Monday, 15 April 2013

Peggy Riley talks mothers & daughters (plus giveaway)

Talking about her debut novel, Amity & Sorrow, author Peggy Riley  said: "Perhaps that is what I am exploring here, questioning and challenging all the assumptions we make about mothers and daughters, of how families are made and lost." I loved Amity & Sorrow and couldn't resist asking her to explore this further for me as part of her blog tour. Very kindly, she agreed....... 
(Psst...there's an international giveaway at the end of the post too: signed hardback! Highly recommend it.)

UK hardback cover of Amity & Sorrow by Peggy Riley published by TinderpressPeggy Riley:

"Amity & Sorrow tells the story of two sisters and their mother.  But it also tells the story of their larger family, made in faith - a fundamentalist church with one man and his fifty wives.  In the novel, I’m interested in the idea of family, how they are created and how they come to fall apart. 

The very nature of family has changed.  Today, people see themselves as having two families:  those they are born to and those that they choose.  The families we choose – friends, colleagues, communities, causes – come to us passionately, ecstatically.  They are all the more special for being chosen.  But when the going gets rough, as it invariably does, they are easier to walk away from.  We can change and outgrow them.  We can change our minds about them.  We don’t have the burden of genes and history, of shared blood, to make us stay. 

I wanted to write about a family that was chosen, drawn together in faith by women who had little in common beside their shared husband.  In their communal faith, everything is shared.  Possessions and property.Husband, wives, children.  The women in the church at the centre of the novel are expected to share their children with one another, to raise another’s as their own.  But when the church catches on fire, Amaranth only runs her own daughters away.  She only takes her own ones.  She doesn’t stop for the other children, made by her husband with other mothers.  She only pays attention to her blood.  Out in a world they have never seen and don’t understand, Amity and Sorrow miss their family – the whole noisy clamour of it, all its skin and noise.  They haven’t been raised to value this one mother above all others.  They don’t know where their own bodies end and their siblings begin.  Can they learn how to be a family without the faith that made it?

I’m interested in the push and pull between our hearts and heads, our ideals and our bodies.  I’m interested in communal societies who try to make their love communal, their bodies communal.  I’m interested in how sister wives view one another in polygamous marriages.  Can you love a woman who loves your husband?  Is it really love, or is it a kind of a contract, a system of checks and balances to keep wives equal?  In households with multiple children and multiple wives, I would think it would be very hard not to feel closer to your own, the blood of the family that you are born to, and that it would be a struggle to love other mothers or children as much as your own.  But that is what their faith asks them to do.

And what of the children and their own expectations?  What of the babies born who are boys, who will be surplus to this polygamous faith, as the boys are in the fundamentalist Mormon communities of the West?  What of the daughters born?  Will they, too, want to be sister wives?  How much choice will these children have, raised in a world with so few options?  How much is any child’s life determined by her mother’s choices?  And what happens when a mother changes her mind and wants to go back to the world she left, a world her daughters have never seen?  And that is what the book is about, I suppose.  How influenced are we by our parents and their world?  How do we become – or stop becoming – our mothers?"
Amity & Sorrow explores these themes and issues beautifully. You can read M's review here and you can read Daddy Cool's review here.
Amity & Sorrow is Peggy Riley's debut novel.
International Giveaway - Signed Hardback!
Yep, that's right. A gorgeous hardcopy (I know, I have one) of Amity & Sorrow signed by the author, Peggy Riley. Plus, you'll get a #godsexfarming badge too (apart from the family themes, Amity & Sorrow really is about #godsexfarming!).
 Enter by leaving a comment (and if you win, I'll need to be able to contact you).

This is an international giveaway.

Please note, because we review a lot of children's books on this blog, due to parental responsibilities, safe internet usage and all that jazz, this giveaway is open to over 16s (if you're under 16, please get parental consent to enter).

The giveaway closes on Tuesday 23 April 2013. A winner will be chosen at random.


Amity & Sorrow blog tour


  1. This book sounds amazing! Would love to read it :-)

  2. I agree with Vanessa! What an amazing sounding story! I do already have it firmly planted on the TBR pile,but a signed hardcopy? Yes please!!

  3. Sounds like a complex yet beautiful book that you have reviewed perfectly. At my school (i'm the librarian) we read your blog all the time to see what's coming up! I think they'd love this!

    1. Thanks so much, Jodie. It is a fantastic book & I think older, mature teens would enjoy it.

  4. This giveaway is now closed.


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