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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.

©2017 Karen White (P)2017 Penguin Audio

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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.

12 of 15 people found this review helpful

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Fabulously Sparking Southern Novel

This was my first book by the best selling author, Karen White, and l was so impressed by the depth of her character development and the breadth of the story she tells. This story was both immediately engaging and entertaining. Can't wait to read more Karen White books! Thanks to my friend, Marion Hoffman for the recommendation!

The overall story alternates between Merilee and Sugar. Sugar's portion of the story occasional jumps from the 2016 to the 1930's and 1940''s for Sugar's backstory. These transitions and jumps in the book are effortless for the reader.

I absolutely loved the inclusion of the "The Playing Fields" blog. The posts are creatively interspersed throughout the book and add much humor and levity. And while White keeps the the Sweet Apple community in the dark about the identity of the blogger, you will know who it is at the end, if not before!

And what's not love about Sugar Prescott. She is by far my favorite character in the whole book. She reminds me so much of my grandmother, Mamie, who was born and raised in Magee, Mississippi. Everyone in town knew Mamie. She was always baking something wonderful. Mamie cooked lunch for the Lion Club every Wednesday for 30 years and she made the best fried chicken, chicken and dumplings, and sweet pickles ever! And she was not shy about telling people what she thought, just like Sugar.

The Night The Light Went Out has so many intertwining stories that the book is definitely not boring. There are friends to meet, stories to uncover, secrets to share and mysteries to solve. Throw in a romance, a tornado and the lights going out and this book is just down right great!

Favorite Quotes:
"Life shouldn't be an unbroken road of wonderful. It's the curves in the road that build character and show us our mettle."

"Life's journey doesn't mean much without friends."

"Every path has its puddles, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't travel them. We just need to remember to wear our boots and bring our friends and those who love us."

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Karen White is back and in good form!

Yet another fantastic character study of Southern life from Karen White. I was immediately drawn in by her wonderful descriptive personality assessment of each character. Ultimately the protagonist is easily guessed but the journey to reach the revelation is quite enjoyable. As always, I couldn't put her book down.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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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.

7 of 9 people found this review helpful

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Very entertaining

Big Little Lies meets Sweet Apple Georgia. Karen White never disappoints. Very entertaining and characters that I fell in love with.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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Good story, exhausting "heroine"

Would you try another book from Karen White and/or the narrators?

Author: no. Narrators: yes.

Any additional comments?

This could've been a terrific book if the heroine hadn't been such a bumbling nitwit who apparently has no capacity for remembering anything. Not to mention the excruciatingly tedious "suspense" scenes that rambled much longer than necessary.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Overdramatic and silly

Any additional comments?

The book had some good bits to it but it serious. The story of young Sugar was strong but didn't fit into the silliness of Merilee's modern day drama. I found a lot of Merilee's chapters boring and an odd contrast to strong Sugar. Additionally as others said, the plot was incredibly predictable.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Predictable

One could quickly figure out where this story was going. No real surprises. One exception was the identity of the author of the blog. Once identified, I was a little confused as to why she would have wanted to embarrass the the people she did. Narration was good to excellent. This book is a good summer "beach read".

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Predictable. Too much detail

The story was slow moving and predictable with a couple of eye rolling corny moments. Like when her daughter by accident watched 20 minutes of The Godfather movie and she makes a note to watch her carefully to see if she will need therapy. C'mon!!
I don't think I'd call it bad, just not as good as some of her other books.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Not impressed

I did not like the voice of the reader for Sugar in the past. Also, the story was convoluted and long for what it ultimately evolved to.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful