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They Loved to Laugh

4.19  ·  Rating Details  ·  688 Ratings  ·  82 Reviews
Tears and laughter alternate in this novel of a young girl's growth to womanhood in the 1830s.

16-year-old orphan Martitia Howland has been transplanted into a Quaker farm family of five intimidating sons and one disapproving daughter. As Martitia runs their gauntlet, she suffers their teasing but finally begins to bloom. Valiantly she acquires the skills they expect of he
Paperback, 254 pages
Published September 13th 2006 by Bethlehem Books (first published 1942)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,314)
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After her mother dies, shy orphan Martitia is given a home by a lively and affectionate Quaker family in North Carolina. The brothers tease her to death while their sister resents Martitia's delicate white hands and lack of housekeeping skills. Yet it will be an unexpected talent of Martitia's (along with hard work) that saves the family fortunes!
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jennifer Griffith
Mar 17, 2008 Jennifer Griffith rated it it was amazing
A truly delightful read. I cry every time I go through Martitia's trials with her, and as I see her grow through adversity. But I also laugh with her. The portrait Worth painted of life in rural North Carolina seems difficult but less harsh than some of the pioneer accounts, and it contains gems of wisdom for how to live life, to work hard and to love. The cover is a little weird, but don't let that put you off. Keep reading, because the scenes with Martitia and the silk worms are incredible. We ...more
Oct 11, 2015 Martha rated it it was amazing
I love this book! Yes, it is old fashioned and contains some very old fashioned ideas. But the story of a family that accepted an orphan into their midst as their own and teach her to laugh is one that never grows old. One thing, as reading it as an adult, you notice things you didn't notice before.
You realize that this family knew loss and heartache. Yet, they were able to laugh, tease, and sometimes torment each other while showing love. This is set before the time of the War between the stat
Oct 03, 2012 Anne rated it really liked it
Sweet little historical fiction read that I ran across on accident. One of the things that fascinated me personally was the mention of one of their neighbors, Nathan Coffin, in Guilford County, NC. Turns out this Quaker family was acquainted with some of my ancestors, which added an extra level of interest for me.
Nov 20, 2007 Rose rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: adolescents and adults
Shelves: romances
A very simple and moving book, about a Quaker family in an earlier American day. A young girl loses her parents and is taken in by the family of the doctor who had been with them as they died. The doctor's family is Quaker, though the mother and grandfather are the only ones who truly cling to the strong and strict form of their religion. There are five boys who seem huge and overpowering to the small and solemn girl when she first arrives at their home, the more so for their great and frequent ...more
Aug 17, 2014 Mary rated it liked it
I'm feeling generous with ratings today. This was not a well written book and I didn't care for the protagonist much. She does improve once she decides to start growing a spine. The story was predictable, dripping sweet, and the feminists would have a heyday with this. I had to remind myself that just because it was written a long time ago doesn't make it a classic or literature. This was neither. With that said, it was a sweet story about good people and overall left me with a good feeling and ...more
Nov 13, 2014 Hope rated it really liked it
Shelves: light-reading
At first this 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 a ...more
Jan 22, 2016 Smeagol2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: school, 2016
This book is about a very little (in height) 16 year old girl. The book starts with her in a carriage going to a Quakers house after her parents were killed. There she meets five of the most troublesome boys and a coldhearted girl, the sons and daughter of David Gardner. under the wing of Eunice, the mother, Martitia learns to weave, cook, clean, and everything that a good housewife is supposed to know. Her uncle James (who is her closest relative),went to the house and asks for her for the sole ...more
Nov 25, 2013 Kathryn rated it it was amazing
This book was written in 1942. The copy my library got for me has a broken spine and the due date slip in the front. That just added to the charm of this sotry. I'll never really know how to pronounce Martitia's name, but it doesn't matter really. She was a wonderful young lady who survived the loss of her parents and came to live in the Quaker family of Doctor David.
Heidi Zimmer
Jul 21, 2011 Heidi Zimmer rated it it was amazing
I used to devour books when I was a kid, and this book is one of the few that I went back to again and again to read. The characters are so wholesome and goodhearted. And the sweet love story that slowly develops as the little girl grows up is endearing.
Sonnet Medrano
This is one of the sweetest books I've ever read. The story centers on Martitia and the Quaker family who take her in when her parents die. Martitia is intimidated by the boisterous, teasing sons, whose mission it becomes to make Martitia laugh with them in their pranks, and also by the lone daughter, who sternly admonishes Martitia to be useful, because 'every tub must stand on it's own bottom'. Martitia is used to keeping her hands pretty for playing the spinet and painting, so learning to coo ...more
Nov 16, 2009 Nancy rated it it was amazing
I read this book when I was young and just loved it. It reminded me of the two books by Louisa May Alcott, Eight Cousins and Rose In Bloom. This story just warms my heart.
Feb 24, 2010 Erica rated it it was amazing
My family's favorite book! I've read it a million times. Tee writing doesn't stand up against that of other writers, but that never dampened my interest.
Dec 01, 2009 Hannah added it
This one was SO good. The girl is a lot like me.
I'm not very good at understanding some ppls humor....
same as the girl. LOVE THIS BOOK!
Dec 06, 2009 Patriciadubray rated it it was amazing
a delightful fun read that was both entertaining and interesting. I would obviously recommend highly.
Sep 10, 2010 Karen rated it it was amazing
This was my favorite book ever when I was young.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nov 11, 2011 Melrose rated it really liked it
They Love to Laugh
Recently, I read the book “They Loved to Laugh’’ by Kathryn Worth. This book was published by Bethlehem Books in 1942. The number of pages is 254. Various little illustrations are located in the book. Sadly, the illustrations were out of proportion, scarce, and very tiny. The price for this book is about 10 dollars.
This book was about a 16 year old girl, Martitia, whose parents have died. Because of this she goes off to stay with a Quaker family, the Gardeners, till her ric
I wanted to like this, but I just didn't. Something about the writing style and characterization just felt really off.

