Putney
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Putney

Sofka Zinovieff

Ralph Boyd’s first glimpse of 9 year-old Daphne will be etched on his mind forever. Dark, teasing, slippery as mercury, she seems neither boy nor girl, but sprite - something elemental.


An up-and-coming composer, Ralph is visiting the writer Edmund Greenslay at his riverside home in Putney to discuss a collaboration. In its colourful rooms and unruly garden, Ralph finds an intoxicating world of sensuous ease and bohemian abandon that captures the mood of the moment. Entranced, he knows he will return. But Ralph is twenty-five and Daphne is only a child, and even in the liberal 1970s a fast-burgeoning relationship between a man and his friend’s daughter must be kept secret.

Years later, after a turbulent youth and a failed marriage, Daphne watches her twelve-year-old daughter Libby mimic the gestures of adult sexuality, and is finally forced to confront her own childhood and its shocking truths.


Putney is a bold, thought-provoking novel about the moral lines we tread, the stories we tell ourselves and the eyes of society. Written in lyrical, evocative prose, it is a rich tale of family, friendship, guilt and responsibility.

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