I have never been one to read a lot. I remember in high school writing book reports from using the forward in the book just so I wouldn’t have to read it. But I do remember one book in particular when I was in the 7th grade. It caught my interests so much that I actually read it and did a book review that got me an “A” in class. The next year I returned to the school library and asked our librarian, Mr. Foil (I even remember his name) to please help me find this same book. I checked it out, reread the book and did another book report on it getting yet another “A”.

Now everyone that knows me knows I am married to Simon Barrett who is a compulsive book reader. He has been after me to read more than I do and become a book reviewer too. I asked could I just read the forward and do it from there, laughing of course. He said that would be cheating so I blew off the subject.

For some reason or another, this book’s title has stayed in my head for over 35 years. I have not read the book nor seen it since I was in 8th grade and have no idea why the name stuck in my head. The more amazing part is I remembered basically what the book was about.  I decided one day to look the book up online and buy it. And guess what? I actually read the whole book and enjoyed it as much as I did the other two times that I read it. I even shed a few tears at its happy ending again!

The book starts out in the 1830’s with Dr. David Gardner bringing a young Presbyterian girl, Martitia, home with him to stay after her parents both died from typhoid fever. Since Martitia had no where else to go until she could notify her mother’s sister, Dr. David who is a Quaker, said she could go home with him and stay with his family. He warns her that his home is filled with five sons, a daughter and his wife Eunice.

The boys are full of practical jokes and they loved teasing Martitia trying to get her to laugh, but Martitia was raised in a totally different world then the Gardner family. She has to learn how to deal with all the joking and teasing and the sarcastic remarks she receives from the daughter, Ruth who is apparently jealous of the attention Martitia receives from the family.

Ruth resents Martitia because she doesn’t even know how to make her own bed or wash her own dishes after eating. Desperately to fit in with the family that she is slowly learning to love, Martitia sets out to learn to cook and weave and make herself worthy of staying in the Gardner household.

Ruth asked Martitia in one of her insensitive ways, “Why were you brought up to be so useless and ignorant, Martitia?”

Martitia’s response was that her mother wished for her to be raised as she was. She didn’t want her to have to work hard like she did. She explained how her mother was raised in a house in Richmond and they had slaves to do their chores for them. She said then her mother married her father who wasn’t good at making the money her mother was accustomed to but she loved Martitia’s father. She said her mother learned to cook and clean. So she didn’t want Martitia’s hands to become like hers, stiff and big knuckled from all the work.

Martitia soon got close to one of the Gardner sons Clarkson, but deep down her heart really belonged to one of the other brothers. She knew she didn’t have a chance since it was no secret to the family that the one she liked had his heart set upon another woman.

Martitia’s Aunt and Uncle accused Dr. David of only wanting custody of Martitia so he could claim the parcel of land that Martitia’s parents left for her but after fighting for custody Dr. David won and Martitia was considered a Gardner daughter and she fought to rightfully keep that title with the family.

The boys of the Gardner family tried hard to get Martitia to learn to laugh.

There were good times and yet some devastating sad times throughout the book but I can promise you that it will hold your interest from the beginning to see how this girl struggled through life where she eventually bloomed into a well respected member of the Gardner family.

I loved the ending of the book but the question is did Martitia actually ever learn to laugh. I won’t give it away. I have to admit it took several tissues to wipe my eyes once it was over even though I knew what was going to happen. And imagine how shocked Simon was that I actually read the book.

To give you an idea as to how long this book has been around, its original copywrite date was 1942 by Kathyrn Worth Curry. She did an awesome job writing the book.

I recommend this to anyone that loves a good book. It is heart touching.

You can purchase this book at Amazon. If you do I hope you enjoy it as much as I did and all the others that have read it.

Jan Barrett

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