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'The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia' is a Southern Gothic song, of the murder ballad type, written and composed in 1972 by songwriter Bobby Russell and sung by Vicki Lawrence, an American pop music singer, actress, author, and comedian. The Night the Lights Went Out: the Big Blackout. By Staff of New York Times/Rosenthal & Gelb editors and a great selection of related books, art and collectibles available now at AbeBooks.com.
The Night the Lights Went Out
- Author : Karen White
- Publisher : Penguin
- Release Date : 2017-04-11
- Genre: Fiction
- Pages : 416
- ISBN 10 : 9780451488398
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From the New York Times bestselling author of the Tradd Street series comes a stunning 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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The following version of the novel was used to create this study guide: White, Karen. The Night the Lights Went Out. Berkley, April 11, 2017.
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In the novel The Night the Lights Went Out by Karen White, newly divorced Merilee Talbot Dunlap and her children tried to make new lives for themselves in a new home and new school. Even as Merilee believed she and her family were settling into their new life, an acquaintance from her past was planning revenge on Merilee because Merilee had bullied her during their high school years. At the same time, Merilee had begun to befriend Alice “Sugar” Prescott, her elderly landlady. The two women recognized in each other the signs of resiliency and strength formed by lives filled with tragedy. Each of the women also carried with her a dark secret she hid from the world. As they shared their stories and their secrets, Merilee and Sugar discovered the freedom that comes with confession as well as the healing power of true friendship.
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Sugar had not intended to befriend Merilee, her new tenant, but felt she was in a position to help the young family. Soon, Sugar began sharing stories of her own tumultuous childhood with Merilee. Sugar had grown up during the Great Depression. She had witnessed the cruelty of racism when a black man was killed when white children, including Sugar’s brothers, were goofing around on the farm. None of the white children were punished for what happened. Sugar’s mother was distant, Sugar believed that she probably suffered depression, and they never had the mother and daughter relationship she wanted. As Merilee got to know Sugar she realized that she had a good deal in common with Sugar because her life had also been filled with tragedy. Merilee’s brother, David, had drowned when Merilee was only a young teenager. Because Merilee had been in charge of watching her brother, Merilee’s mother blamed her for David’s death. Merilee had spent her teenage years trying to earn her mother’s love and acceptance. Gaining popularity was the only way that Merilee found to earn her mother’s respect so she became captain of the cheerleading squad. Since Merilee became more popular when she bullied an overweight whom she had nicknamed Daisy, Merilee made the girl’s life miserable in an attempt to win her own mother’s love.
In the present, Merilee felt out-of-place among the mothers at her children’s new school. She was one of the few mothers who had to work and was not able to devote her life to her children. Merilee admired Heather Blackwell, one of the mothers who seemed to have her life completely together. Heather and Merilee’s daughters were in the same class and Merilee was pleased when Heather took Merilee under her wing. Heather helped Merilee with her children and even bought her an expensive dress to wear at the school’s fundraiser. All the while, Heather was invading Merilee’s personal life, learning her habits and passwords, and setting up situations with her husband, Daniel, that could later be used against Merilee.
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When Merilee found Daniel had drowned in the lake during the school fundraiser, she thought his death was just a terrible accident. Then she learned that Heather was blaming her for Daniel’s death. Also, rumors were circulating about the death of Merilee’s first husband, a story she had told no one about hoping she could leave that tragedy behind her. It was only after Sugar looked at Merilee’s high school yearbook that she realized that the girl Merilee had bullied in high school and called Daisy was actually Heather. Sugar and Merilee’s other friends rallied around her to protect her not only from a physical attack by Heather but also Heather’s claim that Merilee had killed Daniel.