The Night the Lights Went Out

  • by Karen White
  • Narrated by Carolyn Cook, Susan Larkin, Tiffany Morgan
  • 15 hrs and 18 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

From the New York Times best-selling author of Flight Patterns comes a stunning new novel about a young single mother who discovers that the nature of friendship is never what it seems....
Recently divorced, Merilee Talbot Dunlap moves with her two children to the Atlanta suburb of Sweet Apple, Georgia. It's not her first time starting over, but her efforts at a new beginning aren't helped by an anonymous local blog that dishes about the scandalous events that caused her marriage to fail.
Merilee finds some measure of peace in the cottage she is renting from town matriarch Sugar Prescott. Though stubborn and irascible, Sugar sees something of herself in Merilee - something that allows her to open up about her own colorful past.
Sugar's stories give Merilee a different perspective on the town and its wealthy school moms in their tennis whites and shiny SUVs and even on her new friendship with Heather Blackford. Merilee is charmed by the glamorous young mother's seemingly perfect life and finds herself drawn into Heather's world.
In a town like Sweet Apple, where sins and secrets are as likely to be found behind the walls of gated mansions as in the dark woods surrounding Merilee's house, appearance is everything. But just how dangerous that deception can be will shock all three women.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Try Flight Patterns or The Sound of Breaking...

...Glass first if you haven't read any of White's fiction. Those two were excellent.

White’s books that are listed in fiction (rather than romance) are always a good read. This one was too but less so than some of her others. After you’ve read a few, you realize she has a kind of formula (though it’s a more interesting and complex formula than, say, romance novels) though with this novel, she veered slightly from it. Personally, I think she read Liane Moriarty’s Big Little Lies.

The sense of place that’s always so strong in her novels was a little lacking here. I missed that. Also it was a more suburban setting than usual.

On the upside, her main younger female character (Merilee) was less prickly than usual. As per usual, the older/elderly female character (Sugar Prescott in this novel) had both an interesting front and back story. In this case, much more interesting than Merilee.

There were enough characters, layers to peel back, secrets to be discovered, mysteries to be solved, that I was not bored and always wanted to keep listening.
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- NMwritergal

A Surprising Twist

This was a fun and surprising book. It starts out with newly-divorced Merilee Dunlop renting a house from a 95-year-old woman named Sugar Prescott. Sugar, in this small town near Atlanta, Georgia, comes from a family that once owned most of the land in the area. The house is on her property and was built near the family home as a place for her and her husband.

Merilee must navigate the McMansion social life of the small community and also try to develop a relationship with her neighbor/landlady who has a reputation in the town of being crusty. As that relationship develops over baking lessons and glasses of sweet tea Sugar tells stories about her background told in flashbacks. The narrative is also divided by a new anonymous community blogger who gives lessons and insights into southern life as well as reflections on sometimes malicious local gossip.

So far, I'm thinking, it's okay. It seems like this life was pretty much covered as completely as one could in Steel Magnolias, and many of the characters seem similar. And there's no denying that the South does not operate in the same way as the rest of the country. A friend of mine followed her lawyer husband to Atlanta. She was young and had spent most of her life working and going to school in southwest Idaho. She suddenly found herself surrounded by women who had never worked a day in their lives and kept their days full with clubs, card parties, and school activities under a strict and sometimes indecipherable social order. It drove her nuts and she hurried home as fast as she could. So, yawn, southern women.

But then the book starts to leave hints of something odd afoot as Merilee tries to keep up with the Beauregards, so to speak. With a sudden twist a person ends up dead and it's clear that Merilee has been set up for the murder. The who and why become part of an interesting mystery-thriller that seemingly comes out of nowhere. Further, it develops that Sugar has had some sinister events in her past that suddenly come to light.

It's a fun spin on what could have been a pretty mundane book. I can't say that the hints don't make it clear who the evil-doer is, but the motivations and the action to bring it all to a close make it interesting and tense. So this is a cut above the expected genre and, if you take it on and find yourself getting impatient, I'd encourage giving it more time than usual to blossom for you.
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- kwdayboise (Kim Day)

Book Details

  • Release Date: 04-11-2017
  • Publisher: Penguin Audio