Book Review: Amity & Sorrow by Peggy Riley

Amity & Sorrow by Peggy RileyAmity & Sorrow: What it is about

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

About Judith
I'm owner and editor at and We edit books and articles for independent writers.

17 Responses to Book Review: Amity & Sorrow by Peggy Riley

  1. I just finished this book this week! It was very different from what I went into it expecting, but I like that in a book. 🙂

    On a related note, I see from your entry that you got this book as an e-galley copy. Doing reviews for galley copies is something I’ve been trying to break into lately, but I’m not finding the right connections. How did you get involved and do you have any advice to pass along?

    • Leeswammes says:

      Michelle, I wasn’t sure what to expect either, but I very much enjoyed the book.

      You can try and register with Netgalley in order to get e-galleys – most publishers have their own guidelines on who they approve or not. So, within Netgalley, look at the publishers guidelines to see if you’d qualify with (some of) them. Good luck!

  2. Jennifer says:

    I’m glad you liked this one, I sure did 🙂

  3. Rory says:

    I liked this one too. I’m still not sure i loved the end, but I’m still thinking about it which must be the sign of a good book…

  4. susanbright says:

    5 stars….I will definitely put this one on my to read list. Thanks!

  5. Great to see you enjoyed it. Definitely one I’d recommend.

  6. Alice says:

    Yup, definitely buying this book now.

  7. Laurie C says:

    I’m still on the fence about this one, but your review is swaying me towards adding it to the dreaded TBR list!

    • Leeswammes says:

      Ha ha, Laurie. Put it on the TBR and see if you get round to it – I hardly ever get a chance to buy/borrow something from my TBR because I have so many other books still to read.

  8. Charlie says:

    I like the comparison with Calamity Leek, I actually just got that after reading your review so it makes me think I should get this one. I did wonder about requesting it, but haven’t in case it’s a pdf (having trouble with those), but it’s out in hardback here.

    • Leeswammes says:

      Charlie, what e-reader do you have? I read this on my Sony e-reader as an ePub file. I once requested an ebook that was near impossible for me to read on the e-reader, so I just told the publisher about it and that was it. If you don’t try, you won’t know. 🙂

  9. Melinda says:

    I’ve read so many good reviews about this one, I think I will add it to my TBR pile.

  10. JoV says:

    Can’t wait to read this one Judith. I am glad you like it. 😉

  11. The Little Reader Library says:

    Glad you liked this one too Judith.

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