There is something oddly titillating about the idea of polygamy, especially when it runs counter to the prevailing culture. Why would a group of free and consenting women choose to share one man? As for the husband... well, perhaps that's self-evident. Not so long ago, The Sunday Times ran a feature on the so-called 'rampant rabbi' of East Sussex and his seven wives. In an attempt to justify his lifestyle, the husband told the newspaper: "A man is capable of looking after more than one wife and it's natural that a woman needs covering and safety."
|God, sex and farming
When it comes down to it, our fascination with polygamy revolves around sex. How seven wives share the housework is less interesting. Rather we want to hear about the antics in the bedroom. In Peggy Riley's debut novel, Amity & Sorrow, there is plenty of sex to sauce her portrayal of a fundamentalist, polygamous cult. Sexual relations evolve into a ritualistic act to bind together Zachariah, the patriarch, and his fifty wives. More significantly, the nub of the story - the crisis that sets everything in motion - turns on a repugnant act of sex.