Angela Carter – Love

Love as a feeling can be devastating, dramatic and deeply dangerous. Three qualities Carter isn’t exactly a stranger to, so combining them was never going to make for an easy read.

The story centres around a twisted triangle of a young woman, her husband and his brother. With other characters doing no more than adding to the backdrop. Other than that I don’t really know where to start. There is blood, sweat, tears, obsession and death.

And games, aplenty. In fact this brings me to my favourite passage which describes Annabel, in one of her many incarnations – “He was struck by the newly adamantine brilliance of her eyes he did not see they no longer reflected anything… She had become a marvellous crystallisation retaining nothing of the remembered woman… No longer the vulnerable flesh and blood, she was altered to inflexible material…for she was her own, omnipotent white queen and could move to any position on the board.”

As ever it is hard to give you a review without giving anything away. And yet to say Love (according to Carter) is dark, exhausting and traumatic would be a review applicable to any of her books which just won’t do. So I will say that love, outside the book, is often regarded as the “point,” the reward if you will, which helps to sooth and give life itself meaning. But as ever, to give a topic to Carter is to flip it on its head. So Love, instead, becomes the worst of everything – a motive for death rather than a reason to live. Something the characters strive to escape from rather than long for.

All this makes it sound like it is something to be avoid, and while, like normal I wouldn’t say reading it was enjoyable.. Carter’s conjuring, like normal, somehow manages to make it compulsive reading.

It might sound contrived but it is her darkness which casts a light on the real world, her horror makes you see the delight in your own existence. And while it is undeniable Carter is commenting on the worst of humanity the end result, for me at least, is that it helps me to see the best.

Which is an odd realisation. And I almost feel it is not one Carter would like. But as she said herself –

“Reading a book is like re-writing it for yourself. You bring to a novel, anything you read, all your experience of the world. You bring your history and you read it in your own terms.”


* Shadow Dance (1966)
* The Magic Toyshop (1967)
* Several Perceptions (1968)
* Heroes and Villains (1969)
* Love (1971)
* The Infernal Desire Machines of Doctor Hoffman (1972)
* The Passion of New Eve (1977)
* Nights at the Circus (1984)
* Wise Children (1991)



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