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The Longest Night

3.68  ·  Rating details ·  2,879 ratings  ·  462 reviews
In this absorbing and suspenseful debut novel—reminiscent of Revolutionary Road and inspired by a little-known piece of history—a young couple must fight to save both their marriage and the town they live in.

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 t
Hardcover, 383 pages
Published January 12th 2016 by Random House
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Average rating 3.68  · 
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 ·  2,879 ratings  ·  462 reviews

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Aug 07, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: free-from-work
this book is one of those quiet surprises that spring up every now and again. i wouldn't ordinarily see that cover, or the historical fiction/american marriage angle and think, "this is my jam!" but it turns out i like all kinds of jam!

the only nuclear reactor accident on u.s. soil to ever result in fatalities was in idaho falls in 1961. this book takes place in the very same idaho falls in the middle of 1959 and leads up to the events of january 3, 1961, when history was made in a terrible way.
Elyse  Walters
Nov 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley
Update: $1.99 Kindle sale today!!! I really enjoyed this book!!

Nat Collier has a house with a backyard in a modest neighborhood. She is 24 years old and has two small children -two girls -1 and 3 years of age. She is married to Paul, a nuclear operator in the army. She gets an allowance every month to buy clothes and cooking supplies from Paul.

Paul, Nat, and the girls have recently uprooted from San Diego to Idaho Falls where suburban life is harden lava & flatness. There is a Mormon Temple and
Angela M

The story was filled with tension from the beginning to the end - at home, at work , at dinner parties , between husbands and wives, bosses and subordinates. I could feel it and I wondered what would explode first - the nuclear reactor in this small town of Idaho Falls or Paul and Nat's marriage . Definitely reflective of the time , the 1960's and the description is right . It is reminiscent of Revolutionary Road. Even though they were not a military family , I could almost see Leonardo DiCaprio
Feb 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I really can’t give this book any less than 5 stars since I enjoyed it immensely from beginning to end, and was sad when it was over.  I love how the cover depicts the timeframe of this novel so perfectly, but the descriptive writing captures it even better, creating a sense of time and place that made me feel I was right there, with characters that seemed so real.  I was intrigued by it being based on a true story of a nuclear accident in the early 1960s, but I was also immersed with ALL of the ...more
4.5 Stars

A slow-burner of a book with excellent characterization and satisfying conclusion. Novelist Andria Williams chooses a little-known and mostly covered-up piece of American history (the first and to-date, only, nuclear reactor accident with immediate fatalities) for her debut.

Set in the early 1960's in Idaho Falls, ID, Williams tells the story of a young Army specialist, Paul Collier, his wife, Nat, and their young daughters. This was the era when people married very young, had kids very
Feb 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
5 Stars and worth every one of them. I loved everything about this book!
Nov 18, 2015 rated it liked it
I appreciate the writing and story of The Longest Night, but it didn't quite engage me. Set in the early 1960s in Idaho, The Longest Night focuses on Paul and Nat's marriage. Paul is in the military, and his current assignment is to work at the site of a nuclear reactor. Nat is in her mid 20s, originally from San Diego and not quite fitting into the expected military wife role. In the background of the story, there's a brewing impending potential reactor failure due to the incompetence of Paul's ...more
Julie Christine
An elegant and finely-wrought portrait of a marriage in the Atomic Age. Andria Williams' impressive debut begins with an accident at a nuclear reactor outside Idaho Falls in January 1961, then circles back eighteen months to bring us the gradual meltdown of a young couple reacting to the stresses of military life.

Army specialist Paul Collier is sent from reactor school in Ft. Belvoir, VA to Idaho, his pretty wife and two little girls in tow. Paul, bearing the scars of a difficult childhood, fin
(Nearly 4.5) Utterly absorbing historical fiction. What with the remote setting and the threat of Cold War / nuclear fallout, this is reminiscent of The Last Pilot and The Wives of Los Alamos, but more engaging than either of those. You may also see hints of Richard Yates or even Tom Perrotta’s Little Children in the story of a marriage strained to the breaking point. Each character is fully explored and the early 1960s atmosphere is completely convincing. A great debut and an author I’d like to ...more
Oct 18, 2015 rated it really liked it
I issue any reader this challenge: just try to put this book down halfway through and then come back to it later. You can’t. Once the pages begin turning, it’s impossible to be away from this story too long. And that’s a high compliment to pay to a debut writer.

