Zinovieff does well in requiring her readers to see the relationship from Ralph’s point of view as well as Daphne’s. The novel pulls off a tricky juggling of voices and times so elegantly that you may not notice when a new voice is heard 30 years before or after the preceding one, but it is worth attending to the technical skill behind its music ... It is rare to find oneself reading so compulsively a book that promises no resolution or easy answers; I admired this combination of intellectual honesty and bravura storytelling. The conclusion, when it comes, is morally satisfying and plausibly complex: there is no betrayal of the novel’s architecture for a neat ending ... the 40-year time frame, the large cast and the changing points of view lead to the occasional dumping of information needed to get you to the next time and place, and there is an assumption that readers know London intimately. But these are small quibbles about a novel that is accomplished, timely and unusually well wrought.
Zinovieff interrogates the reader through these myriad voices to consider whether Ralph and Daphne’s relationship can represent both seemingly oxymoronic states [romance and abduction] ... the differing styles of narration— Ralph’s poetic lyricism, Daphne’s slow-burning convictions and Jane’s no-nonsense, scientific mind—are sharply defined, and form an intriguing final portrait. It is a disturbing, well-structured, nuanced story that provides no simple answers—an important addition to an urgent, current conversation.
Thought-provoking and relevant, Sofka Zinovieff’s new novel Putney will provide plenty of book groups with fodder for discussions about female sexuality ... The story is a nuanced portrayal of the relationship between a 30-year-old man and a 13-year-old girl, but it’s less Lolita than an homage to The Constant Nymph ... Putney may not ultimately offer justice, but it does offer closure, which for some victims may be just as cathartic.