Reviews: Mori, Kaoru

Kitchener Public Library is feeding my Kaoru Mori habit

A Bride’s Story, Volume Three — Kaoru Mori
A Bride's Story, book 3

Until Kitchener Public Library’s supply of volumes of A Bride’s Story runs out, I am going to keep revisiting this series.

Unlike the previous two volumes, the focus in Volume Three isn’t on Amir, but someone previously a supporting character and info-dump facilitator: wandering ethnologist and linguist Henry Smith. In this volume the inquisitive Mr. Smith gains the answer to a question he never asked:

Just how much trouble can an Englishman traveling alone in Central Asia get into?

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Thank you, Kitchener Public Library

A Bride’s Story, Volume 1 — Kaoru Mori
A Bride's Story, book 1

I am in no way obsessive but having read volume two of Kaoru Mori’s ongoing A Bride’s Story series without having read volume one induces a mild disquiet, as though a million rats were trying to claw their way out of my brain. Luckily for my brain, my local library had volume one.

At twenty, Amir Halgal is considered very nearly a spinster by her nomadic tribe. When the chance to marry her off presented itself, Amir’s family didn’t look too closely at the deal, or at her spouse.

Which is how twenty-year-old Amir found herself in an unfamiliar town on the Silk Road, married to twelve-year-old Karluk.

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A small cornucopia

Kaoru Mori: Anything and Something — Kaoru Mori

When Yen Press sent me Emma Volume One, they also sent me 2012’s Kaoru Mori: Anything and Something. Unlike A Bride’s Story and Emma, this isn’t an installment in an ongoing series. Rather, it is a collection of Mori’s short pieces, an interesting introduction to her work if you’ve not read her before.

This will be short.

Mori provides such number of short pieces that they exceed my willingness to take this chapter by chapter. The volume is just under 210 pages and there are forty-four items listed in the table of contents. I could take them one by one, but that would result in a very long review. It has been my experience that the longer my reviews, the less likely it is that people will respond to them. As someone once said, More Words, Deeper Hole.

Mori leads with a selection of longer pieces (although if you have not noticed that the collection is to be read right to left, you may think she’s ending with longer pieces inexplicably printed in reverse). These tend to be standalone pieces, essentially short stories. The second half of the book has a selection of shorter pieces, some single page and other, like the extensive study of corsets, somewhat longer.

Although this isn’t a long collection, the number of works included means that the author can cover a fair range in terms of subject matter and tone. There’s screwball comedy, what appears to be a melancholy lesbian romance (or whatever you call it when neither person admits that’s what’s going on), something that may be intended to be to Bunny fantasies what “Hotel California” is to the American Dream, non-fiction, and more. Not bad for a book that’s not much over 200 pages.

The author also includes, where appropriate, commentary on the various pieces.

If you haven’t given Mori a try, this is a pretty good place to start. It’s not long, so you are not investing a lot of time, but the number and variety of pieces included means that a reader will get a pretty good idea of Mori’s range.

Kaoru Mori: Anything and Something is available from Yen Press.

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No shinjū featured in this story

Emma — Kaoru Mori
Emma, book 1

No, not the Jane Austen Emma. Aside from nation of origin and sex, Kaoru Mori’s Emma has almost nothing in common with the more famous Emma; neither class, occupation, personal character, nor personal history.

Emma has no money, no family, no surname, and she owes her position as a maid (and her education and her glasses) to retired governess Mrs. Stowner’s generosity. Despite her lack of prospects, she gets lots of offers, being a comely lass. But Emma has no interest in matrimony

And then one day, Mrs. Stowner’s former student William Jones comes to pay his (extremely belated) respects to his former governess….

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Moments in a life

A Bride’s Story, Volume Two — Kaoru Mori
A Bride's Story, book 2

Ideally one starts an ongoing series with volume one … but sometimes life is not ideal. What I actually have on hand is volume two of Kaoru Mori’s manga series A Bride’s Story, so that’s where I began. First published in 2010 as 乙嫁語りor Otoyomegatari, the English language translated version was released only a year later.

In the previous volume, Amir, a young woman of a nomadic Turkic tribe roaming somewhere near the Caspian sea, was married to Karluk, whose people are sedentary. As was customary for this time and place, the marriage is not a love match but a political alliance. The marriage forms a bridge between the two communities. Neither the bride nor the groom had much say in the arrangement. Nevertheless, Amir and Karluk seem compatible enough. With time and effort, they should be able to forge a solid family.

If only Karluk weren’t twelve to Amir’s twenty…

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