They Loved to Laugh
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They Loved to Laugh

4.27 of 5 stars 4.27  ·  rating details  ·  476 ratings  ·  66 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...more
Paperback, 254 pages
Published April 1st 1997 by Bethlehem Books (first published 1942)
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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!
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 20, 2007 Rose rated it 5 of 5 stars
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
Jennifer Griffith
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
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.
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.
Heidi Zimmer
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.
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.
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!
a delightful fun read that was both entertaining and interesting. I would obviously recommend highly.
This was my favorite book ever when I was young.
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...more
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...more
Tina Weaver
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...more
Heidi Busch
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...
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...more
Katherine Gingrich
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...more
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...more
Tina Mclain
It was really good. I love these sort of stories. It reminded me of these two books: flambards and up a road slowly.
Martitia is orphaned when her parents both die from illness. The doctor that comes to help them takes her home with him until her aunt and uncle can be contacted.
This only child must choose between a leisure life without love with her rich aunt and uncle, or with love and hard work on a farm with a Quaker family with 12 children.
Will serious Martitia ever learn to live with the teasing of the five Gardner boys, and will she ever learn to laugh as much as they do? And which of the boys that fall...more
Barbara James-Richardson
I enjoyed when I was a child and loved it
Yes, it was that good.
when I first started this book I was with the main character, I thought the brothers were rude and mean. They treated the orphan unpleasantly. As the book progressed and the orphan started to warm up to the other characters and understand their personalities; I also started to warm up to them. The main character's interactions with the other characters shaped who she became. After she lived with them for a few years she had adapted and changed for the better. Very subtle. A very good book.
I remembered this book so well from reading it years ago. I remember my worry about the two boys that loved her and how could that turn out well? I loved Martitia's hard work to become worthy of being a Gardner daughter. It reminded me some of Understood Betsy. I was also glad that the talents she learned from her mother were useful in the end. Talents Ruth had looked down on. It was good that the two girls were able to finally become friends.

Shannon Gordon remembered this one from her childhood...more
Kelly R
I took this book to my neighbors pool. While I was dangling my feet in the water I was so distracted by the WONDERFULNESS of the book that I dropped it into the water!

After it was dry enough to continue reading (and maybe even before) I finished it. I loved this book so much!
This was the perfect book for the hopeless romantic in me! And it was funny and sweet and I could relate to it a lot. (I've always felt like the only girl among a million boys)

Martitia is left alone in the world after the death of her parents. A timid and quiet girl, Martitia feels very out of place in the home of the doctor who takes her in. The doctor's family is full of boys; big, loud, laughing boys who delight in practical jokes. Martitia, however, wins a way into their life and their hearts.

This is a sweet, sincere book. I love the gentle flow of the narrative and the true-to-life characters who love in true-to-life ways.
Llinda P.
I've devoured books ever since I learned to read and of all the books I read when I was young (under 13) this is and forever will be my favorite. The characters are funny and brave and very human and I could identify with Martitia even though we we lived in different centuries. I bought it a couple years ago for my then pre-teen granddaughter but I don't think she ever read it. Maybe one day she will. I hope it stays with her as it did with me.
I read this book many years ago when I was a pre-teen, probably around 1977 or 78. I kept my copy, which was very old when I obtained it, and re-read it every 10 yrs. or so. It is one of my top 10 favorite books. It is a very loving but not overly idealized story about a family of boys that takes in an orphaned girl, and details her becoming one of the family. A great, feel-good read, I always cry when I am finished because I don't want it to end!
Gwen Burrow
Don't let the title fool you. Yes, this is one of the most happy-making books on the planet, but it's also one of the saddest. My mom read this aloud to my four sisters and me, and we were all (besides my miserably hard-hearted youngest) in tears. Then I told the story to my writing class, and had six little girls sniffing. And did I mention it ain't fiction? So, tolle, lege.
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Leonid Meteor Shower of 1833 depicted in "They Love to Laugh" 1 5 Nov 26, 2012 06:52AM  
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