The Longest Night: A Novel
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
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
From the Hardcover edition.
innocent girl, but I knew it wasn’t true. I’m not going to be that stupid again. I was away and you acted like a hooker.” Nat sucked in her breath. Her eyes sparked tears. “Listen,” Paul said, in nearly a whisper. “We are never going to talk about this again. Do you understand? We will pretend that this never happened. And if you ever mention it, I will leave this house.” He looked her in the eyes. “I will never be able to trust you. Do you understand?” “Don’t say that,” she said. “You will
drive away. It was a moment that had been in the making for a long time; it shouldn’t have been any more horrifying than the ones that had come before. The worst step had already been taken long ago. Nat did not sleep. By morning she could see that something larger than an argument with her husband had taken place. Neighbors gathered in the street, trading misinformation. A prop plane circled low over the town. She called the dispatcher over and over and was told that no one could be put through
Mitch’s mouth was half-open in anger, his tongue showing on one side. He’d finally plunged through bewilderment into the realm of self-righteous rage. “You women, you’re all the same. Jealous and bitter, always keeping tabs.” “Keep it down,” Jeannie hissed, stepping toward him, her eyes darting nervously. But once Mitch got started he only gathered steam. “You’re a bunch of thankless harpies, skimming off men, spending our money on your fancy clothes and shoes while you’re home without a
He stood a moment, chewing the inside of his cheek. “Collier,” Franks barked, “pay attention.” “Sorry.” Paul joined Webb in loosening the clamps above the rods. Franks stood to the side jotting notes on his clipboard. The first four rods slid into place as they were supposed to: numbers one and three first, then five and seven. When each rod hit its mark, Webb leaned forward and clamped it. He reached the nine and Paul felt his own concentration sharpen. He squatted to keep an eye on it; Webb
as if her little hips were twin waterfalls. “Is Liddie having fun?” Esrom asked. His eyes caught Patrice staring. “I was just checking on Nat here. That car still working all right for you?” he asked, his voice a little stiff and self-conscious. “Yes, it’s been a godsend. Thank you.” “Great.” He smiled shyly and bent to address the girls. “I’m sorry I interrupted your dress-up party.” He winked at Liddie, who beamed. “Awww—” said Sam, looking almost teary. “Hush, dear,” said Nat. “Thank you,