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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.
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