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Thursday, December 05, 2013

ETHEL & ERNEST by Briggs

ETHEL & ERNEST: A TRUE STORY is a 1998 book by Raymond Briggs, telling the story of the life his parents shared from their meeting in 1928 to their deaths in 1971, most of that time spent in the same house they bought shortly after their marriage. This was a great book, one of the best I've read in years, I'm sorry it somehow took me fifteen years to get around to reading it. I've read some of Briggs' children's books before (and in fact found this one while looking to get a copy of one of Christmas books as a gift), but not his handful of adult books. I'll be sure to remedy that soon. He does a great job weaving the history of England in the mid-20th Century with the lives of his parents, with a lot of interesting observations about the social and technological changes they faced, bits that are amusing when you know where history will lead, lots of unexpected callbacks, some of them very subtle. The story is told in a lot of short anecdotes, sometimes only a few panels long, but each building on the last to make a complex portrait that'll break your heart as it leads to the inevitable end. And the art is just gorgeous, evoking the period perfectly.

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