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Ethel & Ernest [Paperback]

Raymond Briggs
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (102 customer reviews)
RRP: £9.99
Price: £7.49 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over £10. Details
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Book Description

3 Sep 1998

Utterly original, deeply moving and very funny, Ethel & Ernest is the story of Raymond Brigg`s parents' marriage, from their first chance encounter to their deaths told in Brigg`s unique strip-cartoon format. Nothing is invented, nothing embroidered - this is the reality of two decent, ordinary lives of two people who, as Briggs tells the story, become representative of us all. The book is also social history; we see the dark days of the Second World War, the birth of the Welfare State, the advent of television and all the changes which were so exhilarating and bewildering for Ethel and Ernest.

A marvellous, life-enhancing book for all ages.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 104 pages
  • Publisher: Jonathan Cape; 1st edition (3 Sep 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0224046624
  • ISBN-13: 978-0224046626
  • Product Dimensions: 15.1 x 0.7 x 22.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (102 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 16,359 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Amazon Review

Raymond Briggs has used his parents in his work before. They were the archetypes for the bemused elderly couple in his fable of nuclear war, When The Wind Blows, and in lighter vein his father has been the model for Father Christmas. But in this latest work Briggs takes it a step further in writing (and, of course, drawing) a cartoon strip biography of his parents marriage from courtship in the twenties to death in the seventies. This tribute to ordinary lives--no affairs, no illness before the end, no regrets--is inevitably a very personal work, but also serves as a fascinating social history. From when they meet as milkman and parlour maid, through the Depression, second world war, childbirth (Briggs himself gets a particularly good cameo role in the sixties, replete with magnificent sideburns), old age and death, we see a world in rapid flux while Ethel and Earnest's loving relationship remains resolutely stable. The drawings are characteristically tender--the scene when his dead mother lies on a hospital trolley is particularly moving--and the simple text gives more than a taste of these people and the times they lived through. Sentimental as well as engaging? Absolutely. But work like this gives sentimentality a good name. --Nick Wroe


"A best seller in Britain, this winsome little book is one family's twentieth century, told as a comic strip that fast-forwards through the decades. Briggs's artful rendering of his parents' striving captures the English working class, and as the tale progresses, you find yourself slowly sucked into their daily patter, amused by their cooing voices, impressed by their bravery. At the end, you're hardly prepared for the emotional wallop." --"Time "In the details of Briggs's sparkling cartoons, the characters become richly specific and endearing . . . both pathetic and heroic in the face of overwhelmingevents. [They are] what make you read through Ethel & Ernest over again." --Christopher Lehmann-Haupt, "New York Times "Ethel & Ernest works brilliantly and artfully as an archetype. It is the author's willingness to frame his love and anguish so piercingly that makes it such a singular piece of work. We should be grateful that Briggs is so brilliantly equipped to remind us of what we u sed to be, and why." --Nick Hornby, "New York Times Book Review "From the Trade Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
47 of 48 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
A beautiful moving story written by the well known author Raymond Briggs, author of the Snowman. The true story begins as Ethel and Ernest meet. Their love and life together unfolds through a series of beautifully illustrated cartoons. The reader is taken on a journey of life's pleasures and pains, through the war years and beyond.
As a nurse and a lecturer in hospice care I was drawn to the end of the book which portrays first Ethel's dying and death followed by the death of Ernest. The images are so powerful that few words are needed. The inevitability and the pain of death and loss are clearly and sensitively portrayed.
Ethel and Ernest should be available in every school, every church, and every library throughout the world. It must be on the reading list of all health care professionals.
Read this book. You will laugh and you will cry but most of all you will understand a little more of life.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully crafted, simple love story 7 Jan 1999
By A Customer
This slim volume contains the love story of Ethel and Ernest, two simple folk. Raymond, their son, is the affectionate storyteller, painting in words and pictures the story of his parents' marriage, 'til death they do part. I was in tears at the end; read it and experience times long past.
Celia Crossley
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent 4 Dec 1998
By A Customer
This book is touching, beautifully drawn and also a surprisingly informative summary of the last 50 years. As a Briggs fan, I would rate this as his best yet.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Delightful 4 Jan 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is such an unusual book. I saw Richard Briggs being interviewed on TV about this book and felt compelled to order it. A delightful, moving, book illustrating the meeting, marriage and life of Richard Briggs parents. a treasure for those of us who are sentimental and still believe in love and marriage. i highly recommend this book for those reasons and the wonderful illustrations.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Graphic biography and social history 23 Oct 2012
From graphic novel to graphic biography, lives pared down to the essentials as Raymond Briggs draws the essence of the stories his parents told him about their lives, a quarter century after their deaths in 1971.