Andria Williams channels the life of a military wife in the late 1950s, a time when the illusion of perfection is all-important. Except Natalie Collier -- born in San Diego, now living in remote Idaho Falls – does not fit the mold. Her yo
switterbug (Betsey)
Oct 14, 2015 rated it really liked it
Andria Williams may not win any literary awards, but this is a noteworthy, character-driven domestic drama set in 1959-1961, during the time before women’s lib. Wives, especially military wives, had a rigid protocol, and their desires and dreams took a backseat to making their husband’s happy and being outstanding homemakers. Nat (Natalie) Collier is an inner free spirit, not the expected conformist. However, she tries to adapt to her role as wife and mother of two little girls, Sam and Liddie. ...more
Dorie  - Cats&Books :)
I received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I was very interested in this book for several reasons. My sister lives in Twin Falls, Idaho and had never heard about this incident nor had I. It also just sounded like a great story, one that would keep my interest as the history of nuclear energy is still being written today.

The gist of the story is listed in the description of the book. We know from the get go what the climax at the end will be. This can be o.k. with me when
Jan 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I read some of the other reviews on here. I honestly can't find anything wrong with this novel and believe it has a high chance of being the best book that I will have read in 2016. I received a copy from NetGalley, and so it's worth noting that my opinion is honest and unbiased.
Everything about this book is exceptional. From the well-developed characters to the scenery and events that led to what happened at the end, I can't find a single thing that I dislike. I thoroughly enjoyed the way the c
Sep 08, 2015 rated it really liked it
Although the book is historical in nature, the story is much more than an education in nuclear energy post Korean War. It's a quiet book that examines relationships between couples in different stages, as well as pressure that can impact marriage from superiors within and without the military. Abuses of power that threaten families and safety of others. There is also the quiet, seemingly innocent friendships that blossom that, innocent or not, damage trust within marriages.

The book is much more
Sep 21, 2015 marked it as to-read
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In June 1959, a young military couple moves to Idaho Falls when the husband is assigned to work at one of the country’s first nuclear power plants. Natalie and Paul Collier have two girls, but Nat can’t seem to form any friendships among the other Army wives and she’s lonely and restless. Paul notices some issues with the reactor and feels that his superiors are doing nothing to correct the problems. Tensions build,
Pam Jenoff
Dec 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I loved this story of , Nat, an army wife, whose husband, Paul, is assigned to work on one of the first nuclear reactors in a remote rural area. Nat struggles with marriage and isolation, while Paul wrestles with a secret about the nuclear reactor that threatens to endanger them all. Williams writes with great sensitivity about a unique period in 20th century history and deals with timeless themes of loyalty and trust that resonate with us all.
Jan 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book has been compared to Revolutionary Road but I thought it was much more interesting. It takes place in the early 1960s and I enjoyed both the historical fiction and the contemporary literature aspects. I also felt as if I learned more about nuclear energy and politics of being a spouse of someone in the military. There is a lot of forshadowing and character development. I found myself wanting to know more about people, whom I would otherwise feel bored about. Thank you NetGalley and Ran ...more
Bonnie Brody
Sep 27, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Andria Williams has written a compelling novel based on a little-known incident that occurred in Idaho Falls, Idaho in 1961. The control rod of a nuclear reactor was lifted too high and three people were killed as the reactor went "supercritical". As Ms. Williams states in the author's note, this "tragedy has been allowed to fall away from our cultural memory". While the Idaho Falls incident plays a significant part in this novel, the book is primarily about a marriage and how "big historical ev ...more
Mary Lins
Oct 25, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: complete
"The Longest Night", debut novel of Andria Williams, is immensely readable. We are immediately swept up in the story of Nat and Paul Collier, a young military couple who in 1959 are assigned by the Army to a problematic nuclear reactor In Idaho. Fans of mid-century settings (e.g.,"Mad Men" and "The Astronaut's Wives Club") will especially enjoy this blast from the past. When a character changes from her "cooking apron to her company apron" as guests arrive, you know you're not in the twenty-firs ...more
Lauren Denton
Nov 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2017
First, I can’t believe this was the author’s debut. It is so well-written, so full of life, yet still tight and tense. She created a cast of empathetic characters and dropped them into this little-known time in America’s early nuclear age. Fascinating and beautiful. Well done. (Oh and what is up with the rating?? Should be well above 4 stars in my opinion.)
Nov 06, 2015 rated it it was ok

