Story & Art: Dr. Pepperco
Translation: Amber Tamostaitis
Adaptation: Cae Hawksmoor
Lettering & Retouch: Kaitlyn Wiley
Editor: Danielle King
Publisher: Seven Seas Entertainment
In turn of the 20th century England, homosexuality was a punishable crime. Anyone who keeps up with the sordid affairs of literature’s great writers will know that novelist and playwright Oscar Wilde was imprisoned and later exiled because of his affairs with men and boys. It is in this climate that the heroines of Goodbye, My Rose Garden find themselves — a time when many of the most renowned novels were being penned and the rules of polite society were beginning to buckle under the growth of modernity.
Hanako is a young Japanese woman who has come to England to pursue her dream of becoming an author. She is a huge fan of the writer Victor Franks, and brings her manuscript to his publishing house in the hopes that she might meet him, or at least get him to read her work. She is told in no uncertain terms that he will not accept any visitors, and turned out immediately. Alice Douglas, a noble young woman who witnessed the whole ordeal and was impressed with Hanako’s ability to stand up for herself, quickly follows Hanako out and invites her to come work as her maid when she learns that Hanako has nowhere else to go.
Thus begins a fraught, historical yuri romance that shakes up the strict English hierarchy with drama and style. Hanako, much like the other maids in the Douglas home’s employ, is bowled over by Alice’s extreme kindness to her staff. In fact, Alice strikes a deal with Hanako: She will introduce her new maid to the eminent Victor Franks, under the condition that Hanako kills her. This is a strange request to say the least, but Hanako slowly learns that Alice is rumored to have had romantic feelings for another woman. The constraints of polite English society life make it so that, though she is wealthy and privileged, she cannot live freely. She is already engaged to the son of another prominent family, and though he is kind, and she understands her responsibility to her family, she is miserable.
Though Goodbye, My Rose Garden seems at first blush that it is one of those doom and gloom queer romances, there is surprising hope and levity at play. Hanako, coming from Japan with very different ideas about love and freedom, tries to help Alice renew her investment in life. Creator Dr. Pepperco clearly understands the history well, plumbing the depths of Victorian literature and utilizing a bevy of historically accurate information of the time period. They (jokingly?) claim that they mostly wanted to make this series because they loved maid uniforms, and it is true that all of the fashions depicted are done so with great care. The artwork is richly detailed, conveying warm, cozy Englishness with great success.
Once again, readers are being treated to a yuri romance that pushes the boundaries of what has been more commonly localized in English. Alice has real-world concerns about her sexuality and her place in society. Though it is clear that she cares for Hanako and vice-versa, the romance is slow to blossom, with Hanako’s first concern being her ability to support and serve her kind mistress above all else.
For those wishing to escape to an English country estate affair, the first volume of Goodbye, My Rose Garden is now available from Seven Seas Entertainment. Volume two will be available July 21, 2020.