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2 Beaverton Literature- A to Z

Amity and Sorrow

by

Amity and Sorrow Cover

ISBN13: 9780316220880
ISBN10: 0316220884
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

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 and Sorrow is about the influence of community and learning to stand on your own.

Review:

"Playwright Riley's debut novel is a harsh but compassionate look at nature vs. nurture through the lens of a polygamous cult. Sisters Amity and Sorrow were born and raised by their mother, Amaranth, the first of the 50 wives of a self-proclaimed prophet, the leader — "preacher, father, husband" — of a doomsday sect. When a confrontation with the law results in gunshots and a fire, Amaranth grabs her teenage daughters, steals a car, and drives for four days until, exhausted, she crashes near a gas station in rural Oklahoma. Sorrow, a self-righteous teenage sociopath who will destroy anyone and anything to prove she is God's chosen one, locks herself in the bathroom, where she has a miscarriage. The more compliant Amity is torn between her mother and her sister, on one side, and a world she's never experienced on the other. As they explore this new world, meeting people and making their own choices for the first time, Sorrow, with off-putting self-involvement masquerading as religious fervor, tries to destroy everyone who tries to help them. Riley's mastery keeps this unusual tale from descending into melodrama, and she makes no easy choices. Sorrow's desperate escalations lead to an unsurprising revelation that is no less powerful for its foreshadowing. A fierce and disturbing novel. Agent: Joy Harris, the Joy Harris Literary Agency. (Apr.)" Publishers Weekly

Review:

"A literary page-turner....Her writing is clear, crisp, chilling." Reader's Digest

Review:

"The eponymous title refers to the daughters of Amaranth, the first wife (out of 50) of Zachariah, Messianic leader of a Doomsday cult....Through flashbacks we get glimpses into the lives Amaranth, Sorrow and Amity have led with Zachariah, shielded from the world and subject to his apocalyptic paranoia....Simple in style but complex in tone, this book raises troubling questions about the power of doomladen cults, and their leaders and followers." Kirkus Reviews

Review:

"This delicately stitched, finely patterned and poetic novel suggests there is a tipping point at which human resilience disappears." New York Times

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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.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 3 comments:

Melinda Ott, December 9, 2013 (view all comments by Melinda Ott)
I will admit that the polygamous aspect of this book is what first drew me toward it. I have sort of a voyeuristic/train wreck fascination with it. This book, however, is not your run of the mill polygamy novel. For one thing, the polygamist in this book are not FLDS--although the man at the center of it was raised at Cross Creek. Instead, it is more of an end-of-days cult. In the center is one man, his 50 wives, and his children. In the midst of gunshots and a fire, the first wife, Amaranth, flees with her 2 daughters.

Amity, the younger of her two daughters, is a typical twelve-ish aged girl. Her older sister, Sorrow, is a different story. She is "the oracle" and uses that power to her advantage without a thought of consequences. There were many themes in this book, but the one I picked up on the most was the bond between these two sisters.

The plot of this story was fascinating, but I felt that the execution did not live up to expectations. I'm not sure if it was Riley's intent to have the reader feeling that they didn't have a foundation when reading this book, but it wasn't a feeling that enhanced the experience of this book. Part of this may be because it just felt "thin" in places--there needed to be more detail and background in several parts of this book I didn't feel that enough of either to really sink my teeth into this story.

While this was an interesting book and it showed great potential, it just didn't live up to my expectations.
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Karen Rush, May 15, 2013 (view all comments by Karen Rush)
Amaranth, the first wife of a Fundamentalist cult leader escapes the compound with her two daughters. The chapters alternate between flashbacks of her protected life within the cult, what made her leave and how she and her daughters Amity & Sorrow adapt to life beyond, one which they are unprepared for in so many ways. The emotional scars are apparent as the three struggle through. A disturbing and intriguing novel. A good book club choice as it would foster alot of conversation.
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whatsheread, April 12, 2013 (view all comments by whatsheread)
Peggy Riley’s Amity and Sorrow is a unique look, not into the life of polygamy but rather into the lasting impact of a life spent living within a cult-like environment. It explores what happens when such a life is forcibly taken away from its followers and how they do - or do not - adjust to their sudden new life. For those living such a life and fully immersed in the belief system and culture, the abrupt departure from such a life can be as traumatic as anything, and it is this trauma that drives a majority of the plot.