I found the main character, Martitia, to be a rather insipid protagonist. She was almost like a programmed robot at times. She never seems to know her own mind or figure things out very easily. There was never really any deep insight into what she was thinking or feeling and the characterization felt too simple and shallow. Despite the fact that the book starts out when she's si
Tina Weaver
Oct 22, 2013 Tina Weaver rated it it was amazing
I don't remember why I picked this book as a teenager. Maybe it was the era and I was reading Wagon Train genre. I read this book with outbursts of laughter. The characters lept from the pages and leaned over my shoulder as I read their exploits. I learned to love each and everyone.
From being pellted with apples upon arriving at the farm to learning to do housework to falling off a log into a stream filled with snakes (no snakes but the boys told her they were there) every moment kept me turning
Feb 10, 2015 Jan rated it it was amazing
Oh my goodness....this book had a major influence on me. Read it for the first time in seventh? eighth? grade. I cried and cried over it.

And then, the next year at school, I'd check it out again to cry and cry over it. I really should download it on my Nook so I could cry over it again.

Sniffle....not that it was sad all the way through, just so wonderful to read as a teen. And probably now!!! hahahaha
Heidi Busch
Jul 27, 2014 Heidi Busch rated it really liked it
Shelves: childrens
I remember reading this book when I was in high school or middle school. It was so nice to find it on the shelf in our library. I had forgotten so many parts of this book, although I did remember Ruth's saying, "Every tub ought to stand on its' own bottom." I think it would be an excellent middle school book still, although it's a bit old fashioned, I still laughed and cried right along with the family...
Oct 19, 2013 Kari rated it it was ok
For me, this was a good example of writing style changing in the middle. I read the whole thing in a couple hours, and immediately speed-read almost all of it again to make sure that what I had thought I read at the beginning was what was really on the page, and it was, which I could hardly believe based on the rest of the book.

It was recommended by a lady I don't really know as one of her family's favorite fiction, so I thought maybe it was good. Now I'd say don't bother; stick to Louisa May Al
Oct 20, 2015 Barb rated it really liked it
A very sweet, old fashioned story. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and enjoyed the view of life from some 'friends' as Quakers were known. The people in the story are not religious Quakers, but Quaker by birth and culture. This is a bit of a love story, and very delightful.
Katherine Gingrich
Feb 07, 2012 Katherine Gingrich rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 16-books, 25-books
I absoluty loved this book. Martitia is an orphaned girl who is taken by the doctor who tended her parents to live with him. He has five boys who all tease her mercilessly, and one daughter who resents her for her lack of housekeeping skills due to her upbringing as a 'lady.' While Martitia leans these skills and makes herself into an educated and talented young woman, it is the skills that she cultivated with her mother that end up saving the family from hard times.
The family is Quaker and farm
This is one of my very favorites! But it is super expensive to buy a copy, so not everyone is lucky enough to read it. It is about a quiet, shy girl adopted into a boisterous noisy family of happy Quakers, who attempt to teach her to laugh.
Feb 26, 2010 Hope rated it liked it
Shelves: reviewed
I don't really even know why I read this. It seems almost dorky now, but I was out of things to read and I found this on the shelf, and the title seemed pretty good, I guess, so yeah...

It's about Quakers, though, and unfortunately I've never been too inspired by Quakers... :/
And whenever I said the main character's name: "Martitia" it felt weird on my tongue. I think it's such an awkward, uglyish name. Probably just me. Oh well.

I DID, however, get mad when Clarkson died...because he was better
Feb 23, 2016 C. rated it it was ok
Shelves: borrowed
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 29, 2014 Bookworm rated it it was amazing
A wonderful book portraying a loving Quaker family, in the 1800's, and the shy relative they took in, who "doesn't laugh". Delightful, with humor and a happy ending!
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Leonid Meteor Shower of 1833 depicted in "They Love to Laugh" 1 7 Nov 26, 2012 06:52AM  
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From NCpedia:

Kathryn Worth, writer, was born at the family summer cottage at Wrightsville Beach, the youngest of three children of James Spencer (1869–1900) and Josephine McBryde Worth. Her brother was David Gaston Worth II, her sister Frances McBryde Worth. The Worths were English Quakers who went to North Carolina in 1771 from Nantucket, Mass. The McBrydes moved into the Laurinburg area about 17
More about Kathryn Worth...

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