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4.8 out of 5 stars
Ethel & Ernest
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on 27 March 2014
This is a biography of sorts concerning the parents of author and illustrator Raymond Briggs. It follows them from meeting each other to their passing away and all the changes they saw around them in that time. As much as it is their story it chronicles the important events of Britain including the Second World War and the founding of the Welfare State.
Told as a series of vignettes, seldom more than a page or two long, the book is more of a reminiscence than a narrative. All of these tiny fragments blend into a seamless chronological whole. Time passes imperceptibly and you get to know and care for these two people (and their son) as the book progresses.
You smile at the simple pleasures and strange attitudes of your parents or grandparents generation. You see the impact of both war and indoor plumbing and take stock of what is really important in life. Briggs also makes sure he puts some of the key emotional points of his own life in there, possibly as a form of catharsis, or an important record for his future.
The art is superb as with any Briggs book. Great attention is paid to the lettering with special borders for wireless broadcasts and a charming letter from their evacuated son. Long conversations are done in script form so as not to slow down the pictures. You can potentially see Briggs love of the colour green coming from his childhood bathroom. The book ends with a series of full page panels, some of which are mute, adding real gravitas to the closing of this heartfelt work.
Thumbs Up!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 28 March 2013
It's a lovely heartwarming representation of family life with its natural ups and downs. As per to Raymond Briggs' style it doesn't exactly have a happy ending but it is still a wonderful read. Arrived on time in excellent condition.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 30 October 2005
...A nice house, new furniture, and a lovely wife! What more could anyone want? Although Ernest and his wife were the models for Jim and Hilda in "When the Wind Blows", they are spared the violence and devastation of a nuclear holocaust and allowed to see out their days in peace (despite an ill-placed Morrison shelter almost doing for them during World War 2).
Briggs' portrait of his parents is a strange book - without real plot or narrative, it jumps from one situation to another in a disjointed and unique style, capturing small vignettes of twentieth century life but never quite expanding on them. There is no commentary or moralising, no idyllic or disasterous childhoods, no extolling of the values of family life or solidarity during the Blitz or respect for one's elders - just a series of snapshots of married life, mortgages, ancient washing machines, political disputes (Ernest is a staunch socialist, Ethel an unreconstructed Tory) and hospital endings.
Briggs is probably the best cartoonist Britain has to offer outside politics; his simple drawings have been used for everything from traditional Bogeymen to the horrors of nuclear war, and still retain the fresh innocence that made the "Snowman" so great. It's this style which allows him to make such striking statements, and which got him onto last year's Christmas stamps.
A bit like "Maus" without the backdrop of the Holocaust to focus the attention, it is Briggs' most daring work yet. In the way he has chosen to portray their lives he captures the banality of the lives of Ernests and Ethels everywhere. It's worth a look, but don't expect a simple story.
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on 27 May 2013
Briggs' art is undoubtely beautiful and distinctive, the scetch and the colouring are clear and vibrant. I liked the story, but the narrative was a bit "too easy" for an adult, meaning that this graphic novel could easily be read by a child too. Of course this doesn't mean that the book is childish, but that it gives a feeling of a nicely drawn fairy tale for all ages.
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on 4 January 2008
Like "When the Wind Blows" Briggs has captured the life of a couple prefectly. Despite not having a plot as such, it is a fantastic potted history of the 20th century on a human level. It is also a story of love through the best of times and the worst of times.
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on 9 June 2013
I like Briggs' style - the illustrations and the simple story telling. It makes it a book that can be enjoyed by just about any age. Despite the fact that it's a comic style book, you still experience a range of emotions as you read it.
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on 23 October 2013
A beautiful heartwarming story with beautiful illustrations. It doesnt feel like a graphic novel more like a bedtime book for all. Arrived in perfect condition.
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on 1 February 2013
very good book about raymond briggs mother and father and there life together befor and after he was born very intresting
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on 12 February 2015
Nice story,a bit emotional at the end.Product was as described ,likenew.Also a quick service.
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on 24 May 2015
Lovely book about Raymond's Parents. Beautiful artwork and story, very sad at the end.
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