The Night of the Flood by Zoe Somerville

I am ashamed to say that ‘The Night of the Flood’ has been on my tbr pile for well over a year. This was a book I picked up after the 2022 ‘Tasting Notes Live’ event where I heard Zoe Somerville speak. I finally picked it up in August from ‘The Unread Shelf Project’ prompt of ‘Immerse’, as I felt this book would be a rather atmospheric read that would transport me back to the Norfolk of the early 1950s.

This book was inspired by the real floods which hit the Norfolk coastline in 1953 – and they become the setting for a fantastic slow-burn thriller. However, the thing that really drew me into this story was the backdrop of the Cold War. It was so interesting that this was a book about civilians (rather than a pure spy story) during the time and how much of an influence this unknown quantity of what was happening actually created such an atmosphere of fear and paranoia. It is always in the background of this story, haunting the characters and making Jack such an enigma of a character (I am still not sure if I warmed to him or not as I read this story). This is, of course, combined with the hangover from the Second World War – the idea that life is precious and can be sadly cut short – emphasised, again, by the tragedy of the floods.

There is also a great study of the taboos of British society at the time. And that some of these taboos, combined with the fear generated by the Cold War, were adding to the anxiety felt by many as they attempted to live their lives – the way they were expected to, even if it was not the way they truly wanted to.

I became truly hooked on this book once I was immersed amongst its pages. I found the characters and their experiences fascinating – against such a historic background. Zoe Somerville creates so much atmosphere with her writing that you can almost imagine being there and really witnessing what is taking place, which made it a perfect choice to the prompt of ‘Immerse’.

I will definitely be looking out for ‘The Marsh House’ and adding that to my tbr pile.

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