Emma vol. 8 by Kaoru Mori
Warning: My manga "reviews" often contain spoilers. I find it hard to adequately discuss a volume of manga without talking about it in more detail than some might like.
Emma officially ended as a series of manga with Volume 7. Volumes 8 through 10 are a series of short stories about smaller characters in the series. I like seeing different parts of the Emma world, but I wish there had been a few more volumes of Emma as a series. It ended in volume 7 with Emma and William together and planning to marry some day. So incomplete. (They do apparently get married in volume 10, but why isn't that part of the series proper?) My assumption is that Mori had to finish the series early for some publishing or financial reason...but who knows.
The first two chapters of volume 8 focus on Kelly and Doug Stowner (Mrs. Stowner was Emma's employer and William's former governess) when they were young newlyweds. It was 1851 and London was atwitter about the Great Exhibition at the Crystal Palace. The Stowners are dirt poor, but they scrimp and save and are able to visit the Crystal Palace. This was a fun chapter simply for the historical information. I've just been reading about the Crystal Palace in Bill Bryson's book At Home. Mori does a fabulous job drawing and writing about the little details of the Exhibition. The story itself isn't that interesting, but I love the history.
The next two chapters feature Eleanor, William's thwarted love. She goes to a beach resort in Brighton (think Lydia Bennet but 50 years later and eons classier) to "recover" her health. Brighton looks like the idyllic Victorian resort town. The women are in elegant dresses, the men are genteel, the weather is warm but not too warm. I have this vision of laying on a lounge chair drinking lemonade. Eleanor runs into a handsome young bachelor who is kind, classy, and eligible. I think she'll be just fine without William.
Next, there's an odd chapter about the London Times. It highlights several classified ads in the paper and how the character are affected by them. I didn't really get this chapter. The ads were very hard to read, and it all seemed rather pointless.
Finally, we have a cute chapter with Tasha, Emma's maid friend at the mansion. She's gone back to visit her family for a few days. She's just as clumsy and useless at home as she is at work. Everything she touches seems to break. Poor Tasha - everyone in her family is going somewhere or has ambitions to do so. Tasha doesn't really have any plans - she can't imagine herself married - she's reasonably satisfied as a maid. She happily spends a few days with her family, but is thrilled to get back to the mansion where she feels needed and productive.