Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Putney” as Want to Read:
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview


3.98  ·  Rating details ·  2,439 ratings  ·  325 reviews
In the spirit of Zoë Heller’s Notes on a Scandal and Tom Perrotta’s Mrs. Fletcher, an explosive and thought-provoking novel about the far-reaching repercussions of an illicit relationship between a young girl and a man twenty years her senior.

A rising star in the London arts scene of the early 1970s, gifted composer Ralph Boyd is approached by renowned novelist Edmund Gree
ebook, 384 pages
Published August 21st 2018 by Harper (first published July 12th 2018)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Putney, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Gail M If you lived a similar experience as a child, this book would likely evoke feeling and memories and perhaps discomfort (or great discomfort). However,…moreIf you lived a similar experience as a child, this book would likely evoke feeling and memories and perhaps discomfort (or great discomfort). However, overall it is an empowering book, battling any notions that might make sexual abuse of underage people acceptable. It provides some insights into the mind of an abuser, and an astute analysis of the mind and vulnerability of a minor, "groomed" by an adult and primed for abuse.(less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.98  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,439 ratings  ·  325 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Putney
This book frustrated the hell out of me.

Which is EXACTLY what it was supposed to do.

The story follows the Greenslay family. It's the 1970's and let's just say their lifestyle is a bit bohemian. Barefoot and braless is the way of the household. Guests come and go on a whim. Drugs and drinks always at hand. Ed and Ellie, the parents, are eclectic and self absorbed people. He an author and she an activist. Their 9 year old daughter Daphne is allowed to run wild and be free.

Ed welcome's into thei
Jun 01, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arc, fiction
This book made me mad, it made me anxious, it stressed me out with no end – and I could not stop reading it (I mean, except for frequent breaks to calm down). My Kindle died halfway through this book and I finished it on my laptop, which should give you an indication of how much I needed to get to the end.

This is story of Ralph and Daphne’s developing ‘relationship’, only that Ralph is 25 and Daphne is nine when they meet. Told in flashbacks from three different perspectives, Ralph’s, Daphne’s,
Kelly (and the Book Boar)
Find all of my reviews at:

I’m not even going to bother with a review. I am going to say the blurb is about a million and a half paragraphs too long. Do yourself a favor and only read the first one and skip all the oversharing that could potentially ruin the entire reading experience. It tells you everything you need to know before deciding whether or not you want to give this book a chance. Per that first paragraph, I can confirm Putney truly is explosive and t
Oct 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favourites
A remarkable book with all the hallmarks of a modern Greek tragedy, including the pitiful hero at the centre of this book. Everything about this book builds up to a poetic and dramatic crescendo. The ending was so fitting and was a true hallelujah moment, I felt the story ended perfectly with not such a neat and flawless ending but with an epic symphonic conclusion! I loved it!!
Elyse  Walters
Sep 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An abuser- a victim - and a witness - deliver dangerous narrative.
That’s all I’m saying!
Putney is a highly controversial novel that explores illicit behavior and how a person justifies it and makes it a beautiful memory in their mental scrapbook. It's also about consent, the protection of the vulnerable and the underage, what constitutes a sexual assault, the importance of exposing wrong doings by coming forward, and what justice does and doesn't look like.

I am uncomfortable saying how engaging this book was for me. Watching an inappropriate relationship play out while having acces
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ / 5

Full blog tour post at https://readingbetweenwinessite.wordp...

Instagram Giveaway for book at

If you can get past all of the triggers, Putney by Sofka Zinovieff is going to be THE book you will want to read this year.

What it's about: Ralph is a 27 year old up-and-coming composer when he meets with novelist Edmund Greenslay who wants to do a stage adaptation of Ralph's most famous piece. Ralph is welcomed into the laid back, extremely free-spir
Lolly K Dandeneau
Apr 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
via my blog:
'She couldn’t have known what I was feeling but I wanted to lie down before her and let her walk on me.'

That ‘she’ is a child! This novel is one of my favorites of 2018, having read it months ago it was killing me to hold back on posting a review per the publisher’s request.

A rising star in the London arts scene of the early 1970s, gifted composer Ralph Boyd is approached by renowned novelist Edmund Greenslay to score a stage adaptation of his m
"Putney" by Sofka Zinovieff is an unsettling and yet fascinating story about how one secret can destroy the lives of three people. This book takes place over numerous decades, starting from the mid-1970s until present day. There are three alternating points-of-view: Ralph (the abuser), Daphne (the victim), and Jane (the witness). "Putney" is a frank and dark novel about grooming, molestation, statutory rape, and emotional manipulation. Although the story is never gratuitous, this book might be u ...more
MaryBeth's Bookshelf
Aug 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
I could not put this book down. Does that mean I liked it? I was horrified, disgusted, and frightened as I read Putney. Does that mean I didn't like it?

