It’s amazing to see how far the world has come on views of homosexuality over the past century. Goodbye, My Rose Garden is a good reminder of this as it shows the emotional hardships that gay people had to deal with, specifically in England, at the turn of the 20th century.
It’s 1900, and Hanako has traveled from Japan to England to pursue her dreams of becoming a writer. When she visits the publisher of her favorite author, Victor Franks, Hanako is immediately shut down. Luckily, aristocrat Alice is there to save the day. Alice is a kind, loving soul who takes Hanako in as her personal maid. This being a yuri manga, you already know the romantic undercurrents of their relationship, but the time period means that they can’t act on their feelings. To make things more complicated, Alice personally knows Victor Franks and can introduce Hanako to him. There’s just one thing Alice asks Hanako to do: kill her.
Why does Alice want to be killed? After reading the first volume, I’m still not quite sure. The obvious answer is that she is betrothed to be married and can’t go through with it. But there’s something deeper about how Alice views herself and her life, and it’s something that can’t be simply answered. Meanwhile, Hanako now has to answer “What would you do to the ones you loved if it meant you could achieve your dreams?” and it’s not easy. She obviously doesn’t want to kill her, but how else can she make her dreams a reality? Maybe her true dream is to be with Alice. However, the manga gives examples like Oscar Wilde to show that people who are caught being who they really are get punished. It’s this complicated, layered relationship that solely carries this book, and it’s done well enough to hold my interest.
In fact, Alice and Hanako’s relationship is so focused on that barely any of the other characters are given names, much less development. The most developed supporting character is Edward, Alice’s fiance. He’s kind like Alice, but the rumors of her being a lesbian eats at his pride and worldview, so much so that I’m sure this will evenutally lead him to commit a terrible act. Other than Edward, I can only think of two other named characters. What’s sad is that the non-named characters, like Hanako’s co-workers (servants?), have unique designs and personalities; I wish they had names along with them.
Still, plenty of movies and manga succeed on having a very small cast, and I believe Goodbye, My Rose Garden is capabale of keeping that up. It’s clear throughout the book that author Dr. Pepperco gains more and more confidence each chapter, so I want to read the next volume to see where they take the story.
England, the early 1900s. Alice, a young noblewoman, has a Japanese maid named Hanako working in her household. The two have a fairly typical relationship…until the day Alice begs Hanako to kill her. As Hanako tries to figure out why her mistress would make such a terrible request, she and Alice grow closer until an entirely new feeling begins to blossom between them. Don’t miss this poignant tale about women falling in love in historical Britain.Add to CartLearn More