Putney ← Back



“An enthralling novel about a bohemian family in 1970s London and the consequences of a taboo relationship.”


Putney will be published by Bloomsbury in the Uk in July 2018, 

HarperCollins in the US and by Knopf in Canada in August 2018.


“A Lolita for the age of #MeToo … It delves deep into the discussions surrounding consent and abuse of power. She has written a contemporary Lolita in which the rules of engagement have changed, women are speaking out about the ways they have been misused and the Humbert Humberts face prosecution and disgrace.” – The Observer
“Involving, beautifully written, and subtle… an incredibly unnerving account of abuse and its consequences… There are terribly difficult questions here, dealt with sensitively and intelligently.” – The Spectator
“THE NOVEL THAT WILL HAVE EVERYONE TALKING” – i-newspaper The 30 best books to take on holiday in summer 2018
A powerful – and timely – examination of desire and permission, innocence versus experience. “All children liked secrets, didn’t they..?” – Vogue 

“A novel that interrogates the intersection of love, desire and abuse… Timely and nuanced” – Kirkus starred review

“This is a really important book. I loved it. Thought provoking, emotionally complex, and tackling the topic of the day – the blurred area between consent and abuse” –  Esther Freud


“The ultimate taboo brought to life in a way that’s thrillingly disturbing and evocative.

I couldn’t leave it ” – Mary Portas


“You will be seduced, regret that seduction, swap sides, feel complicit, question yourself and the characters, the book, our current world, the multiple stories, yet never feel manipulated in a cheap trick kind of way. Cannot recommend this book enough” – Fiona Melrose (author of Midwinter)


“It is really something … She treats the tricky subject with admirable dispassion, tells a good story, and of course writes well. Ralph, Daphne and Jane are all convincing characters – all too familiar to someone of my generation; and the portrayal of the liberated Bohemians of the 1970s is superb” – Piers Paul Read


“I read it at one go, unable to put it down, until 2am … It’s remarkable, a brilliant novel, jolting and shocking and right” –Michèle Roberts


“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? It’s a great story and a riveting read. I’ll remember the characters forever” – Louis de Bernières 


“Not since Lolita and The Constant Nymph have I read a story that is as captivating as it is shocking. Surprising and challenging the reader at every turn, Putney promises to be one of the most talked about novels of this year” – Alexandra Pringle, editor-in-chief at Bloomsbury 


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.




Kirkus Reviews
“A novel that interrogates the intersection of love, desire, and abuse… Timely and nuanced”


i Newspaper
“Zinovieff’s dark and disturbing novel delicately probes the lines between abuse and consent in this atmospheric, intelligent and ambiguous story about a very problematic relationship in bohemian London in the 1970s.”



Publishers Weekly
An “incendiary story of sexual obsession and abuse …traveling back and forth between the 1970s and today, the novel makes a convincing case for how the anything goes ethos of that earlier decade can lead to a reckoning decades later”



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