This story about the ‘love’ between an underaged girl and a much older man could have easily become exploitative or sensationalist. The sensitive writing, describing the main characters and their perceptions of events over time and using their own voices thankfully makes it into a believable, even human story. Although it remains one that will make you feel very uncomfortable.
Compartmentalising his life allowed Ralph to lead separate existences, each with his own truth. He pictured it like the old-fashioned train carriages that were just being phased out, where there was no corridor or link between compartments; you merely entered and left at the platform. Using this model, his obsession with Daphne had no impact on his love to Nina and Jason. He would never abandon them and explained this to Daff. It was entirely possible to love more than one person at the same time and neither relationship had to compromise the other.