Manga Review: A Bride’s Story Vol. 3

Kaoru Mori is best known for her work, Emma, an exquisite romance/slice-of-life set in Victorian England. Her latest work to be released in the United States, A Bride’s Story, is also a historical/slice-of-life but is vastly different than Emma. Set in Central Asia in a rural town near the Caspian Sea during the early 19th century, A Bride’s Story revolves around a young woman, Amir, who arrives from a distant village across the mountains to marry Karluk, a boy 8 years her junior.

Back Cover Blurb

A young widow, Talas opens her home to the researcher Mr. Smith, who has ventured to her town to continue his studies. However, when Talas’s uncle begins to see Smith as an impediment to his plans to wed his son to Talas, the old man’s schemes land the Englishman in prison! Far from friends and even farther from home, Smith’s outlook seems grim…

The RevieW

Fans of Emma will really enjoy Volume 3 of A Bride’s Story, the main focus of which is Mr. Smith. Mori-sensei seems to have a penchant for Englishmen falling for women that come from completely different backgrounds. In Emma, it was a young man of the gentry and a maid; here we have Mr. Smith and the widow Talas.

There are actually quite a few parallels between Talas and Emma. Talas’s household consists of her and her mother-in-law, and the affection the two have for one another is akin to that between Emma and her mistress Kelly. Talas’ mother-in-law worries about what will happen to Talas once she passes on, but Talas is reluctant to remarry and leave her mother-in-law behind. Talas even looks similar to Emma, though Mr. Smith is the one wearing the glasses.

The wonderful thing about the attraction that grows between Talas and Mr. Smith is that it comes about gradually and is rooted in mutual respect. The other nice thing about their relationship is that, unlike Amir and Karluk, there’s no awkward age gap. Both are adults and approximately the same age so modern Western readers can enjoy their interaction without any squick factor. But just as in Emma, a patriarch in power disapproves of the couple’s relationship so the volume closes with Mr. Smith and Talas forcibly separated. I really hope though that that’s not the last we see of her.

This being a slice-of-life, it includes several scenes of Talas doing chores as well as an entire chapter about Amir, Karluk, and Pariya scrounging up a meal at the market. “Eating at the Market” doesn’t advance the plot, but it’s a fun and fascinating glimpse into the foods of Amir’s world.

One final note: I absolutely adore this book’s packaging. The brown hardback binding and gold lettering are an elegant touch, and the colorful dust jacket is a treat for the eyes. It’s almost double the price of its paperback counterparts, but Yen Press presents A Bride’s Story as one would a classic piece of literature, a nice match for Mori-sensei’s beautiful artwork.

In Summary

The series title is A Bride’s Story, but Volume 3 could be called “A Nearly Engaged Englishman’s Story.” Mori-sensei introduces a romantic interest for Mr. Smith in the form of the young widow Talas, and those who enjoyed Emma will likely enjoy the interactions between these lovers from vastly different worlds.

First published at the Fandom Post.

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