Book Review: Amity & Sorrow by Peggy Riley
May 7, 2013 17 Comments
From the publishers: “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. An unforgettable story of belief and redemption, Amity & Sorrow is about the influence of community and learning to stand on your own.”
Amity & Sorrow: What I thought
In this book, we follow a mother and her two daughters for a few months, after they have left the religious commune where the girls have lived all their life. They are on the run for their father, their mother’s husband, who has a total of fifty wives and many children living with him.
Amity and Sorrow only know life in the commune and are totally ignorant about the world outside. They believe their father is God and are not at all happy that their mother took them away.
Bit by bit, the reader finds out the full story about the commune and the reason the mother left. Bradley, the farmer who is not happy to find them on their doorstep, slowly defrosts into a supportive person.
I really enjoyed reading this. The story is told in a kind of simple, sparse narrative that tells the reader enough to follow the story, but also makes curious as to the full story. Not only do you want to know what exactly happened in the commune, but also what will happen to the three of them next. Will the husband find them? Will they stay at the farm, even though Bradley doesn’t want them? Will the girls flee back home without their mother?
A well-set out story that reminded me a little of The First Book of Calamity Leek (Paula Lichtarowicz) because of the naïvity of the girls, and of Dirt (David Vann) because of the rural setting and the painful family relationships.
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Number of pages: 320
First published: 2013
I got this: from the publishers, Hachette Books via Netgalley (e-galley)
Genre: contemporary fiction