Kathy's Reviews > Joy in the Morning

Joy in the Morning by Betty  Smith
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's review
Jun 04, 2010

liked it
bookshelves: fiction, love-stories, book-club
Read in November, 2010

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, by this author, is one of my favorite books of all time. I've read it many times and it really feels like a part of me. Whenever I read it I feel like I'm going back to visit old friends. I have meant to read Joy in the Morning for years, but somehow didn't get around to it until it was chosen for my book club. I fully expected to love it, but it somehow didn't do the same thing for me that A Tree Grows in Brooklyn did, although I did like it. I think it threw me off at the beginning. First of all the title comes from the scripture verse I think, "weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning." The first chapter introduces a young couple getting married. The girl, Annie, reminded me in many ways of Francie from A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, giving me the impression that the author probably based both characters on herself. In that first chapter I saw some behaviors and attitudes in the husband, Carl, that concerned me, so I thought I had it all worked out. They were going to have a very difficult marriage, probably ending unhappily, representing the weeping in the night, and then joy would come in the morning with some kind of happy ending where Annie moves on stronger into a new life. Well, hopefully it's not a spoiler to say that I was completely wrong about the plot. It was more about defying expectations and working through challenges, coming out stronger, which is very good but I just kept being thrown off by what I expected. I also kept getting thrown out of the story because of Annie's interest in reading and writing. I couldn't help but wonder how much was based on the author's life and if she had had some of the same experiences. At one point she writes a little play based on a conversation with Carl, but the outcome is completely different in the way he reacts to things she says and the way the scene ends. I found that really interesting because that is probably what the author does. She takes things from her own life and then changes them to be the way she wished they had been or to be more interesting. So really I think most of the problems I had with it were my own fault, my expectations and my pulling out of the story to analyze and wonder about the author. I do think that even without me doing that, it is not as good of a story as A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. It doesn't have the same scope. It is limited to this couple and their little world and a fairly limited period of time, where A Tree Grows in Brooklyn covered quite a few years and delved into multiple generations and outside stories. Still, it was entertaining and there were some parts I really liked. I'm not sorry at all that I read it, it just didn't quite live up to my high expectations.

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