An orphan's coming-of-age story, with clean romance intertwined throughout. Well worth reading.
Note: This book is recommended by the publisher for ages 12 and up.
It is the year 1831. Martitia Howland, 16, has just lost her parents to typhoid fever. The kindly Dr. David Gardner has taken her into his Quaker household, where she must live alongside five giant, teasing boys. Will she ever learn to laugh at herself and the boys' antics? Or will she always remain sorrowful and grim after her parents' death?
Being Christians, the Gardners lead morally sound lives. Kindness, gentleness, and caring for the sick and poor are qualities that are praised. Although the Gardner boys tease and play pranks on Martitia to her wit's end, it is all done in hopes of making her laugh. Strong family bonds, especially those of siblings, are emphasized. Dr. David's daughter criticizes Martitia multiple times for being lazy and unskilled at housework, but is reprimanded by her mother.
The Gardner family are Christians following Quaker beliefs. Some are strict adherents, while some are more worldly. It is mentioned that Martitia is/was a Presbyterian, although she accompanies the family to Quaker meetings. Bible verses are quoted, and the family prays together before meals and in times of trouble.
Nothing too heavy-handed. A roaming wolf attacks and, in some cases, kills the townspeoples' livestock. A brief description is given of how a neighbor found his mauled calf. Several characters die from an outbreak of fever. Another man dies peacefully of old age. Someone breaks a leg. Also, a dog is put down because of mortal injuries.
Drug and Alcohol Content
The romance between main characters is pure and well-handled. It is openly said that certain characters have an affection for someone else. A kiss is exchanged.
Crude or Profane Language or Content
Eunice guesses (correctly) that her husband has the phrase "d*** it" in his head and reprimands him. Martitia's aunt and uncle call Dr. David a "yokel". Also, in a family ritual, the boys eat dog meat and encourage Martitia to as well.
"They Loved to Laugh" is a beautiful story of a young woman coping with grief who is thrust into a new family. Even with the boys' excessive teasing and some minor violence, it is a fantastic read. I would personally recommend it for ages 13+.