At ten-thirty on the morning of January 5th 1897 the trial begins of Amy Redmore, charged with murder of her husband Reggie. Two warders with a rikisha collect her from the prison in The Settlement, the foreign sector of Yokohama, and take her to the British Consulate where, in a courtroom packed with curious onlookers, a bizarre story unfolds.
Amy and Reggie Redmore meet at a Hunt Ball in Somerset when she is twenty and he is thirty-five. Dissipated by years of travelling and living in the Far East, he recognises at once the suppressed sensuality in Amy that will later be her downfall. She in turn, seduced by his maturity and by the hint of hidden violence in him, persuades herself that she is in love, and marries him against the wishes of her parents who see only that he has neither breeding, background nor money — where — as Amy herself is an heiress
Marriage takes Amy from the cool green fields of Somerset to a humid, dusty town up country on the Malay coast and from there to Japan where Reggie is to take up the post of Secretary for the Yokohama United Club. Already she has learned some disturbing things about her new husband. He has a mistress by the name of Annie Luke, and a child from that liaison. Secondly he is an arsenic addict and habitually takes massive doses — more than enough to kill a normal man.
But the real trouble begins with their new life on the Bluff, where the British all live in segregated splendour. Reggie is out all day with his work at the Club and at night he is lost to Yokohama’s social whirl and the temptations of the town’s notorious pleasure quarter. Amy, with her freshly awakened sense of independence finds new friends, and more significantly she makes enemies — people who when the time comes will brand her publicly as an adulteress and a murderess
The Painted Cage is based upon a true story and historical facts have provided a framework within which the tragedy of a Victorian woman who becomes the victim of her own sensuality, is explored.