This was a tough one for me. Do I think this is a good book? Yes, the writing is extraordinary. The story is told from three different perspectives and each character's voice is so clearly define. But, the subject matter is difficult. I'm not spoiling anything when I saw this is about a nearly 30 year old man (Ralph) who has a sexual relationship
Aug 11, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5, rounded down.

One would think Nabokov already had cornered the market on obsessive pedophiliac love for nymphets with Lolita, but there have recently been a surfeit of new books limning the same fertile ground. Two of the books - The Real Lolita: The Kidnapping of Sally Horner and the Novel that Scandalized the World and Rust & Stardust - stem from the same story that Nabokov based his magnum opus on, but Zinovoeff invents her own sordid tale from scratch.... and comes up with a compelling,
Stacey A.  Prose and Palate
Aug 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018-reads
"You remember how Hansel and Gretel ends?" Her voice was calm and sly.

"Uh, yes. They kill the witch and escape back home?"

"Exactly. It's Gretel, the little girl, who outwits the witch and shoves here into the oven, saves her fattened-up brother from the cage, and finds a way out of the dark forest. It's never too late to kill the witch, Daphne. Think about it. There's a natural balance in getting justice, even if it's much later. The witch should't get away with it. I know you think your case is
Bill Kupersmith
Oct 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Crucial scenes in Putney are set not in London, but in Greece, especially the sexual consummation of the ill-starred relationship between the thirty-something Ralph Boyd and the thirteen-year-old Daphne Greenslay and their final encounter aboard a ferry boat whose name appropriately translates as Holy Nectar. This story is very much a Greek tragedy. Ralph re-enacts the pattern Aeschylus described: hubris attracts Nemesis, and though vengeance is slow – taking thirty-seven years – her aim is sure ...more
Oct 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Have to clarify- the 5*s are for how well this novel is written. It exposes the dynamics of sexual abuse, and it is moving, thought provoking, and horrifying to watch a slow motion hunt so gradual that the prey didn't even realize it was being pursued, and would eventually lie down to be mauled."

The topic may not be one everyone would choose to read a novel about, but it happens far too often, and forever alters the lives of its victims. I don't understand what is controversial about this novel
Janelle Janson
Review to come. LOVE
Liina Bachmann
Nov 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018
It is impossible to "recommend" this book because of the sheer volume of paragraphs and scenes that made me feel disgusted. Despite that, I am giving it four stars. It has been named "modern-day Lolita" story but I don't agree. In Lolita the language and writing was pure poetry, a sort of lilac scent sprayed over the rotting case of child abuse. Here the writing is plain in your face good but very it is not stylistically significant. The language just gives you the story and boy is it a disturbi ...more
Nov 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
5 + Stars ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

I love this novel for so many reasons. . . It’s a story told from three different perspectives of events that took place in the 1970s and present day.

It seems like it would be confusing, doesn’t it? Three voices , two time periods. But the way the story is organized is very easy to follow. Different from other books , where I have to go back and reread previous chapters to figure out where I am. On the contrary, each chapter and each timeline are clearly distinguisha
Roman Clodia
3.5 stars

There’s no doubt about the importance of the story being told here about sexual grooming, underage sex, power hierarchies and the role of legal processes in historical sexual abuse cases – but I do wish this book had been a bit more incisive in its treatment of them.

In some cases it’s nicely subtle such as Daphne’s long-held refusal to face up to events which shaped not just her childhood but her future life:

’There are laws and what he did is illegal. You were a child.’
‘But he didn’t
Aug 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
Oh my word. I don’t even know where to start with this one. I will be honest with you. I almost didn’t make it past the first couple of chapters.

As a mother to five girls this book was brutal. Excruciating. It made me so freaking mad. Ralph is a monster disguised as a friend.

But since I finished it I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it and I think that’s the mark of a good book.

I’ve read other books that tackle this subject before – Lolita, All the Ugly and Beautiful Things - but this
Cindy Wilkerson
Aug 26, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018, adult
So wow.
I initially found it to be very difficult to read from the perspectives of Daphne and Ralph. I had to set the book down, and walk away from it several times. But once Daphne began to realize, with the help of a childhood friend, that what she had with Ralph was not right, I devoured the rest of Putney.
While I think I understand why Zinovieff took the story in the direction she did, I did find myself to be disappointed. I just wish it had a different outcome.
But make no mistake, this is a
Jen (from Quirk Books)
Jun 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
What an incredible, beautifully written novel. Very timely, especially in light of the current #MeToo and #TimesUp movements. There are many Lolita-esque books on the market as of late (like Gabriel Tallent's My Absolute Darling and Bryn Greenwood's All the Ugly and Wonderful Things) but this is the first novel of this kind that allows multiple perspectives to be told, delving into what we as readers and human beings understand about consent, agency, memory, and abuse, which sets this novel apar ...more
Bonnie Brody
Aug 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Sofka Zinovieff has a true understanding of the dynamics of sexual abuse. In this novel she follows three people over decades: Daphne, the victim; Ralph, the perpetrator, and Jane, Daphne's best friend. The chapters alternate between these three voices who each give their take on what occurred during Daphne's childhood and teenage years.

