Friday, 21 December 2012


Well, this is the time of year when everyone is talking about their favourite books of 2012.

Not to be left behind in the game I'm going to state that my own favourite novel of this year has not even been published as yet. But it will be - and I'm confident enough to say right now that if there's any justice in the publishing world then Amity and Sorrow by Peggy Riley is going to be one of the literary sensations of 2013.

 This was the first thing I read in the proof copy that Tinder Press kindly sent me -

One father; two daughters; fifty wives. 
They're waiting for Salvation. Pray it never comes.

Oh, pray indeed! 

Those two lines had me hooked from the very start when reading this beautifully crafted, tightly restrained, and yet enormously powerful and dramatic novel about women whose fates have been entwined in the creation of an American cult.

Admittedly I've been pondering on the psychological aspects of belonging to such a closed religious community since the tragic events of Waco were publicised all over the world. I was even considering writing a novel based on such a story myself. But now, I never will, because Peggy Riley has done it so well and, really, there's nothing more to say about the potential for abuse that exists when needy and trusting souls become enslaved to those 'caring' and charismatic men who are also mad or unscrupulous. 

Something about this novel that really impressed itself on me was the fact that, despite providing very little physical description for any of the characters, it is a tribute to Peggy Riley's skills that I had the clearest impression in mind when imagining the 'look' of every single one of them. For me, every character in the book was vivid and perfectly realised. I could 'see' them. I even began to cast the parts that actors might play in a film. And, if this isn't made into a film - if this doesn't go on to win awards - then I will return and eat my words! 

But for now I'll look into my crystal ball (from which the two sisters, Amity and Sorrow, both stare back out and into a world that lures one and repels the other) and I'll wager that I'm right - that by the end of 2013 many others will agree with me and include this exceptional novel in the lists of their favourite books of the year.


  1. I shall look out for it. I think one of my own favourites was Bring up the Bodies because of the way Mantel reached into the heart of the Boleyn story and the writing is superb.

  2. Oh yes. An excellent book. I loved the use of 'Yes,yes,yes,no...' That still haunts me. I'm soon to read Mantel's Fludd.