Thank You to Random House for providing me an advanced copy of Andria Williams' novel, The Longest Night, in exchange for an honest review.
PLOT - Set in the late 50's/early 60's, Andria Williams' novel, The Longest Night, follows the Collier family as they move to a military base in Idaho Falls. Paul Collier is working on a nuclear reactor, while his wife, Nat, takes care of their two daughters. Nat is young, beautiful, and impulsive. She has trouble making friends amongst the other military wives, especially Jeannie Richards, the most senior wife, married to Paul's boss. When Paul is sent to Greenland on a six month assignment, Nat feels further isolated. She meets a local ranch hand named Esrom and although she is warned of the gossip around the base, she allows the friendship to blossom. Will her relationship with a stranger destroy her marriage? Is the Collier family safe in a town so close to a nuclear reactor?
LIKE- Although Williams' story is fiction, it's clear that she has done her research to make the period come alive. Her story is based on a real accident that happened in Idaho Falls, the only fatal nuclear power accident in America.
The Longest Night is told in close-third perspective, following Nat, Paul, and Jeannie. Jeannie, especially in the first half of the book, stole the show with her sassy behavior and her verbal knives thrown at Nat. She is a wonderfully drawn adversary to the sweet and somewhat sheltered, Nat. Jeannie's chapters just sparkle.
Landscape is a key element, with the harsh winters and desert landscape. Idaho Falls is remote and foreboding, with an unwelcoming local population living just outside of the hyper-critical, gossip mongers on the base. The idea of Nat catching a break, seems an impossible task.
DISLIKE- I'm not sure about Esrom. He seems too nice, almost like a caricature of a romance novel hero. Despite his descriptions of being physically less than ideal, he's never imperfect in his actions and behavior. The other characters are so rich and developed, that I wanted more from Esrom.
RECOMMEND- Yes. The Longest Night is an excellent historical fiction novel, made even more interesting by having been based on real events. Williams' has written an emotionally charged story with deep, compelling characters. There are many surprising turns in the plot, some downright shocking. The Longest Night is her first novel and I'm now looking forward to her second.