The Night the Lights Went Out by Karen White

The Night the Lights Went Out by Karen White
Pub. Date: April 11, 2017
Source: e-ARC via publisher (Thank you, Berkley Books!)
Summary: 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…
Genre: Southern Fiction, Contemporary, Mystery

Oh, Karen White. My introduction to her work was 2015’s The Sound of Glass and I was so enamored I swore I would jump right into her other novels. When I received an invitation to be a part of the tour for The Night the Lights Went Out, I couldn’t say yes fast enough!

A recent (and ugly) divorce has Merilee moving with her children to Sweet Apple, Georgia, just outside Atlanta. A new change of pace and scenery will do wonders for them all – or so Merilee assumes. What begins as a great new start at life – Merilee rents a cottage from 94-year-old Sugar Prescott who’s still stubborn and full of fire, the kids are doing well in their new, private academy, and Merilee even begins to make friends with the other school moms – quickly goes south when an anonymous blog starts shedding light on scandalous events…including the one that ended her marriage.

I have a feeling this review will be short and sweet – not that there’s not a lot to discuss, but because Karen hit yet another homerun and I just adore her. The juxtaposition of Sugar’s farm and her childhood stories right alongside the Stepfordesque tennis moms and their gated mansions, a setting so vivid I felt like I was there (not surprising, considering Atlanta is White’s hometown!), the blog posts scattered throughout the chapters. It all came together so perfectly. What really stands out in White’s novels, though, are her characters. They’re all so, so wonderfully crafted and feel like real, living, breathing people I could easily come across at the grocery store or while shopping.

The star here is clearly Sugar. 94 and full of spunk, Sugar doesn’t need more friends, thank you very much. In fact, she’s perfectly content with her childhood best friend Willa Faye and her grandson Wade. She lives for her shows and makes a point to get her daily steps in – what, just because she’s old doesn’t mean she doesn’t know what a Fitbit is! Sugar has lived on the farm her entire life and throughout the novel there are snippets of her childhood in the 30s when Mama lost one too many babies and fell into a dark depression, the night a man died on their kitchen table. Naturally I was completely sucked in to the historical aspect, but watching Sugar’s icy facade crumble as her friendship with Merilee evolves over the course of the novel was lovely.

Again, a short review, but don’t let that fool you. Karen White is a master at her craft and I loved The Night the Lights Went Out. A fantastic setting, excellent characters, and a story that swept me away all came together to make one phenomenal book. Fans of Diane Chamberlain and Liane Moriarty are sure to feel right at home with this one – and be prepared to have The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia stuck in your head!


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