This fictional story includes events that actually happened; on January 3 1961 an explosion at a nuclear reactor in Idaho Falls, Idaho, killed three men. Adrian Williams opens 'The Longest Night' with what is essentially a prologue to the story, fictional reactor operator, Paul Collier is racing to the site of the nuclear reactor. We don't know what's happened, who's been hurt or what the fallout will bring for the first responders or the surrounding town.

I was curious about the event that inspi
Feb 17, 2016 rated it liked it
I enjoyed reading this historical fiction novel based upon a deadly nuclear reactor (the SL-1 Nuclear reactor) disaster in the 1960’s. Author Andria Williams is a wife of an active-duty naval officer, thereby adding authenticity to this story of a newly wed couple in an army town in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s. “The Longest Night” is also a period piece that focuses on army life, especially that of an army wife.

As the book jacket states, Paul Collier moves his family to Idaho Falls where he
Jessica Jeffers
Oct 10, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
An absorbing novel about the only fatal nuclear meltdown to happen on US soil, The Longest Night blends together flavors of Richard Yates and Paula McClain's fact-based historical fiction. It's the story of a strained marriage in a place--Idaho--in an era--1961--that hasn't yet become accepting of anything unconventional. But it's also the story of a man who knows something is very, very wrong but isn't sure what, if anything, he can do about it.

There's a long, slow build-up to a disaster that
Tara - Running 'n' Reading
Two years, or maybe even a year ago, I would not have described myself as a fan of historical fiction; this seems odd, considering I spent the majority of my university career studying history and that I chose to earn two degrees related to history. Maybe I experienced some burn out after all of that work, or maybe I just hadn't been reading the right historical fiction for me; nevertheless, I find that there are certain time periods and topics that suck me right in.

In addition, I've also found
Siobhan Fallon
May 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Andria Williams writes about the separation and distance of military life in a way that feels wholly original. As a military spouse, Williams brings every nuance of this world to life, but it’s her brimming talent and startling insight into the fragility and tenacity of marriage that kept me glued to the page.
nikkia neil
Thanks Random House Publishing Group - Random House and netgalley for this arc.

This is a clutch your jaw, cringing, throat stopping a scream kind of book. The era is greatly depicted and the characters stay in their times so well. I had no idea it was like this in the 60's so its great to get a slice of life and learn about a little known nuclear event.
Pam Foster
Sep 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2017
The tensions in this book are amazing - slow-growing, flaring at appropriate moments in the plot, almost all character-driven and all moving relentlessly to a climax that was surprising, understandable, just perfect. The time (1959-1961), place (Idaho Falls) and event (nuclear accident) were so well written that they became a character in and of themselves.
But it was the development of Nat, her husband Paul, co-workers Master Sergeant Richards, his wife Jeannie and Esrom that made this one of t
Donna Davis
In her debut novel, Andria Williams gives a fictionalized account of a meltdown that occurred (in real life also) in Idaho Falls, Idaho. The narrative is intimate, the characters palpable; all told, this was a strong read. Many thanks go to Random House and Net Galley for this DRC, which I was given free of charge in exchange for an honest review; I rate this novel 3.5 and round it up. The book becomes available for purchase January 12, 2016.

Those of us that lived through the 1960’s will recogni
Dorie  - Cats&Books :)
I received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I was very interested in this book for several reasons. My sister lives in Twin Falls, Idaho and had never heard about this incident nor had I. It also just sounded like a great story, one that would keep my interest as the history of nuclear energy is still being written today.

The gist of the story is listed in the description of the book. We know from the get go what the climax at the end will be. This can be o.k. with me when
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