Book Review: THE NIGHT OF THE FLOOD by Zoë Somerville

Title in white on blurred blue forest with a red canoe
Genre: Historical
Age Range: Adult
Star Rating: 2 stars
Series: Standalone

Synopsis:

Her heart beat hard. There was a crazed beauty to the storm. It was almost miraculous, the way it took away the mess of life, sweeping all in its path…

No-one could have foreseen the changes the summer of 1952 would bring. Cramming for her final exams on her family’s farm on the Norfolk coast, Verity Frost feels trapped between past and present: the devotion of her childhood friend Arthur, just returned from National Service, and her strange new desire to escape.

When Verity meets Jack, a charismatic American pilot, he seems to offer the glamour and adventure she so craves, and Arthur becomes determined to uncover the dirt beneath his rival’s glossy sheen.

As summer turns to winter, a devastating storm hits the coast, flooding the land and altering everything in its path. In this new, watery landscape, Verity’s tangled web of secrets, lies and passion will bring about a crime that will change all their lives forever.

Synopsis taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.


Review:

This was the January read for my book club. It’s not a book I would have picked up otherwise, as it’s pretty much a tangled mess of attractions and lust, with a bit of cold war suspicion in there for good measure. I wasn’t particularly interested in the love lives mess – it just didn’t engage me as it felt like it could be summed up as young adult making silly choices in the first grip of love/lust – and not having a clue what to do with their feelings.

When my book club and I discussed it, we all pretty much had the same thoughts – this book does nothing new, and tries to do too much which leaves most things feeling underdeveloped.

The Cold War suspicion was my favourite part of it – the edge of uncertainty and tension that meant it wasn’t just “I don’t like the guy who fancies you from jealously.” It adds a mystery element to the book to work out exactly what Jack is up to (and the answer was quiet surprising, but also perfectly in keeping for the character, who I never liked!)

It also wasn’t the typical Cold War suspicion of “this person might be a Russian spy.” Instead it’s about whether he’s spying for the Americans and if letting him/them into the country is a good thing. Are they letting the Americans turn their quiet countryside into a danger zone with bombs and increasing the threat of Soviet attack? That helped make this book different.

The flood sequence was also good. Just all that terrifying water flooding the place, the loss of life and general ruination of everything. It was so horribly real.

There’s a character, Muriel, who is a very minor POV character, and I honestly don’t know why. She isn’t really involved in the story at all, just watches on the outskirts, or occasionally goes fishing. She doesn’t impact the love mess, doesn’t do anything at the climax to help/hinder. She’s just there.

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