklyn couple marries and heads off to law school. Carl is bright and ambitious and his bride is hardworking and genuine. Through the kindness of a dean she discovers her own gifts even though she is not a student at the university. Annie befriends all that she meets and the reader enjoys many varied characters through her associations and friendships.

Young married life is lean and stressful but love and determination go a long way toward life's successes both interpersonal and academic.
Jun 29, 2009 Kitty rated it did not like it
Had high hopes for this after "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn" and was surprised to be so annoyed by the constant cost breakdown of these character's everyday life, even though this element was present in "Brooklyn."

Also couldn't stand the jerky controlling husband, though I'm guessing his behavior and attitude towards his wife would have been normal and expected during the time the book was written.
Jul 08, 2007 Charlotte rated it really liked it
This is another great book by Betty Smith. I read it shortly after A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, which might have lessened my enjoyment of it a bit. I wouldn't recommend reading them back-to-back as the style is very similar. This story follows Carl and Annie through young love and marriage. The reader shares in their experiences of moving to a new town, dealing with pregnancy and trying to survive on very little money. The book is very hopeful and uplifting, without being smarmy.
Mar 05, 2016 Autumn rated it it was amazing
Such a lovely read. Betty has a wonderful way of writing about writers as her characters. An enjoyable read, similar to A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. Both books represent periods of time in her life as well. So interesting. A favorite quote from this book is from page 239, "But a person can't live on bread alone. He should buy hyacinths to feed his soul." Betty also contrasts sometimes simple minded and curious characters with deep, sometimes dark human struggles making very soulful works of art.
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the Goodreads database with this name. See this thread for more information.

Betty Smith (AKA Sophina Elisabeth Wehner): Born- December 15, 1896; Died- January 17, 1972

Born in Brooklyn, New York to German immigrants, she grew up poor in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. These experiences served as the framework to her first novel, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (19
More about Betty Smith...

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“Some people do crossword puzzles. I do books.” 22 likes
“Did you ever see so many pee-wee hats, Carl?"
"They're beanies."
"They call them pee-wees in Brooklyn."
"But I'm not in Brooklyn."
"But you're still a Brooklynite."
"I wouldn't want that to get around, Annie."
"You don't mean that, Carl."
"Ah, we might as well call them beanies, Annie."
"When in Rome do as the Romans do."
"Do they call them beanies in Rome?" she asked artlessly.
"This is the silliest conversation...”
More quotes…