Caroline the Future Librarian

Caroline Davis | LIBR 265-10 | SJSU | Wrenn-Estes

Emma (Volume 1) by Kaoru Mori

Title: Emma (Volume 1)
Author: Kaoru Mori
Publisher: CMX
Date: September 2006
ISBN-13: 978-1401211325

Plot Summary: Set in Victorian England, a young girl named Emma was rescued from destitution by a retired governess named Kelly, who trains her how to become a proper British maid.  When Emma meets William Jones, a wealthy member of the gentry who once had Kelly as his governess, the two are instantly attracted to each other, but they are unable to express their feelings to each other because of the class differences that keep them apart.  To further complicate things, a visiting prince from India, William’s friend Hakim, is also attracted to Emma and wants to court.  Also, William’s father expects him to marry Eleanor, a girl from a higher class.  In the midst of societal pressures and expectations, can true love conquer?

Critical Evaluation: The first volume of the manga series Emma is the introduction to a forbidden romance between individuals from very different worlds and social standings.  The story was quiet and slowly paced – although the latter point may have been a result of the difficulty I had in reading the panels from right to left, as I am not a frequent manga reader.  Emma was more than just a love story – the level of historical detail enriched the backgrounds of the illustrations and meant that the setting was an integral part of the narrative.  It is obvious that Kaoru Mori has done her research in creating this series, which has experienced enough popularity to be spun off into an anime series, called Emma: A Victorian Romance.  I wasn’t convinced enough that Emma was actually worth having two wealthy men falling in love with her – she was a sweet character but not a very interesting personality.  Still, sometimes it’s best to read romances where the protagonist isn’t too developed and the reader can project themselves onto the character – isn’t that why Twilight is popular?

Reader’s Annotation: During Victorian England, a maid named Emma and a wealthy member of the gentry named William Jones meet and fall in love, but are unable to express their feelings because of the class differences that keep them apart.

Author Information: Kaoru Mori is a manga artist from Tokyo.  Her manga series, including Emma and Shirley are primarily set in Britain and about maids.

Shy of making public appearances, Mori doesn’t like to be photographed and prefers to publish drawn self portraits.

Genre: Romance, Historical Fiction

Curriculum Ties: N/A

Booktalking Ideas:
1) Does social class still affect our culture?
2) Are there any boundaries that prevent people in love from being together in our modern society?

Interest Age: 14 and older

Challenge Issues: None, although the series is rated at Teen Plus, defined by CMX Manga as “appropriate for an audience of 16 and older. They may contain partial nudity, mild profanity and more intense violence.” Later volumes in the series display some nudity in a non-sexual context, which may explain the rating.

Challenge Defense Ideas: This book has no apparent challenge issues, but if a challenge comes up:

• Become familiar with the book and its content.

• Refer to the collection development policy of the library, if none, see here to develop one right away.

• Refer to reviews available for viewing on

• Try to get reviews of the book from teens who have read it.

Selection: I wanted to include some manga in the collection and was drawn to this one because the historical setting sounded interesting.


Official Emma website


May 13, 2010 Posted by | Manga | , | Leave a comment