The Longest Night by Andrea Williams
Random House, 2016. Hardcover, 400 pages.
The Longest Night opens in 1959 with Paul and Nat Collier moving their family to Idaho Falls for Paul’s tour serving as an operator at a military nuclear test reactor. Upon settling in, Paul realizes that the reactor is not as stable as claimed. He and his fellow operators struggle to keep the reactor going without causing it to go super critical. When Paul takes the step of reporting an incident to his superior, Master Sergeant Richards he is temporarily banished to a remote Arctic base to work with a different test reactor.
Meanwhile, Nat is struggling to settle into her new life. Idaho Falls is remote and not near the beloved Pacific Ocean she grew up alongside. It doesn’t help that Paul is not distant or that their two young daughters occupy most of Nat’s time. Nor does it help that the other military wives are meddling, none more so that Paul’s supervisor’s wife. When Paul is sent away, Nat finds companionship in a cowboy/mechanic she met who takes to helping her and the girls out.
Then one night disaster strikes on multiple fronts. How will everything fall out? Who lives and who dies? Could someone be named as at fault? I’ll give you a hint: this novel is based on a little-known true story. But even with that hint, the characters are all original and have their own story to tell.
Overall, this is another book I have mixed feelings over. Nat and Paul were relatable characters and their relationship led to real challenges. However, there were characters I hated. Mitch Richards tops that list. He’s a womanizing leech with a foul mouth and it shows in ever scene he’s in. None more so that what I’ll call the “orgy scene.” Slocum and Jeannie Richards are not far behind. In fact, I almost did not finish the book after that one but I did. Luckily, Paul and Nat’s story picked up. And Nat does seem to be a woman who is a bit restless with her situation and how she coped does seem to be like a challenge real military wives would face (and Williams has been in that situation and should know).
Do you think you’ll read this novel? If you do, please let me know what you think about this one. Do you know of other novels addressing the lives of military wives to suggest? I need a comparison novel.
This review is based on an advanced reader copy from the publisher. It will be released tomorrow, 1/19/16.