A Bride's Story starts out relaying the daily life experiences of Amir and Karluk, a newly wedded couple that live in a Turkic town in Central Asia, near the Caspian Sea. The time period is the late 19th century and Amir has just been "given" as a bride to the Eihon family who live in a rural town. Amir is from the Halgal clan, who are a semi-nomadic tribe. Amir and Karluk are unique in that Amir is much older than Karluk; at the time of their marriage, Amir is 20, while Karluk is 12. By the 6th volume, it's mentioned that Karluk will be 13 soon. The manga follows many of their daily interactions, from Amir learning what it's like to bake bread in the town amongst all the other women to Karluk acting as a guide for Mr. Smith, an English researcher who has been living with the Eihon family for some time. The addition of Mr. Smith was a very smart move by the author as there are various aspects of daily life that need more detailed explaining to be understood. Having Mr. Smith there, asking questions as to why the family does things a certain way helps the reader learn a lot about the culture of the clans. It never seems forced or awkward, it's really just a researcher asking simple questions that (mostly) Karluk and Amir try to explain. At some point, the storyline leaves Amir and Karluk and we follow Mr. Smith for a while as he travels away from the family. While following his travels we meet three other young brides: Talas, a young woman who has been married no less than 5 times but each one of her husbands has passed, and Laila and Leyli, two twins who are constantly worried about whether or not their father is looking for a good husband for them. While at first I was jaded because I wanted to know more about Amir and Karluk, it was nice to explore the stories of other brides and see how their experiences differed to that of Amir and Karluk.
Eventually, the manga circles back to Amir and Karluk. Their marriage is actually facing some trouble since it seems that Amir's family wants her back in order to give her as a bride to the Numaji tribe. This would be a marriage of convenience of course, since the Numaji tribe are extremely powerful and own many lands which the Halgal (Amir's clan) need in order to feed their horses. Of course Karluk's family will not let go of her so easily and Amir herself does not want to go. One of the conversations that really stands out in my mind is when Amir asks her brother Azel (who has been charged with bringing her back) why they can't send any of the other girls of marrying age. She
|Azel's intense gazes. I confused him for a girl at first!|
There are certain parts of the manga that can seem dull to readers because it feels like "nothing is happening" but I quickly realized that Bride's Stories is really more of a slice of life manga. It doesn't really have one overall plot (although the issues between Amir and her family are generally treated as the main plot). The whole point of the manga is to show what life was like for young wives living during this time. A lot of research went into this manga which can be gleaned from the little bits of
|Amir and Karluk in their home.|
|Amir and Pariya washing clothes.|
|One last picture so you can see more of the beautiful intricate artwork!|