Sunday, July 19, 2009
Emma, vol. 2
The story: This volume starts off with what eventually becomes a romantic date between William and Emma at the Crystal Palace. While their time together solidifies in William's mind that he wants to be with Emma, his family, who has made their fortune as successful merchants, adamantly opposes the pairing. Further complicating things is Eleanor, a young woman from a well-to-do family who has eyes for William alone. Lastly, it seems that fate has other plans for these star-crossed lovers when Emma's employer passes away. Without a job or a home, what will Emma do next? Is there any hope for these two, or are the obstacles before them simply too much?
Reaction: Ah, the romance has begun and, with it, a great deal of both internal and external conflict. If it weren't for the existence of future volumes, I would have thought our young couple had already experienced a tragic ending. Regardless, I enjoyed this volume, despite the annoyance of a couple of characters, namely Vivi, William's youngest sister, and Eleanor, the young woman besotted with William (who also shares her ardor for William with his other sister, Grace).
Deep thoughts: Class distinctions are emphasized throughout this volume. While it was initially hard to imagine such delineations of society, especially since America has no nobility and "rags to riches" is a common theme in American literature, they still exist even here. Where Victorian England had countesses and dukes, the United States has celebutantes and the uber rich, or political dynasties, such as the Kennedys or the Bushes. Instead of Emmas, we have the working poor, whether they're undocumented immigrants working as day laborers or maids, or people struggling to support their families on low hourly wages at the local discount store.
Artwork: Again, there's nothing remarkable to the character design. But, Kaoru Mori excels at showing Victorian England with her deft hand. Whether it's illustrating a lush dinner party, or a poor girl selling flowers, Mori catches snapshots of both simplicity and elaborateness. Her artwork truly immerses one in the setting and any criticism of the characters and their design quickly becomes a moot point.
The verdict: Highly recommended. This volume was an improvement upon the first. There's now a deeper conflict afoot and it's well worth watching the fallout of Emma's decision, especially considering all the challenges any relationship between her and William will face. Emma is available in the U.S. from CMX.