The Night of the Flood

Written by Zoe Somerville
Review by Ann Northfield

Norfolk, 1952. The war is over, but its shadow is still very much in evidence. The nearby airbase and the mysterious American soldier, Jack, add to the febrile atmosphere of suspicion and secrets. Verity Frost is stuck on her family farm, and although she has the devotion and comradeship of her childhood friend Arthur, she yearns for something more. The glamorous and charismatic Jack causes her to fall in love and risk everything. More than one person is in love with Jack, however, which adds to the secrecy and passions. Is Jack who he says he is? Can he be trusted?

The strong feelings are reflected in the weather – events are woven into the real-life North Sea flood of 1953, which provides the climax. This is a literary novel with the focus more on the characters and their emotions than action. The reader comes to care about the characters and can see how obsession and passion can make someone behave in unusual ways. This is a debut novel, and it will be interesting to see what Somerville produces next.