Amity and Sorrow by Peggy Riley
Playwright and short story author Peggy Riley strides onto the literary scene with her debut novel Amity and Sorrow from Tinder Press books.
We meet sisters Amity and Sorrow with their mother Amaranth as they run from their family, in search of a new life. The girls’ whimper and whine, lost as to why they have to leave their father, brothers, sisters and numerous mothers. But Amaranth has watched the community she lived in change and the man she’s married to lie and over the years create rules for his wives to benefit himself. She was the very first wife and at that point, she had no idea there would be others but alone in the world, with no family to embrace her and a husband who promised his undying love, she couldn’t bring herself to walk away. Years passed and wives came and went, children multiplied and her husband’s preachings about the end of the world become more obsessive. Her children follow him blindly, unaware of the outside world of televisions, computers or even other countries. For the two sisters, there have never been choices, only rules to follow and live by.
After days of solid driving, too scared to stop, in a fit of exhaustion Amaranth crashes the car. Stranded, alone and terrified her husband is coming for her and her children, she has to break a rule she had lived by for half her life and ask a man for help. Breaking the rules and being forced to leave her family leaves Sorrow convinced her mother is wicked. As Sorrow’s fanaticism only grows, Amaranth tries to leave those ties behind, while Amity struggles to keep them both happy and figure out where she belongs.
Amity and Sorrow could not be described as an easy book as it deals with some serious issues such as child abuse and pyromania but it is utterly captivating. Amaranth’s struggle with regret and self-loathing, partnered with the desperation to provide for her children, really is compelling. You cannot help but feel for the sisters Amity and Sorrow as their life is ripped out from underneath them and although with Sorrow’s obsessive belief driving her, it is Amity that I came to adore. She’s a child trapped between her own mother and sister, so desperate to be grown up and accepted but as the rules of her life suddenly change, she becomes lost as to what ‘grown up’ means anymore. What was normal inside their religious community, scares and repulses the local farmer and his hand, leaving Amity completely bewildered.
Amity and Sorrow is a tale of a mother’s love, belief, obsession and abuse that leaves the reader shaken but inspired. Riley’s unflinching narrative never backs down from the uncomfortable tale she wants to weave but completely avoids becoming depressing, if anything it is completely the opposite. Amity’s innocence and discovery of a new life fills the reader with warmth and Amaranth’s nervous footsteps to freedom leave you willing her on. As for Sorrow…well you really need to read the book to find out more about poor Sorrow. This book screams literary hit and Peggy Riley is definitely a brand new voice that I look forward to hearing more from.
Buy Amity and Sorrow by Peggy Riley