It is the early 1970's and Daphne is being brought up in a wealthy, artsy bohemian family. Her parents believe in the laissaiz-faire philosophy of child rearing.
Alexis Hall
Trigger warnings: child abuse.

Okay, this was emotionally intense, disorientating, exquisitely written and all that.

But it also left me feeling kind of empty and pointless. Part of me wonders if we need more books about child abuse being bad. And part of me worries that we do, in fact, need more books about child abuse being bad.

Only potentially relevant aside: I remember back when I played Dragon Age Inquisition, while I liked the character of Dorian (the gay Tevinter mage) I found his personal
Margarita Garova
Aug 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audio-books
I am very disturbed.
This is a tricky topic - the one dealing with child sexual abuse. Sofka Zinovieff has done a marvellously brave job delving into the murky waters of seduction and lust, and that put into the context of a 13 year-old girl's experiences, seems so unnerving. A child could be a victim of sexual abuse and not realise it, being groomed into thinking that it is a game, an exciting love affair, when in fact it is rape. Lack of awareness, however, does not prevent grim consequences i

This was an interesting exploration of child sexual abuse up until the last third. I appreciated Daphne's development as a character - slowly realizing she was raped when she was really young, by a man who "loved" her & acting to get justice.
(view spoiler)
Sid Nuncius
Jun 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
I thought Putney was an excellently written book with a lot of very good things about it. Ralph, a successful composer his late 20s becomes obsessed with Daphne, the 9-year-old daughter of his friend in a shambolic, bohemian early-1970s household. This eventually develops into a sexual affair between them when Daphne is around 13. Putney is therefore a story of grooming and child sexual abuse, which has now been so often used as a plot driver in books, sometimes lazily and exploitatively, that I ...more
Dana Mackey
Sep 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I bought this book at a new favorite book store, Books are Magic, in Brooklyn. My love for Magers and Quinn in Minneapolis has not faded, nor has my adoration for Content Bookstore in Northfield...but I'm beyond impressed with every aspect of Books are Magic. The selection is so smart/ interesting and the store hosts an event EVERY SINGLE NIGHT OF THE WEEK. If I didn't live in Minneapolis (I love Minneapolis--not leaving yet), I would live as close as possible to Books are Magic so that I could ...more
Aug 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I've seen a good bit of buzz around this soon-to-be released novel, so I'll start here (disclaimer received an Advance Readers Copy from the publisher). It is a bit of a cop-out to begin by calling it a Lolita tale, but it can also serve as a warning for those who may not like the content...not that I can imagine many people truly LIKING the content...

In 1970s England, the Greenslays live a bit of a bohemian lifestyle....people come, people go, children often fend for themselves amid the varying
Stephanie (earlgreyreads)
Aug 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
When Ralph meets 9 year old Daphne, the daughter of his eccentric Greek friends, he is suddenly completely infatuated with her. He takes her on special trips, gives her thoughtful gifts and sneaks into her room to see her. She is his queen, his “strawberry girl”. This progresses into a physical relationship that continues into her teenage years. Now 51 and with a daughter of her own, Daphne returns to her hometown and begins to process the events of her childhood. At first, she sees Ralph as a p ...more
Jun 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A thought provoking and very relevant novel.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 next »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Ordinary People
  • Expectation
  • Animals
  • Girl, Woman, Other
  • Swan Song
  • What Red Was
  • Exciting Times
  • Adults
  • Three Women
  • How to Fail: Everything I’ve Ever Learned From Things Going Wrong
  • Queenie
  • My Dark Vanessa
  • Hiver à Sokcho
  • The New Me
  • My Sister, the Serial Killer
  • My Name is Why
  • Hopeless Romantic
  • Conversations with Friends
See similar books…
Sofka Zinovieff was born in London and was educated at Cambridge. She has worked as a freelance journalist and lived in Moscow and Rome before settling in Athens with her Greek husband and their two daughters in 2001.

Her book, Red Princess: A Revolutionary Life has been translated into ten languages and she is the author of Eurydice Street: A Place in Athens.

News & Interviews

Need another excuse to treat yourself to a new book this week? We've got you covered with the buzziest new releases of the day. To create our lis...
7 likes · 11 comments
No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »
“It is quite a big deal. It's so extraordinary that we female humans should be linked to the moon and the tides. It'd sound like science fiction if you made it up – mysterious planetary forces making us bleed.” 6 likes
“Everything flows. You never step into the same river twice. Everything is changing all the time.

More quotes…