The cover of The Night of the Flood
The cover of The Night of the Flood

The Night of the Flood

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.

An archive picture of the Norfolk floods
An archive picture of the Norfolk floods


The story is rooted in a time and landscape which Zoë knows intimately, as this article from the Norwich Evening News explains. Read the article.


“Set during the 1950s in the shadow of the Cold War, this atmospheric thriller follows a love triangle that turns murderous. […] Somerville’s absorbing story of secrets, obsessions and thwarted desires is gripping and entertaining.”

The Independent

“A gem for lovers of historical fiction. […] Somerville puts a love triangle at the heart of the story to ramp up the drama further.”

The Evening Standard

“The skill in building the story until the flood occurs is brilliant, and you have both sympathy and irritation for Verity who is stuck between all these men for different reasons. […] I felt it was a very powerful read.”

Women’s Way

“A taught, evocative literary thriller which conjures 1950s Norfolk and the mirrored tensions of a love triangle and a fateful storm to dazzling effect.”


“Simmering secrets, forbidden desires and the long shadows cast by a passionate crime combine in this atmospheric and haunting debut. Norfolk is beautifully conjured and the tension rises as surely as the tide.”

Emma Stonex, author of The Lamplighters

“The Night of the Flood shows lives and landscapes suspended between past and future, life and death – and shows what happens when this fine, terrifying balance fails. A taut, impressive debut.”

Neil Hegarty, author of Inch Levels

“Evocative, glorious and tragic all at once… the writing is superb.”

Melanie Golding, author of Little Darlings

“A vivid portrait of Britain in the early ’50s and a compelling story about love and friendship, secrets and betrayal.”

Anna-Marie Crowhurst, author of The Illumination of Ursula Flight

“I’ve been looking forward to reading Night of the Flood for a while, because I’ve been hearing really good things about it, and I’m pleased to report that it was just as good as I’d hoped.” Read the full review.

Life With All the Books

“I loved this exquisitely written debut novel.” Read the full review.

Book Off I’m Reading

“Literary historical fiction which balances personal hearts and histories with the grand geopolitics of nuclear proliferation, and radical social change.” Read the full review.


TV Documentary

In August 2023, Channel 5 broadcast a documentary about the great flood, featuring Zoë as one of the contributors.

You can watch the full programme here.

Duration: 90 minutes

Zoë Somerville taking part in a TV documentary


The Night of the Flood is available in from Waterstones, and Amazon.