Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Amity and Sorrow by Peggy Riley

Tinder Press is the new imprint from Headline Publishing and will be launched in spring 2013.  Amity and Sorrow by Peggy Riley will be one of the first releases.

Headline Publishing Group is delighted to announce the launch of a new imprint, Tinder Press.
Tinder Press is to be a distinct imprint publishing 10–12 titles a year, standing alongside Headline’s existing imprints. Tinder Press is created to build on recent Headline successes, for example Maggie O’Farrell’s Costa Novel Award winning THE HAND THAT FIRST HELD MINE,Sarah Winman’s Galaxy National Book Award winning  WHEN GOD WAS A RABBIT, and  Andrea Levy’s Man Booker prize shortlisted THE LONG SONG.  The imprint will be steered byMary-Anne Harrington, Fiction Publisher, andLeah Woodburn, Associate Publisher, who have a remit to publish extraordinary stories from original voices: books that inspire a  passionate response and will stand the test of time. 

The Tinder Press list will launch in spring 2013 and will include playwright Peggy Riley’s AMITY AND SORROW, an extraordinary debut about sisters in an end-of-the-world cult, run by their father; THE YONAHLOSSEE RIDING CAMP FOR GIRLS by Anton DiSclafani, a lush first novel of Southern decorum, family secrets and girls’ school rituals; Michel Rostain’s THE SON, a bestseller in his native France, and winner of the Prix Goncourt Debut Novel award; SNAPPER, Brian Kimberling’s heartfelt and humorous first novel about love and birdwatching in rural Indiana, which was awarded the Janklow and Nesbit Bath Spa Prize; and Maggie O’Farrell’s sixth novel, the story of four eventful days in the life of an Irish family in the heatwave of 1976.
It’s a hugely exciting endeavour for us, and we can’t wait to tell you more about the fantastic books we’ll be publishing – do keep an eye out for them here. And, despite the fact that we’re not launching till next year, we’re already chattering away: do follow us on Twitter@TinderPress, have a peek at our website:, and, lo! we’re even on Pintrest:

Although Amity & Sorrow is a fairly short novel at just 284 pages in the advance paperback edition, it is an intense and at times very difficult story to read.   The subject matter is quite harrowing, and a subject that is rarely touched upon in fiction, and the writing is quite unique and distinct - it takes a little while to get used to the style.

Amaranth and her two daughters; Amity and Sorrow are fleeing their home, they have driven across country for four days and the only reason that they have stopped is because Amaranth has crashed the car.  Stranded in the middle of nowhere, not knowing where they are, or where to go, they are discovered by Brad - a farmer who seems unconcerned by their plight, doesn't comment on their strange dress and allows them to camp out on his land.

Amaranth cannot let go of her memories and despite the fact that she knows that she had to flee, her thoughts return time and time again to her husband; the father of her girls.   Amaranth is his first wife, the first of his 50 wives and she was instrumental in establishing the cult that they have left behind.   Amity and Sorrow have no idea what it is like to speak with ordinary people, to allow anyone to see their hair, to walk through a field.  They have no conception of what is acceptable behaviour in the real world.  All they have known is life as part of a huge family, with rules, with terror, with abuse.

Amity relishes this new world, but Sorrow wants nothing more than to return to her father and their old life.

A lot of this story is told in 'flash back' form - when Amaranth remembers their life and how they were treated.   The reader has quite a lot of reading between the lines to do - as events emerge slowly and are often hinted at, rather than explained fully.

Reading Amity and Sorrow reminded me of watching films by director M Night Shyamalan, especially the film The Village.  There is a darkness about the writing and about the story that can be quite creepy at times.

Amity and Sorrow is an intriguing story with an ending that is unexpected and quite shocking and leaves the reader with lots of questions.

Peggy Riley is an accomplished author, with an unusual and quite quirky writing style that although fairly difficult to engage with at the beginning, becomes enchanting by the end.

Peggy Riley is on Twitter - follow her here.  She also has her own website here 

My thanks to Sam Eades from Headline for sending a copy for review.

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