Graphic Novel Ethyl and Ernest

Briggs, R. (1998). Ethyl & ernest: A true story. London, England: Jonathan Cape.

Ethel and Ernest: A True Love Story is a lovingly illustrated graphic novelized memoir of the author’s parents Ethel and Ernest Briggs. The story begins in the 1920’s with Ethel working as a housemaid and Ernest working as a bicycle courier in or around the city of London, England. The courtship begins in a way old as time, the regular crossing of paths leads to recognition, appreciation and anticipation. Engagement and marriage follow as do making a home. This home is the setting for the changing of their lives and the times. A child is born. The world works away outside its doors. But in the house, in the quiet of their lives, a continuous discussion between Ethel and Ernest goes on about the world and the boy. Decade by decade the gentle history of their love and an account of the world is released in quiet conversations over tea, until a time when there can be no more discussion, just monologue. The illustrations and narrative parallel each other with supplemental strength. The ease of one turns to the ease of the other enhancing the story of an ordinary life recounted. Raymond Briggs illustrations are typical of his other work. The framing is such as it is in the wordless book “Snowman”. And like in the Snowman they tell a story beyond the words.

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