Review of 'Ethel & Ernest'

Ethel & Ernest by Raymond Briggs

ethel_and_ernest.jpg A charming semi-autobiographical graphic novel telling the story of Raymond Briggs' parents. Briggs, beloved author of English Christmas Favourites “The Snowman” and “Father Christmas”, turns his hand at telling a much more serious, touching story beginning with his parent's chance meeting in 1928 from an open window – Ethel a maid for a wealthy family and Ernest a milkman. Attracted to each other they soon marry and move into a large house. Their political differences are soon apparent and the realities of the second world war intrude on their lives. They have only the one child (Raymond) due to Ethel's age who proves to be quite a handful (“Art school!!!”). The story follows their lives with it's highs and lows leading up to their eventual deaths within months of each other in 1971.

This is a striking, beatitful, graphic novel (winning the British Book Award for the Illustrated Book of the Year) with wonderfully compassionate images in every pane – Each a work of art in it's own right. This is not ultra-realistic art but rather warm and welcoming, gentle art that pulls you into the world but at the same time not taking itself too seriously. In that, there is humour throughout “Ethel & Ernest” with the couple continually poking and prodding each other as loving couples often do. This is not an apologetic novel and certainly the human weaknesses of the characters are laid bare – This is simply their story with both good and bad bits.

A wonderful, warm and gentle novel of the love of a man and a woman. A simple story of their normal, every day lives.

Rating: “I have absolutely no complaints”

Review Date: 2020-12-29

Genre: Autobiography

Publisher: Jonathan Cape

Publication Date: 2002

ISBN: 9781911214601

Other reviewed books by Raymond Briggs: