{Review} Amity & Sorrow by Peggy Riley


FicCentral received a free copy of this book from Little, Brown and Company (via NetGalley).
{Review} Amity & Sorrow by Peggy RileyAmity & Sorrow by Peggy Riley
Publisher: Little Brown & Company on April 16, 2013
Genre(s): Contemporary Fiction (NA)
Pages: 308

Our Rating

4 Stars

A mother and her daughters drive for days without sleep until they crash their car in rural Oklahoma. The mother, Amaranth, is desperate to get away from someone she’s convinced will follow them wherever they go–her husband. The girls, Amity and Sorrow, can’t imagine what the world holds outside their father’s polygamous compound. Rescue comes in the unlikely form of Bradley, a farmer grieving the loss of his wife. At first unwelcoming to these strange, prayerful women, Bradley’s abiding tolerance gets the best of him, and they become a new kind of family.

This book includes mature subject matter that may not be appropriate for readers under the age of 18.


Once again I am stepping outside my usual genres and I have to say, I’m glad I did. I was invited to read this book, and with a little hesitation based off the summary (it makes it sound a bit like a shirtless, sexy widower/farmer heroically rescues this woman and her children, but it’s not at all like that) I started the book and then couldn’t put it down.

Amaranth is the first wife in a polygamous marriage. There are 49 other wives. They don’t really follow the Mormon faith (though the book mentions it briefly), the husband/father/preacher Zachariah follows his own faith and it seems to be mostly an “end of days” type religion.

As with most of these living off the grid with no electricity type compounds, there is some not so Godly stuff going on. One of the wives leaves and starts telling authorities what has actually been going on in the compound. This ends up in a raid on the compound, a fire, and Amaranth bolting with her children; Amity and Sorrow.

Sorrow, the oldest girl, tries to run home when they have to stop for gas, causing Amaranth to strap the girls together by the wrists. After many days of driving with no sleep, Amaranth crashes their car into a tree. They happen to crash on Bradley’s land, causing him much irritation because they have no money and no means of leaving his farm.

He lets them stay on his porch and is eager for them to leave. His wife left him and he’s pretty bitter about it. He’s afraid of losing his farm. He doesn’t want these freaky people on his property and he more than once tries to throw them out.

Amity and Sorrow have lived their whole lives on the compound. They cannot read or write. They don’t know anything but the ways of their religion. Sorrow thinks she’s an Oracle of God and Amity thinks she can heal people with her hands. Sorrow is a psycho, I’m just going to tell you that straight out. Though after what she’s been through (and I think you know what I’m referring too) and the amount of brainwashing this poor child went through, it’s almost understandable.

The book goes back and forth between backstory and what’s happening in the present. It was interesting to see the backstory though the book is written in a vague way. Things are alluded to and not many things are concrete. (If that makes any sense. Probably not.) It was also interesting to see Amaranth fight against beliefs that her and her husband created themselves.

Overall the book was interesting. There’s this woman that’s basically been brainwashed by her husband for years and joined in the brainwashing of others but when she sees her chance to escape she takes it. She feels immense guilt over the things she’s seen and done (or not done). She wants to save her daughters. At least she says she does. A lot of the book she talks a big game, but she doesn’t really follow through. She seems more about her relationship with Bradley. Though a relationship with Bradley would mean a stable life for her children.

I was very disappointed with a decision she makes in the end with Sorrow. It makes me pretty mad at Amaranth. There’s nothing really that can excuse her actions and that downgraded the rating a bit.

I recommend this book. It’s a pretty serious heavy book, but it was an entertaining read.


About Peggy Riley

Peggy Riley is a writer and playwright. Amity & Sorrow was published in the UK & Commonwealth with Headline/Tinder Press , Little, Brown in the US, and in translation in the Netherlands with Orlando, France with Cites de la Presses, and in Italy, Sonzogno. Recently, she was awarded a fellowship at Yaddo. Her short fiction has been published in Mslexia Magazine, as an app on Ether Books, and won a Highly Commended prize in the 2011 Bridport Prize. Her plays have been commissioned and produced off-West End, regionally, and on tour. She has been a festival producer, a bookseller, and writer-in-residence at a young offender prison. Originally from LA, Peggy now lives in Kent.

Author: punkfarie

punkfarie lives in a virtual house of books, where she visits lands filled with knights and princesses and fairies and witches and dragons, and her best friends are vampires and zombies. Find more of her reviews at Punk’s House of Books.

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