Victorian England may technically be a single country, but within it dwells two worlds- that of the commoners, and that of the nobles. In an era where status and the opinion of society counts for everything, a romance that breaks class boundaries seems almost impossible to countenance- at least until it actually happens. The feelings between Emma, the maid of a retired governess, and William Jones, son and heir of a wealthy businessman, cannot be denied, but can the couple ever really hope to have a proper relationship?
Historical settings often hold the unique appeal of offering a glimpse into life as it used to be, but once that novelty wears off, it is equally important to have a strong story to maintain the readers’ interest. Luckily, Emma is the perfect example of how to combine setting, story and characters to create a story that is not only engaging throughout, but leaves you desperately wanting more. By fusing Kaoru Mori’s love of England and maids with a story that takes the usual “poor girl loves rich man” plot to the next level, Emma offers a tale that never fails to deliver on the drama and romance. It isn’t too hard to guess where the story will go, but getting there is none the less enjoyable for it.
Of course, as with many tales of this type, the true strength of the series lies not so much in the story as with the characters that bring it to life. Emma is most certainly a worthy heroine, a woman who falls deeply in love but never compromises her personality because of it, whilst William’s forthright and impulsive personality proves the perfect foil to uncover the depths beneath her polite and sometimes introverted exterior. As much as this is their story, however, there is plenty more to the series than these two, with a whole supporting cast of well-defined personalities adding their own brand of colour and variety. Interesting and likable as most of them are, there is sadly not really enough time to give them as much attention as they deserve, but those looking for a more extended exploration of the supporting characters can at least turn to the recently released “Emma Bangaihen” (Emma: Further Tales) for a selection of short stories featuring the supporting cast.
Visually, Emma offers a perfect example of Kaoru Mori’s distinctive style- her lines and character designs may look simplistic on the surface, but a closer look reveals an impressive degree of shading and attention to detail. Although there are one or two errors here and there, the look of the era has also been carefully researched, with settings and backdrops expertly recreated.
It may seem simple and straightforward on the surface, but give it a chance, and Emma will demonstrate just what a compelling tale it can be. Whether you like drama, romance or simply a good historical setting, it is worth investigating this series- just be warned that you’ll be hungry for more once you’ve read it.