BOOK REVIEW – ANGELA CARTER – THE LOVES OF LADY PURPLE from FIREWORKS 1974 Vintage Press.
One of Carter’s greatest and scariest horror stories. This is actually two overlapping tales that flow effortlessly from one to the other. In the parent narration, a Japanese puppeteer develops his art, and travels through Europe, performing in his own language, accompanied by his two sons, and none of them make any effort to learn the cultures of the peoples they entertain.
The story told centres around the main puppet, the enigmatic and mysterious Lady Purple. It is her tragic and evil life that the puppet show creates. Lady Purple was evil from infancy, destroying everyone who ever showed her love or affection, including her parents. Becoming a powerful prostitute and brothel madam, she ruined many men, and women, but as age and the diseases caused by her passion ate into her, trade slowed down, and she became more insatiable, until she was reduced to making love to flotsam & Jetsam on the beaches. Eventually she died and the gods reduced her to a wooden effigy of herself. It was believed that a puppet maker then came along and fashioned the wood into the puppet that was now central to the show now presented.
After a show, the ageing puppeteer, who never lets his sons touch the main puppet involved in the entertainment, notices that the puppet Lady Purple needs some basic repair work. He takes her to his lodgings alone to work on her, where she springs to life and drains his blood as a vampire would. She burns the hose and his body to cover her tracks and sets off, instinctively drawn to the biggest brothel in town, to recommence her career in prostitution.
A scary story with an unforgettable central villain – a story well worth filming.
© Copyright. Arthur Chappell
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