Monday, 17 December 2012

Amity & Sorrow by Peggy Riley

I was very lucky to receive a proof copy of this book. From the title this may not have been a book I would immediately go for, but it just goes to show that you can find great stories in unexpected places.

Amaranth has run away from her family with her two daughters Amity and Sorrow. After four days of non-stop driving she crashes her car at a gas station. Despite an agitated introduction, the farmer of the surrounding property takes pity on the strange little family and lets them stay on his land.

We learn that they have come from a cult and Amaranth is constantly fearful that her husband – the only adult male and leader of the cult – will come after them. The youngest daughter Amity blossoms outside of the cult and is eager to learn about the unexplored world around her. Her older sister Sorrow is the extreme opposite, clinging fiercely to the rules and religion she knows and opposing all the changes before her. The story slowly unravels the past the girls have run from and weaves together the new relationships and experiences they forge on the farm. But eventually they must face up to what they left behind.

I absolutely adored the character of Amity; her innocence and curiosity about everything which is unfamiliar to her make her exploits truly charming to read about. It seems as though she is constantly torn between her mother and her sister, torn between the old ways and her new world. I remember learning about cults in Sociology and I always found the topic both intriguing and disturbing at the same time. The well-known religious sect from Waco, Texas are briefly mentioned in the book; that case becoming famous after more than 50 people died when it was stormed by police in 1993. The wives from the cult in this tale were interesting to read about as they all had their own reasons for joining the group; reasons of which probably reflect possible real life motivations for wanting to leave an old life behind and join an isolated community.

I thought this book explored the theme gracefully, woven together with notions of religion and farming, and is overall a deeply fascinating and hopeful story.

Out March 2013


  1. Great review - I've read about this book and was intrigued, you've now convinced me to give it a try when it's out!

    1. Thank you so much, I'm glad you liked the review. This really is a great book. Let me know what you think if you do read it!