May 2013 Indie Next List
“Amity and Sorrow are sisters, stolen away by their mother, Amaranth, from the only home they've ever known--the compound of their father's polygamous cult in the Idaho panhandle. After four days of driving, Amaranth crashes their car in Oklahoma, where all three are reluctantly taken in by a dogged descendant of the Dust Bowl. While the sisters and their mother struggle in their new surroundings, Amaranth's story of what drove her into the cult and what ultimately drove her away is unfurled in a series of harrowing flashbacks. This is a deft debut told with great compassion and insight. The characters are compelling, the dialog pitch-perfect, and the settings haunting.”
— Kim Fox, Schuler Books Alpine, Walker, MI
A page-turning literary debut about a mother and her two teenage daughters escaping a cult and starting over. Two sisters sit in the backseat of a car, bound at the wrists by a strip of white cloth. Their mother, Amaranth, drives for days without pause, desperate to get away from the husband she fears will follow them to the earth's end. Her daughters, Amity and Sorrow, cannot comprehend why they're fleeing or fathom what exists outside their father's polygamous compound. When an exhausted Amaranth crashes their car in rural Oklahoma, rescue arrives in the form of Bradley, a farmer not unfamiliar with loss and uncertain futures. At first mistrustful of the strange, prayerful trio, Bradley allows his abiding tolerance to get the best of him, and the four become a new kind of family.
Full of achingly beautiful prose, AMITY & SORROW is a mesmerizing debut about belief, redemption, and the dark heart of extreme faith.
About the Author
Peggy Riley is a writer and playwright. She recently won a Highly Commended prize in the 2011 Bridport Prize. Her short fiction has been broadcast on BBC Radio and has been published in "New Short Stories 4," Mslexia Magazine, and as an app on Ether Books. 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's prison. Originally from Los Angeles, Peggy now lives on the North Kent coast in Britain. She is currently working on her second novel, which will be set in the women's internment camp on the Isle of Man during WWII.
"Amity & Sorrow, grace and hope, honor and innocence, bliss and deliverance-all of this from one beautifully nuanced story about the nature of family and the power of faith. I savored every word."—Lori Lansens, author of The Girls
"A beautiful and terrifying book. Peggy Riley tells a complex and enthralling tale of family love and religious belief with uncommon wisdom, grace, and skill."—Sigrid Nunez, author of The Last of Her Kind
"Amity & Sorrow is a startlingly original, intelligent and beautiful first novel that I found riveting from page one. I can only wait with great anticipation for what comes next from Peggy Riley."—Michael Connelly, author of The Black Box
"Fierce and disturbing.... Riley's debut novel is a harsh but compassionate look at nature vs. nurture through the lens of a polygamous cult."—Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
"[An] accomplished, harrowing debut.... Riley's descriptive prose is rich in metaphor.... [and] the haunting literary drama simmers to a boil as it deftly navigates issues of family, faith, community, and redemption."—Ann Kelley, Booklist (Starred Review)
"A literary page-turner.... Her writing is clear, crisp, chilling..."—Reader's Digest
"Fierce and disturbing.... A harsh but compassionate look at nature vs. nurture."—The Washington Examiner
"Gripping.... a must-read for book lovers."—Ladies Home Journal
A powerful book about hope and redemption, as well as the perils of unquestioned belief and obedience."—SheKnows.com
"[A] shimmering first novel.... This delicately stitched, finely patterned and poetic novel suggests there is a tipping point at which human resilience disappears.... Riley has a gift for metaphor that gives this novel loft, and a rhythmic way of swinging from present to past."—Dylan Landis, New York Times Book Review
"Hooks readers from its riveting opening.... What makes AMITY & SORROW so fascinating is Riley's compassionate portrayal of these women...each emotion is captured exquisitely. This novel is not sensationalist, but rather realistic and frightening as it captures the horrors of real-life cults."—Megan Fishmann, Bookpage
"Harrowing, suspenseful and insightful, this is a stunning meditation on innocence lost and good turned evil."—Donna Marchetti, Cleveland Plain Dealer