It made both me and my partner cry. "Forty one years in the same house." Died the same year. This is the story of a century told through a marriage. Raymond Briggs stands at the end of the book in the back garden with his wife looking at the pear tree he grew from a pip - from a pear he had eaten while evacuated to the country.

Part of its strength is that his parents were the twentieth century - his father born in 1900 just late enough to avoid the first world war. He was a milk man. They were early home buyers. Their house was bombed. They argued over politics and war and rationing and Churchill. They bought a fridge and a car and mowed the lawn. Their son passed the eleven plus and went into a very different world with art school, long hair and red wine. Some reviewers think that is trite - but for me it tells me where the man who wrote `Ug' and `When the Wind Blows' came from, and it is where a lot of people have come from.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Raymond Briggs at his very best! 7 Mar 1999
By A Customer
As a child,i experianced Raymonds work in a differient manner to manny a person. This book a sheer masterpiece,exploring depths of illustration many artists have not. The story of his parents was simple,yet in great detail he would describe moments in their lifes that were not major on comparison with the rest of the story. I have loved Raymonds work since i was five.I have written to him ,and in responce,received a letter. Raymonds Work streches the minds of all young poeple alike-Raphael Verrion
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lovely book. 30 Nov 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
What a lovely story with beautiful pictures, all very vintage.
A heartfelt story typical of Raymond Briggs.
Suitable for those who wish to take a short trip down memory lane.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars moving, honest, and simple. 18 May 2011
This books format is simple to read being a cartoon strip narrative of an ordinary life. The book is moving and honest and i defy anyone not to be nearly in tears,or blubbering like a baby by the ending, i myself cried and so did others that loaned the book. Mr Briggs simple story of his mother and father, is a warts and all look at life love and relationships. I for one cannot praise Ethel & Ernest enough or find words to express its heart warming content. Buy it and tell me you are not moved by this simplistic tale.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
So amusing
Published 4 days ago by ms ds gorman
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
All good
Published 1 month ago by marksharry
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Excellent thsnks
Published 1 month ago by Christa
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
What a moving and movingly illustrated book. Truly a unique piece of work from a unique genius.
Published 2 months ago by M. Zaman
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great delivery time. Just what was ordered. Many thanks. Delighted.
Published 3 months ago by Ivan
5.0 out of 5 stars Ethel & Ernest
Read to a year 5 class after a WW2 topic and whilst looking at 'Growing Up' in PHSE. Children thoroughly enjoyed the book and engaged throughout. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Debbie Arthur
5.0 out of 5 stars The story of YOUR life
I've grown up with Raymond Briggs' books and have never read a dull thing by him. Yet "Ethel and Ernest" is something else all together. Read more
Published 4 months ago by R. Paterson
5.0 out of 5 stars Life's a bitch !
Bitter sweet story makes you realise how short life is. Beautifully illustrated and worth getting hold of. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Nick
5.0 out of 5 stars Such is the simple quality of this author
This is a truly touching book by a 20th century author who lets the reader into his family. Highly recommend this to anyone
Published 4 months ago by Chris
5.0 out of 5 stars simple and beautiful
nothing nicer than a really good book and this is lush. ideal to read with kids of any ages including older adults in care setting for reminiscence work.
Published 6 months ago by C. Spencer Weatherley
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