A provocative and absorbing novel about a teenage girl’s intoxicating romance with a powerful older man, and her discovery, decades later, that her happy memories are hiding a painful truth
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 Greenslay’s beautiful activist wife, Ellie; his aloof son, Theo; and his young 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 for many years. When Ralph accompanies Daphne alone to meet her parents in Greece, their relationship intensifies irrevocably. One person knows the truth about their relationship: Daphne’s best friend, Jane, whose awe of the mesmerizing Greenslay family ensures her silence.
Decades 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 youth 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.