Monday, March 7, 2016

SERIES REVIEW: Emma, Volumes 1-10 by Kaoru Mori


Emma, Vol. 10
For Ages 16+ (Sensuality, Nudity)
Manga -- Historical Romance

CMX -- 2002 (Japan); 2006 (USA)
Paperback
Borrowed from library

Goodreads

RATING: 4 STARS

SUMMARY
An upstairs gentleman and a downstairs servant share a secret love. The saga begins. In Victorian England, a young girl named Emma is rescued from a life of destitution and raised to become a proper British maid. When she meets William, the eldest son of a wealthy family, their love seems destined. But in this world, even matters of the heart are ruled by class distinctions. 

THEMES AND TROPES
Cross-Class Romance, Family

MY THOUGHTS 
Emma is a ten volume manga series that focuses on the forbidden romance between a gentleman and a maid.  William and Emma meet when he goes to visit his indomitable former governess and is shocked by his attraction to her bespectacled servant.  This unlikely couple must then deal with many obstacles to their happiness from family disapproval to broken engagements to kidnappings.

I found this series to be very cute and easy to read.  Emma and William are likable characters who both have some growing up to do if they are going to truly make their romance work.  I especially enjoyed the development of William from a man who cared little for anything to someone who was willing to sacrifice everything for the woman he loved.  Emma has a less developed journey since, in most situations, she is more reactive than proactive.  This did get a bit frustrating at times, but it was a consistent part of her character.

The best way I can describe the romance between Emma and William is sweet.  Their chemistry is obvious from the beginning and they get along very well.  I would like to have seen more interaction between them in the later volumes that would have made me believe in their happy ending more.  The class differences and the big separation plot provided some drama, but things were quickly resolved and tied in a little bow.

I liked the main characters, but I found the cast to be just as interesting, if not more so at points.  I loved the way the author built her version of Victorian England and gave many of the side characters their own journeys.  I particularly enjoyed the arc of Eleanor, William's temporary fiancee, and the various ladies maids that Emma encountered.  I really enjoyed any time that was spent on the downstairs part of the house and found the servant characters to be much more likable than their upstairs counterparts.

My favorite aspect of this whole series was the obvious love that Kaoru Mori has for Victorian England.  She has clearly done her research which is shown in the gorgeous illustrations.  My personal favorites included any of the ball scenes with the intricate details on the women's clothing, the Crystal Palace aspect of the Great Exhibition, and the inner workings of the great houses that Emma worked in.

All in all, I had a good time going through this series.  The romance was not as developed as I'm used to, but the whole experience made up for that lack.  The illustrations and side characters alone are worth the time.  I definitely will be looking into more of Kaoru Mori's work in the future.

BOOKS IN THE SERIES

Emma, Vol. 01 Emma, Vol. 02 Emma, Vol. 03 Emma, Vol. 04 Emma, Vol. 05 Emma, Vol. 06 Emma, Vol. 07 Emma, Vol. 08 Emma, Vol. 09 Emma 10 (Emma, #10)

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