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Ethel & Ernest Paperback – 1 Jan 1900
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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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
A classic. -- "Evening Standard" Packed full of domestic detail, Briggs s enchanting labour of love provides a personal and social record of London life between the Thirties and Eighties. A guaranteed bestseller. -- "Independent" Ethel & Ernest has a historical sweep and a sure command of social detail not often found in contemporary fiction. It deserves to be taken seriously as literature, whether told in cartoon form or not. A huge tranche of social history is here . -- "Daily Telegraph" Briggs s techniques are deceptively simple, yet terribly moving. The book is a considerable achievement, both simple and complex, emotional and dispassionate. -- "Guardian" Its charm, its fun, its sense of period, and the sure-footedness of its characters, will leave most novels standing Raymond Briggs has given us a classic. -- "Evening Standard" 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"" --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.See all Product description
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There's so much to relate to in the book. There's good memories, like when you played games or sang silly songs as a child, went down to the beach or moved up to "big" school. Raymond, it seems, did all those too. Read about how Ethel always fusses over him as mothers always will, while Ernest moderates as fathers always will. Even the hard times, like scolding, embarrassments and arguments, are relatable.
There's another side of the book too. Ethel and Ernest's life together began in the 1920's and ended in the 1970's (you'd have to be made of stone not to be moved by the ending). Follow that life as they (and Raymond) go through enormous changes and end up in a world that was unimaginable at the start of the book. There's WWII of course, the fear of the nuclear shadow, the appearance of television, the moon landing; changes that can be delivered either soberly or humorously. There's a page where Ernest reads in his trusty newspaper that they're going to legalise homosexuality... but he doesn't really know what that is!
So funny, so wonderful, so sad and so much like life. I can't recommend this book highly enough.
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.
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.
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