(Book Review) ‘Putney’ by Sofka Zinovieff

by Miki
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Ralph – aged around 30 – starts a relationship with a minor; Daphne. Is it really a legitimate ‘relationship’, if the girl was just nine years old at the time?


Set in the 1970s across both London and Greece, the two characters meet each other in the context of Ralph being an up-and-coming composer and Daphne as his friend’s daughter. Despite the twenty year age difference between them, they begin their ‘relationship’ and start building an emotional bond together.


‘Putney’ is narrated to the reader by three characters – Ralph, Daphne and her friend Jane; perpetrator, victim and witness. It was all so heart-achingly though-provoking; what really makes this book so special is the very rich quality of its writing, immersing you completely in the narrative. You are made to feel very uncomfortable reading the chapters written from Ralph’s point of view, and then experience the sadness of reading Daphne’s chapters, especially when she starts pondering her childhood memories through the eyes of her older self as a mother. The power dynamic of grown adults over minors is a key concept throughout the book that I just couldn’t stop thinking about, and the unbalanced relationships were very clearly depicted in the story.


What is sexual consent? What is love, obsession and desire? This book critically questions the intermingled existence of these taboos in society, told through a gripping storytelling and atmospheric scenery. A very controversial book, and hard to read in some parts due to its powerful themes, but I really couldn’t put it down.


  • Subject matter trigger warning: Sexual abuse of minors. The descriptions of these scenes are very detailed and vivid.
  • 警告:児童虐待の、かなり具体的な描写があります。


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