Thursday, August 30, 2012

Jane Shaw Guide: Miss Pershore

Miss Pershore, nicknamed Miss Plum or The Plum by the Carmichaels, is a character in Susan Pulls the Strings. She lives at Number 14 Tollgate Road. She is a petite woman who is always very elegantly dressed and uses a blue rinse in her hair. A culture vulture, she frequently attends the ballet and theatre and visits art galleries, appreciating modern art in particular. At the beginning of the story, Susan discovers that Miss Pershore has become a close friend of Aunt Lucy, whom she calls Lucia (pronounced Loocher), and that Aunt Lucy has come under her spell and is becoming something of a culture vulture herself, buying alternative-style Christmas cards and hanging strange paintings around the house. Although Miss Plum lavishes expensive Christmas presents like puppets and paintings on Susan and the Carmichaels, the children do not care much for her. Susan is especially put off her because of her blue hair. The Plum makes constant short visits to Paris, ostensibly to soak up the culture. However, Susan accidentally stumbles on a cache of smuggled watches and discovers that Miss Pershore is a member of an elaborate smuggling ring, the proceeds of which finance her expensive lifestyle. When Miss Pershore discovers that Susan knows about her criminal activities, she pretends she has a gun and ties Susan up, leaving her bound and gagged while she makes her escape. But Miss Pershore, for all her skill in the underworld, seems to be of limited intelligence and blabs her escape route to Susan before she leaves, making it easy for the police to arrest her. When she is arrested and out of their lives, the Carmichaels are happy that her cultural influence on Aunt Lucy is removed and life can go back to normal. Polite, well-to-do and thoroughly middle-class, Miss Pershore is the first of a long line of unlikely crooks in the Susan series. Her nickname is derived from the market town of Pershore in Worcestershire, famous for its plums.