A Bride’s Story Volume 12

With a new installment due out next month, it seemed an excellent time to catch up on the volumes out since I last talked about how much I like this series. (The last book I covered was volume 9 in 2018.) This most recent is A Bride’s Story volume 12, which came out in September 2020.

As anthropologist Mr. Smith retraces his tracks before contemplating returning home, that’s an excuse for author Kaoru Mori to check in with the variety of marriages we’ve seen established over the series run. In the opening two chapters, all the characters find themselves with some unexpected free time.

It’s a wonderful, relaxing start for the reader, as a reminder that there are different ways to live, some not so tightly tied to the clock. Mr. Smith also reflects on how the everyday for the people he observes still brings joy to him as he explores.

Amir (the original bride) is singing to herself while her boy husband is off with relatives to learn hunting and other skills. The twin girls married to a pair of brothers are bored and dreaming of fantasies. One sister bride is teaching the other to read and write.

Pariya is struggling to complete the various needlework items needed for her dowery for her wedding. In spite of her bristly temperament, she’s got some friends willing to help her, and doing the work together makes it go more quickly.

Of course, all these scenes and locales and activities are gorgeously illustrated with copious detail that never gets in the way of the focus on the people and their feelings. In addition to textile patterns and nineteenth-century herding culture, there are horses and eagles … and one entire chapter dedicated to the antics of a cat named Samosa. (There’s also a chapter set in the women’s bath, with the resulting nudity, for those concerned about such things. I will say it’s a welcome reminder of the diversity of body types, and of the value of friendship.)

Mr. Smith has a camera, now, which allows for new challenges (transporting development chemicals and glass plates on a caravan) and new ways of seeing the world. His ability to capture moments in permanent form astounds those pictured. I loved this portrait of how much technology has changed how we see the world.

He also has a companion, Talas, a woman he plans to marry. She was lonely, having been widowed multiple times, and she serves as a necessary conduit between his knowledge-seeking and the rules of the culture that separate the sexes. The chapter where she takes pictures for him of the women-only areas is charming.

I’m so glad there’s much more to come in this series. I love the beauty of the pages and the time spent with the characters.

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