10 August 2018
The internationally feted composer Ralph, as he approaches the age of 70, is struggling with his cancer treatment. He is also flashing back to memories of the “boyish” Daphne, daughter of friends, as she was when she was nine and he was 27. By the time Daphne was 13, Ralph had patiently groomed, abducted, and raped her, though she and he both saw and still do see this as a romantic love affair. But Daphne’s friend Jane, now that both women are turning 50, sees this history differently. Putney is a thoughtful, sophisticated, often unnerving treatment of a vexed topic.This technically accomplished novel uses variations in chronology and narrative voice to map the changing social mores in sexual behaviour and the sometimes stark contrasts between the ways different people interpret and remember the same events. This novel is a tense page-turner as well as a subtle and thought-provoking read.