Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Ethel & Ernest A True Story by Raymond Briggs

This is definitely a book I would recommend to all upper primary and lower secondary students. It is a graphic novel by English author and illustrator, Ronald Briggs which tells the story of his parents from their initial meeting in 1928 until their deaths in 1971. It is an engrossing and thoroughly enjoyable history capsule making reference to many significant events in British society during these years. The plot is a heartwarming progression through the lives of Ethel and Ernest with it's ups and downs, and  their joys and sorrows. When Ernest meets Ethel, she is a lady's maid with a middle class mentality and firm ideas of what is respectable. She marries Ernest, a milkman with socialist ideas and a passion for progress. Eventually they are blessed with a son, Raymond,  and live in a London suburb experiencing the Great Depression, World War II and the bombing of London, as well as the postwar advances such as the advent of television and automated household appliances. The book richly depicts London working class life and makes references to the major political developments of the 20th century. This books succeeds in making the social history personal. The illustrations can only be described as small masterpieces, which coupled with a witty and thought-provoking dialogue between two people from totally different classes makes for page turning reading. It is a tribute to ordinary folk living through quite extraordinary times.

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