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Ethel & Ernest

Ethel & Ernest
Raymond Briggs
Knopf, 1999
Source: Library
Audience: Adults, Older Teens

From Goodreads:
Poignant, funny, and utterly original, Ethel & Ernest is Raymond Briggs's loving depiction of his parents' lives from their first chance encounter in the 1920s until their deaths in the 1970s.Ethel and Ernest are solid members of the working class, part of the generation (Brokaw's "Greatest Generation") that lived through the tumultuous era of the twentieth century. They meet during the Depression -- she working as a chambermaid, he as a milkman -- and we follow them as they encounter, and cope with, World War II, the advent of radio and t.v., telephones and cars, the atomic bomb, the moon landing. Briggs's portrayal of his parents as they succeed, or fail, in coming to terms with their rapidly shifting world is irresistably engaging -- full of sympathy and affection, yet clear-eyed and unsentimental.

The book's strip-cartoon format is deceptively simple; it possesses a wealth of detail and an emotional depth that are remarkable in such a short volume. Briggs's marvelous illustrations and succinct, true-to-life dialogue create a real sense of time and place, of what it was like to experience such enormous changes. Almost as much a social history as it is a personal account, Ethel & Ernest is a moving tribute to ordinary people living in an extraordinary time.


I had no idea Ethel & Ernest existed until my husband brought it home. I loved The Snowman as a child, and was excited to find an adult graphic novel by Raymond Briggs! Reading the story of his parents was interesting, especially because of all of the history they lived through. Some scenes didn’t transition very well or seemed random, but all in all, it was a great book. I loved his art and reading about his young life.

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