The story centers around Ralph Boyd a gifted composer who upon being asked by a famous novelist Edmund Greenslay to score his most famous work becomes invited into Greenslay’s world where he meets Edmund’s nine-year old daughter Daphne and becomes infatuated with her. What ensues is a dark, twisted relationship and complex bond between Ralph and Daphne. We also meet Ralph when he approaches his seventies and Daphne in her fifties who looks back on her time with him and starts to realise what happened was far from innocent. Within the story we have a third voice, the voice of Jane, Daphne’s best friend whose role in the book gives us more insight into the psychological effects of the complexity of this relationship.
Putney is a gorgeously written novel, Zinovieff can write! I just love how she described things in the book. She’s definitely a skilled writer. Putney is a dark tale, a spine-chilling one when you look back on it. She doesn’t shy away from delving deep into the complexity of the relationship between Ralph and Daphne. I enjoyed how she gave Ralph flaws and issues of his own instead of just presenting him as a straight-up abuser (which he is). The whole story had depth that I look for in novels that deal with such intricate and hard subjects. My issues with the book might be spoiler hence why I won’t share them but I’ll say that certain small portions of the novel weren’t believable to me, the sudden change of opinions/realisations of things. I wished they were fleshed out better. Zinovieff does a great job at describing the atmosphere, I especially enjoyed reading about Greece. I feel like this story was told very well and that this book should be read by everyone interested in this subject matter, it’s just so important. The author doesn’t as mentioned before shy away from dealing with hard topics such as r*pe, abu** and I think that’s very important because it challenges the reader and makes them think.
If you’re interested in the subject matter this book deals with I’d urge you to get a copy of this book and read it because it’s important and well-written.
I would like to thank the publisher (Bloomsbury UK) for providing me with a review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed in this review are my own and weren’t influenced by the fact that I got this book from the publisher.
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Sofka spent most of her childhood living in London, where her father, Peter Zinovieff, had an electronic music studio (EMS). Visitors to the house during the 1960s and ‘70s included composers and musicians as diverse as Harrison Birtwistle and Pink Floyd. Both her paternal grandparents were from St Petersburg and escaped to England after the 1917 revolution. She was named after her Russian grandmother, the subject of Red Princess: A Revolutionary Life.
After attending schools in London and Oxford, Sofka studied social anthropology at Cambridge. She carried out research for her PhD in Greece, which marked the beginning of a lifelong involvement with the country. She later lived in Moscow and Rome, where she worked as a freelance journalist.
Sofka is the author of five books, the latest of which is Putney (hardback 2018, paperback 2019): ‘Lolita in reverse: a novel for the #MeToo age which addresses the minefield of sexual consent.’
She is married, has two daughters and lives between Athens and London.
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