Amity and Sorrow are on opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to acceptance of this life away from their family compound, and their reactions to their new-found freedoms are as opposing as their names. While the lack of familiar rules is disconcerting, Amity soon adapts and begins to test her new environment. Sorrow, however, wants nothing to do with this new life and aches to be back with her father and all that is familiar. While each of their reactions is understandable, given the fact that they were both born on the compound and know no other way of life, it is difficult for a reader to discern which girl is the more tragic. Sorrow is uncompromising in her abhorrence of life outside the compound and refuses to succumb to any of its lack of rules. Given what is revealed about life on the compound and her particularly uncomfortable relationship with her father, Sorrow’s exhibition of Stockholm Syndrome is upsetting but understandable. Amity does like what she finds and does begin to make the adjustment to her new life, but there is something terrible in the rules she cannot find the strength to break. Her inner conflict between old and new is every bit as heart-wrenching as Sorrow’s complete faith in the old, if not more so.

While the novel takes its name from Amaranth’s daughters, Amaranth’s story achieves its own time in the spotlight, and deservedly so. For, Amaranth remembers life before the compound, and through Ms. Riley’s careful psychology, a reader gets a clear picture of the reasons for why people remain attracted to faith-based cults. While the cult’s ideology itself is troublesome and will no doubt be distasteful for readers, one can understand how someone with Amaranth’s reckless past can find solace in an environment that embraces family and shared responsibilities. A reader’s simultaneous acceptance of and repugnance towards the compound and its belief system are some of the most surprising feelings generated by this thoughtful book.

As in life, there are many shades of grey within Amity and Sorrow that prevent a reader from feeling unequivocal sympathy towards any of the characters. Similarly, a reader will struggle with understanding and accepting the sense of camaraderie that occurred in Amaranth’s polygamous environment and with utter revulsion at what is later revealed. As one can imagine, such conflicts of feeling make the novel a dark reading experience, one in which not just the main characters will leave the story with scars. Yet, the chance to dive deeper into a polygamous culture makes it utterly fascinating. Fans of any of the current television shows about polygamous relationships should not pass up the chance for yet another viewpoint on this interesting and titillating lifestyle.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780316220880
Author:
Riley, Peggy
Publisher:
Little Brown and Company
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Publication Date:
20130431
Binding:
HARDCOVER
Language:
English

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Related Subjects

Featured Titles » General
Featured Titles » Literature
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » Contemporary Women
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » Debut Fiction
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » Family Life
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » New Arrivals
Religion » Western Religions » Religious Fiction

Amity and Sorrow Used Hardcover
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Product details pages Little Brown and Company - English 9780316220880 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Playwright Riley's debut novel is a harsh but compassionate look at nature vs. nurture through the lens of a polygamous cult. Sisters Amity and Sorrow were born and raised by their mother, Amaranth, the first of the 50 wives of a self-proclaimed prophet, the leader — "preacher, father, husband" — of a doomsday sect. When a confrontation with the law results in gunshots and a fire, Amaranth grabs her teenage daughters, steals a car, and drives for four days until, exhausted, she crashes near a gas station in rural Oklahoma. Sorrow, a self-righteous teenage sociopath who will destroy anyone and anything to prove she is God's chosen one, locks herself in the bathroom, where she has a miscarriage. The more compliant Amity is torn between her mother and her sister, on one side, and a world she's never experienced on the other. As they explore this new world, meeting people and making their own choices for the first time, Sorrow, with off-putting self-involvement masquerading as religious fervor, tries to destroy everyone who tries to help them. Riley's mastery keeps this unusual tale from descending into melodrama, and she makes no easy choices. Sorrow's desperate escalations lead to an unsurprising revelation that is no less powerful for its foreshadowing. A fierce and disturbing novel. Agent: Joy Harris, the Joy Harris Literary Agency. (Apr.)" Publishers Weekly
"Review" by , "A literary page-turner....Her writing is clear, crisp, chilling."
"Review" by , "The eponymous title refers to the daughters of Amaranth, the first wife (out of 50) of Zachariah, Messianic leader of a Doomsday cult....Through flashbacks we get glimpses into the lives Amaranth, Sorrow and Amity have led with Zachariah, shielded from the world and subject to his apocalyptic paranoia....Simple in style but complex in tone, this book raises troubling questions about the power of doomladen cults, and their leaders and followers."
"Review" by , "This delicately stitched, finely patterned and poetic novel suggests there is a tipping point at which human resilience disappears."
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