Monday, August 24, 2009

Orphans and Warriors

I don't re-read books very often (it's the "so many books, so little time" issue), but as an adolescent I read one book several times. It was They Loved to Laugh by Kathryn Worth. I'm not sure now quite what I liked about it so much, except that the main character is a sad little misfit who finds a family where she belongs and is treasured. Yeah, that's a theme that'll get me every time.

The book was reissued a few years ago, so I guess it has some loyal readership. I love the synopsis I found:
This novel for young readers is set in 19th century North Carolina and follows the life of a young orphan, Martitia, whose sorrowful solemnity made people wonder if she would ever learn to laugh.
Sorrowful solemnity! I must have been a real riot as a kid.

Oddly, I would have bet on the fact that her name was almost anything other than Martitia. But I can remember the name of my favorite among her six adopted brothers -- the one who falls in love with Martitia but dies tragically.

So many books available for young girls when I was that age -- the age where many girls love tragedy and happy endings -- were full of death and disappointment. There was a lot of fever and industriousness and lost fortunes and unlikely romantic matches and good manners.

All of which have their place in literature, of course. But I'm kind of glad Abbie prefers Tamora Pierce's fierce and fiesty warrior heroines.