Justice against child predators is something that has become a major talking point in 2018 — Only this week, Woody Allen was accused of having an illicit relationship with a minor. The plot of Sofka Zinovieff’s novel Putney addresses an event that has become all too familiar.
Putney details the abuse of Daphne, who started being groomed as a nine-year-old by Ralph, who in present-day is a renowned composer. Convinced that she was in love, it wasn’t until approximately thirty-five years after the events happened that she began to view her relationship with Ralph as something more sinister. Ralph is obsessed with Daphne as a child to the point where he thinks of her as a mythical creature, unleashing his disturbing fantasies on her and grooming her to view their relationship as romantic.
To say that parts of the plot became frustrating is an understatement — in fact, I would argue that it's how you’re supposed to feel when reading Putney. For anyone who hasn’t endured a situation like the events Daphne had to go through, it would be hard to comprehend how she’s feeling. There were many moments where I had to remind myself that it isn’t as easy as simply reporting someone and seeking justice. Daphne’s character went through different stages of processing the events of her childhood (from anger to confusion). Zinovieff was also able to distinctively capture the emotions of not only Daphne, but other people impacted by what happened — her best friend who saw it happen, her friend’s husband who didn’t know his wife endured such trauma, the predator’s wife and children, as well as Ralph’s own views on what happened. Though these views were often conflicted, what they did do was show how these events affect people in an array of different ways.
Halfway through the novel, I thought the plot was starting to drag on, but the ending provided the intensity I was looking for. The structure of the novel’s plot was reminiscent of a Greek classic, which was intriguing.
I advise that if sexual abuse and grooming are events that you find triggering, you might want to reconsider reading the novel.
Putney is a gut-wrenching and stirring book about emotional manipulation, sexual abuse and grooming. It also has the power to launch a series of important conversations on a topic that’s extremely relevant in our world today.
Release date: July 12th 2018 by Bloomsbury Publishing