#BookReview The Night of the Flood by Zoë Somerville @HoZ_Books

NightoftheFlood Blog TourWelcome to today’s stop on the blog tour for The Night of the Flood by Zoë Somerville, which will be published in hardback on 3rd September 2020. My thanks to Lauren at Head of Zeus for inviting me to take part in the tour and for my proof copy.

Somerville_The Night of the Flood_HBAbout the Book

Summer, 1952. Verity Frost, stranded on her family farm on the Norfolk coast, is caught between two worlds: the devotion of her childhood friend Arthur, just returned from National Service, and a strange new desire to escape it all. Arthur longs to escape too, but only with Verity by his side.

Into their world steps Jack, a charismatic American pilot flying secret reconnaissance missions off the North Sea coast. But where Verity sees adventure and glamour, Arthur sees only deception. As the water levels rise to breaking point, this tangled web of secrets, lies and passion will bring about a crime that will change all their lives.

Taking the epic real-life North Sea flood as its focus, The Night of the Flood is at once a passionate love story, an atmospheric thriller, and a portrait of a distinctive place in a time of radical social change.

Format: Hardcover (352 pages)              Publisher: Head of Zeus
Publication date: 3rd September 2020 Genre: Historical fiction

Find The Night of the Flood on Goodreads

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My Review

The Night of the Flood involves not one but several love triangles. And we all know that three into two doesn’t go, that there’s always one left over.

The four main characters all to some extent feel as if they are outsiders. Arthur arrived at Howe Farm, home of the Frost family, as a child evacuee but feels he no longer belongs there. Peter Frost feels isolated by his inability to express his true nature and his sister, Verity, finds the expectations that she will marry and start a family alien to her nature. The most obvious outsider is Jack Doherty, a pilot stationed at the nearby American air base. However, he exudes a confidence and easy charm that enables him to be absorbed into local society in a way someone like Arthur can only dream of. A fifth character, Muriel, floats on the periphery. Once a playmate of the Frost children, she now feels distanced from them by her family’s poverty and social status.

Many of the characters also share a sense of thwarted ambition. Arthur has returned from National Service disappointed with the experience. He has aspirations to be a writer or journalist but finds himself instead acting as delivery boy in his mother’s grocery shop. It doesn’t help that he harbours doubts about his relationship with Verity, his childhood sweetheart. His frustration at times manifests itself in violent thoughts. Peter finds himself landed with the task of trying to rescue the family farm from financial ruin caused by his father’s profligacy, unwillingness to embrace change and descent into despair following a family tragedy. Verity’s hopes of studying and travel seem likely to be thwarted at the first hurdle.

In creating such a complex web of relationships, the author has skilfully created the ingredients for a dramatic and enthralling story. At the centre of the web is Verity, although she seems unaware of this and the effect she has on men who, as one character puts it, circle her like dogs on heat.

Starting the story in the months before the flood creates a sense of tension and expectation. Added to this is the backdrop of fear of nuclear war and the beginnings of the Cold War with the Soviet Union. When the flood does finally occur it is both actual and metaphorical. There are dramatic scenes as people try to escape the rising seawater, rescue others and salvage homes and possessions. But the night of the flood also sees events that will have long-lasting repercussions. Like an ebb tide, it leaves Peter and others trying to piece together what, if anything, is left from the wreckage and come to terms with what has lost been forever.

The Night of the Flood is an absorbing story of secrets, obsession and thwarted desire.

In three words: Atmospheric, compelling, dramatic

Try something similar: Bitter Orange by Claire Fuller

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Zoe SomervilleAbout the Author

Zoë Somerville is a writer and English teacher. Having lived all over the world – Japan, France, Washington – she now lives in Bath with her family. After completing a creative writing MA at Bath Spa, Zoë started writing her debut novel, which is inspired by her home county, Norfolk, and the devastating North Sea flood of the 1950s.

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