Friday, May 20, 2011

Emma, Volume 3 by Kaoru Mori

Emma is on the train with her new friend, who is amazed that Emma is not only a maid, but that she worked for the same woman for almost six years. Her friend has never worked for the same house for more than two years at a time, and wonders if it is because she isn't up to snuff. Still, she finds the place she is working for now to be very pleasant and enjoys working there.

Edward, meanwhile, is back in the bosom of his family, getting thrown together with Eleanor on a riverboating party. While Edward's sisters matchmake with Edward and Eleanor, Edward is thinking of maids, or one in particular, since even a picnic on a riverbank requires the assistance of maids to lay out and serve. But he is also starting to worry his family. Ever since Emma left, he has become a paragon, doing all the work he once shirked out of boredom, attending parties, balls and invitations to tea that he once would have declined, and always coming to dinner with the family, not to mention staying up late at night to finish his work. But is it because he misses Emma, or is it because this is the only way to impress his father with his being grown up and a real man so that he can get his father's approval to marry the woman he wants- Emma?

Meanwhile, Emma is hired on at the Manor house owned by the same woman who is Mistress to Tasha, her friend from the train. The household is staffed by people both English and German, and although Emma is used to being a maid, she isn't quite used to the way that this household does things, nor of being one of over thirty servants and one of eight housemaids. But in addition to her new duties, there also come new compensations. For example, when the daughter of the house has a birthday, the servants, after her party, can have a party of their own.

Emma is unused to parties and drinking, so she ends up washing glasses with another servant named Hans during the party. Neither of them are used to parties, and from him she finds out that the Household and half of the servants are actually from Germany. Emma drinks some rum, thinking it is tea, gets tipsy, and goes to bed. The next day, she finds out that the daughter of the house wets her bed, and the son has a pet squirrel, which she helps get down when he gets tangled in the bed curtains. And then she becomes the one who is assigned to accompany the mistress of the house when she goes visiting.

But the woman that Dorothea visits, Mrs. Trollop, is a mystery, heavily into the orient in decoration, with a pet monkey, takes an interest in Emma. Could it be for her own son, and why would an aristocrat want a maid for her son? Or is she just interested because Emma is beautiful?

Well, now Emma is out of her comfort zone. No longer serving the only woman who has ever employed her as a maid, Emma has shown that she can survive in the world of a much larger house, with other servants. It's the other servants who seem to be immature and childish, getting drunk and partying like college kids on a bender. But it's Emma's levelheadedness that makes her invaluable to the head servants, and may get Hans interested in her. Away from Edward, will she fall for someone else?

And Edward has his own problems, like his family, to deal with. But is his little hissy fit having the effect he wants it to have? Will his parents realize that his behavior is due to having an upperclass version of a tantrum? Or will they just enjoy the effects? So far, it hasn't made anyone see the pain he is feeling, except for his old friend, Hakim, and Edward isn't talking, and is still thrown together with Eleanor more than he wants to be. But she seems to be truly falling for him, so how can he be with Emma without causing her pain?

Both Emma and Edward's stories are interesting, and I want to see and read more of both of them, and so I will. It's a quiet story, very much like my favorite series, Fruits Basket, and I like that it is set in Victorian/Edwardian times, which gives it a different feeling from modern day stories. I really like it, and I think that other readers will as well.

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