1 review

The Longest Night: A Novel
by Andria Williams

Published: 2016-01-12
Hardcover : 400 pages
0 members reading this now
2 clubs reading this now
0 members have read this book
Recommended to book clubs by 1 of 1 members
A scintillating debut novel about a young couple whose marriage is tested when they move to an army base rife with love triangles, life-or-death conflicts, and a dramatic cover-up

In 1959, Nat Collier moves with her husband, Paul, and their two young daughters to Idaho Falls, a remote ...
No other editions available.
Add to Club Selections
Add to Possible Club Selections
Add to My Personal Queue
Jump to


A scintillating debut novel about a young couple whose marriage is tested when they move to an army base rife with love triangles, life-or-death conflicts, and a dramatic cover-up

In 1959, Nat Collier moves with her husband, Paul, and their two young daughters to Idaho Falls, a remote military town. An Army Specialist, Paul is stationed there to help oversee one of the country’s first nuclear reactors—an assignment that seems full of opportunity.

Then, on his rounds, Paul discovers that the reactor is compromised, placing his family and the entire community in danger. Worse, his superiors set out to cover up the problem rather than fix it. Paul can’t bring himself to tell Nat the truth, but his lies only widen a growing gulf between them.

Lonely and restless, Nat is having trouble adjusting to their new life. She struggles to fit into her role as a housewife and longs for a real friend. When she meets a rancher, Esrom, she finds herself drawn to him, comforted by his kindness and company. But as rumors spread, the secrets between Nat and Paul build and threaten to reach a breaking point.

Based on a true story of the only fatal nuclear accident to occur in America, The Longest Night is a deeply moving novel that explores the intricate makeup of a marriage, the shifting nature of trust, and the ways we try to protect the ones we love.

Praise for The Longest Night

“[A] stunning debut.”Entertainment Weekly
“[A] smart and detailed portrait of a dissolving postwar marriage . . . will remind many readers of Richard Yates’s Revolutionary Road.”San Francisco Chronicle
“[Andria] Williams’s quietly confident style is without swagger or gimmick. . . . What emerges most powerfully from The Longest Night is a kind of quiet wonder at the exquisite intricacy, but astonishing durability, of familial love.”—Los Angeles Review of Books

“Think Army Wives meets Serial meets your perfect long weekend read. About an army base with a lot of love triangles, and a cover-up.”theSkimm

“The tension builds heavily with each page.”InStyle

“Scintillating . . . A smoldering, altogether impressive debut that probes the social and emotional strains on military families in a fresh and insightful way.”Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“[A] luminous debut . . . Williams expertly builds tension between Paul and Nat as the story progresses towards the inevitable nuclear tragedy in this utterly absorbing and richly rewarding novel.”Booklist (starred review)

“Andria Williams’s debut is an intimately detailed portrait of love, trust, and guilt in a town—and an era—clouded with secrets.”—Celeste Ng, author of Everything I Never Told You

“A smart and compassionate novel that offers as many fresh insights into marriage and intimacy as it does about American nuclear history. Andria Williams is a terrific writer—clear-eyed and empathetic—and this is a fantastic debut.”—Molly Antopol, author of The UnAmericans

“It’s hard to believe The Longest Night is Andria Williams’s debut novel. Her command of language, character and plot—the three essential ingredients for a riveting read—is extraordinary.”—David Abrams, author of Fobbit

Editorial Review

An Amazon Best Book of January 2016: With any luck, the publication of The Longest Night will signal the beginning of a new kind of historical novel: one that takes not a real-life character but an incident--here, a little known nuclear plant accident--and imagines the lives of the people who lived through it. Set in the late 1950s, this strikingly assured debut tells the story of an army family trying to adjust to the cloistered, small town life of a base in rural Idaho. Paul is working at one of the US’s early nuclear plants; his wife Nat, a bit of a free spirit by the mores of the time and place, is trying to fit in without completely giving in. (She reminds me of Bill Masters’ wife Libby in Masters of Sex.) Early on, Paul suspects that his boss is taking dangerous shortcuts at the plant, and knows for sure that said boss is a creep, as evidenced by a scene so sexist, violent and abusive I’d rather not describe it. When Paul confronts him, he gets sent away to Greenland to work on another project, leaving Nat and the girls to fend for themselves. What happens at the plant is spelled out from the beginning and what goes on in Nat’s life is fairly predictable-- spoiler alert: there’s a well-meaning, laconic cowboy involved--but Williams never lets the melodrama (or the relationship) go too far; keeping her focus tight on Nat and Paul and the longstanding tensions that were merely exacerbated by the move to Idaho, she keeps the story swift, believable and surprising. Williams gets the details and language of the time just right--a doctor’s receptionist actually informs Nat of her pregnancy by saying “the rabbit died” and there’s wit in even her most ordinary observations: “It was remarkable how even the mere mention of a couple of beers could make Richards act as if he’d already had them.” This is a wise, entertaining and illuminating novel. --Sara Nelson


No Excerpt Currently Available

Discussion Questions

No discussion questions at this time.

Notes From the Author to the Bookclub

No notes at this time.

Book Club Recommendations

Member Reviews

Overall rating:
by Gail G. (see profile) 04/28/17

Rate this book
Remember me

Now serving over 80,000 book clubs & ready to welcome yours. Join us and get the Top Book Club Picks of 2022 (so far).



Get free weekly updates on top club picks, book giveaways, author events and more
Please wait...