Three Abandoned Books

Amity & Sorrow

Amity and Sorrow by Peggy Riley

Five words from the blurb: daughters, born, cult, rural, help

Amity and Sorrow has been receiving almost universal praise from the blogging world. I was impressed by the writing quality, but unfortunately the subject matter wasn’t for me.

Amity and Sorrow are two teenage girls who escape from a fundamentalist cult with their mother, Amaranth. Amity loves her new freedom, but Sorrow longs to be back with her tyrannical father.

The writing in this book was fantastic. The characters were beautifully drawn and the descriptions were atmospheric and absorbing. I should have loved this book, but unfortunately there were two problems.

The first was that the plot was very basic. It meandered from one scene to the next with no forward momentum. As the book was quite short I could probably have coped with this, but unfortunately I have a very low tolerance for religion in books and as this content increased I became more frustrated. I wanted to slap all the characters (a good sign I was engaged with them!) but I couldn’t bear to read page after page of information about life in a cult.

I abandoned it, but if you have a higher tolerance for reading about fundamentalist religions then you’ll probably love it.




Ferney by James Long

Five words from the blurb: Somerset, house, past, strange, connection

Ferney is one of those sleeper hits that occasionally crops up in conversation. It isn’t well known, but everyone who’s read it seems to love it. I bought a copy, keen to see why this was the case.

The book is set in Somerset and centres on Mike and Gally, a couple who fall in love with a dilapidated cottage that they come across by chance. They manage to persuade the owner to sell it to them and start restoring it straight away. Whilst working on their new cottage they meet Ferney, a strange old man who seems to know everything about the local area.

The book immediately reminded me of Outlander (Cross Stitch in the UK). Unfortunately I wasn’t a fan of Gabaldon’s book, but many of you are so I thought you’d like to know about this one. Ferney uses reincarnation to catch glimpses of the past, instead of the time travel present in Outlander, but the two books share the same corny romance, poor writing and unrealistic plot. If you’re looking for a light, escapist read then you’ll love this book, but I’m afraid it wasn’t for me.



Intrusion by Ken Macleod

Shortlisted for the 2013 Arthur C. Clarke Award

Five words from the blurb: future, pill, eradicate, genetic, defects

Intrusion is set in the near future at a time when women can take a pill during pregnancy to eradicate abnormalities in the fetus. The book follows Hope, a woman who decides not to take the pill, as her pregnancy progresses and friends, relatives and the authorities try to persuade her to change her mind.

I first heard about this book when I read an intriguing review on David’s blog. I’m drawn towards books that investigate the issues surrounding the eradication of disability and so picked up a copy from my library. Unfortunately this book failed to grip me and I abandoned it after about 100 pages.

The writing was very light and so fast paced that I felt the real issues were ignored. The book seemed to concentrate on whether it was legally possible to force women to take the pill and these discussions lacked any real weight:

‘Much as it pains me as a not very good Catholic,’ Fiona said, with a wry look, ‘I have to tell you that there are non-religious faith objections, if you see what I mean. Off the top of my head, uh, Green Humanism for one…’
Hope burst out laughing.
‘Green humanism? What’s that? Humanism for little green men?’
‘It’s about leaving nature alone, as I understand it,’ said Fiona a little stiffly.

I skim read a bit further and discovered the genetic difference present in Hope’s baby. This lost the book any credibility it might have had and rolling my eyes I put the book down for good.

Recommended to those who enjoy light science fiction.


Have you read any of these books?

Did you enjoy them more than I did?

19 replies on “Three Abandoned Books”

Everyone did universally love Amity and Sorrow, but I did not read it for the very reason you didn’t like it. I am not the least bit interested in learning about living in a cult and the harm it does children.

Sandy, Yes, I’m afraid that there are some things that just annoy me and I find I know enough about them already. Shame as so many people do love it.

No, I shall skip all three.

I have a very low tolerance for Sci Fi books (because anything goes) as is mostly true for the supernatural (hated Time Travelers Wife). I might be keen to read A&S but my TBR list is too intimidating to add another mediocre book right now.

Ifi, I actually loved Time Traveller’s Wife, but I do have a low tolerance for the supernatural – I prefer books firmly rooted in realism.

I love the honesty, and respect, with which you write this post. I’be recently decided to write about books I’ve disliked, whereas previously I’ve just ignored them. It’s good to let your readers know what didn’t work for you!

Bellezza, Thanks for the kind words. I wish more people would admit when books don’t work for them. Most of the time it isn’t about the quality of the writing, just personal taste. I look forward to seeing which books don’t work for you 🙂

Heh, we don’t seem to have had much luck with coinciding tastes lately, do we Jackie? (I’ve just read Amity & Sorrow, and quite liked it.) One day we’ll find another book like The Prestige, that we can both agree is excellent… 🙂

Amity & Sorrow and Intrusion do both appeal to me, but wonder if learning about a cult/escape from a cult would be best done in a factual memoir which has real insight into the subject.

Ferney just seems like a pile of pretentious middle-clash twaddle – just by reading your review I hate the characters.

Louise, I agree that a fact-based memoir would be better, but I’d avoid that one too!

I love your thoughts on Ferney! Not sure I’d quite describe it like that, but I love your honesty!

I could imagine I would like Amity and Sorrow as I love books about religions, cults, sects. I’m not too impressed about what you say about the structure/plotting though but might still give it a go. The other two are not for me.

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