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Emma, Kaoru Mori

2010/03/29

“Emma”, a graphic novel about a young maid in 19th century England, is prettily drawn and has an equally pretty story. When I first began reading it, I thought it was going to be somehow linked to Jane Austen’s “Emma,” but fans of Austen’s work should enjoy this light love story as well.

Kelly, the woman who took in Emma, serves as an adult role model and family member to the orphaned maid. She keeps an eye on Emma’s whereabouts and is cautious about William’s interest. She also shows concern about what will happen to Emma after her death, and wishes she would marry a responsible young man.

William, the wealthy young man who pursues Emma, comes off as being an overbearing, spoiled aristocrat in some scenes. For example, William presses Emma to accept a pair of spectacles, though she realizes the implications of receiving such a gift, and is hesitant to comply. When she eventually refuses, and instead suggests a lace handkerchief, William extravagantly suggests buying hundreds of them.

Emma herself is a difficult character to get a grasp on, partially because the reader is not given much insight into her thoughts, but is rather left to interpret her actions and sparse dialogue. However, it is obvious that she cares very much for Kelly, and shows restraint and responsibility.

This is a sweet story, but readers may find themselves frustrated trying to understand Emma. I can see the appeal to teen girls; however, there is some nudity in later volumes so I would hesitate to recommend the series to early middle schoolers. Junior highers will most likely enjoy it, although senior high schoolers may find it too simplistic.

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