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Putney: A Novel Audiobook, by Sofka Zinovieff Extended Sample Click for printable size audiobook cover
Author: Sofka Zinovieff Narrator: Michelle Ford Publisher: HarperCollins Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: August 2018 ISBN: 9780062882653
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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 Greenslay to score a stage adaptation of his most famous work. Welcomed into Greenslay’s sprawling bohemian house in Putney, an artistic and prosperous district in southwest London, the musical wunderkind is introduced to Edmund’s beautiful activist wife Ellie, his aloof son Theo, and his nine-year old daughter Daphne, who quickly becomes Ralph’s muse.

Ralph showers Daphne with tokens of his affection—clandestine gifts and secret notes. In a home that is exciting but often lonely, Daphne finds Ralph to be a dazzling companion. Their bond remains strong even after Ralph becomes a husband and father, and though Ralph worships Daphne, he does not touch her. But in the summer of 1976, when Ralph accompanies thirteen-year-old Daphne alone to meet her parents in Greece, their relationship intensifies irrevocably. One person knows of their passionate trysts: Daphne’s best friend Jane, whose awe of the intoxicating Greenslay family ensures her silence.

Forty years later Daphne is back in London. After years lost to decadence and drug abuse, she is struggling to create a normal, stable life for herself and her adolescent daughter. When circumstances bring her back in touch with her long-lost friend, Jane, their reunion inevitably turns to Ralph, now a world-famous musician also living in the city. Daphne’s recollections of her childhood and her growing anxiety over her own young daughter eventually lead to an explosive realization that propels her to confront Ralph and their years spent together.

Masterfully told from three diverse viewpoints—victim, perpetrator, and witness—Putney is a subtle and enormously powerful novel about consent, agency, and what we tell ourselves to justify what we do, and what others do to us.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “A novel that interrogates the intersection of love, desire, and abuse…Zinovieff is obviously working with themes playing out in contemporary culture…Deciding to let Ralph, Daphne, and Jane each have their say in alternating chapters makes it possible for the author to present the full complexity of her subject. Timely and nuanced.”

    Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

  • “[An] incendiary story of sexual obsession and abuse…The novel makes a convincing case for how the anything goes ethos of that earlier decade can lead to a reckoning decades later.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “Thought provoking, emotionally complex, and tackling the topic of the day—the blurred area between consent and abuse.”

    Esther Freud, author of Love Falls

  • “This book is truly memorable and thought-provoking; throughout, Zinovieff sustains wonderfully perplexing and complex ambiguities. What is love and what is exploitation? What is truth and what is self-deception? What is righteousness and what is hypocrisy? Can contradictions be simultaneously true? I’ll remember the characters forever.”

    Louis de Bernières, author of Captain Corelli’s Mandolin

  • “The ultimate taboo brought to life in a way that’s thrillingly disturbing and evocative. I couldn’t leave it.”

    Mary Portas, author of Shop Girl

  • “The art of its telling is everything: the reader is duped and lulled and excited, just like the child subject, and yet we are able to understand Ralph, too…the switch from uneasy but gripping romantic narrative to discourse of abuse is jolting and shocking and right.”

    Michèle Roberts, author of Daughters of the House

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About the Author

Sofka Zinovieff was born in London in 1961. She studied social anthropology at Cambridge and is the author of three previous books—Eurydice Street: A Place in Athens; Red Princess: A Revolutionary Life; and The House on Paradise Street. She lives with her husband and daughters at Faringdon.

About the Narrator

Michelle Ford, a native Brit, has a proven track record in long narration with over twenty titles covering contemporary fiction, historical romance, paranormal fiction, biographies, children’s stories, short stories, science fiction, and business. She now lives near New York City.