Griffin and Sabine by Nick Bantock (1991)
Series: Griffin & Sabine Trilogy #1
Goodreads Summary: It all started with a mysterious and seemingly innocent postcard, but from that point nothing was to remain the same in the life of Griffin Moss, a quiet, solitary artist living in London. His logical, methodical world was suddenly turned upside down by a strangely exotic woman living on a tropical island thousands of miles away. Who is Sabine? How can she “see” what Griffin is painting when they have never met? Is she a long-lost twin? A clairvoyant? Or a malevolent angel? Are we witnessing the flowering of a magical relationship or a descent into madness?
This stunning visual novel unfolds in a series of postcards and letters, all brilliantly illustrated with whimsical designs, bizarre creatures, and darkly imagined landscapes. Inside the book, Griffin and Sabine’s letters are to be found nestling in their envelopes, permitting the reader to examine the intimate correspondence of these inexplicably linked strangers. This truly innovative novel combines a strangely fascinating story with lush artwork in an altogether original format.
I heard this book mentioned on an episode of the podcast Books on the Nightstand and immediately knew I had to pick it up. It’s written in letters and postcards and the front and back of the postcards is shown, so there are some beautiful illustrations. The pictures are also referenced in the letters at times so it’s nice to have that added component.
Also, reading this book makes you feel like you’re receiving snail mail! In a time when most correspondence is electronic, getting letters often feels so special and luxurious. In the book there are also several actual envelopes and letters included. So you actually open up the envelope, take the letter out, and read it. How cool is that!?!
It also feels kind of like you’re spying on someone by reading their letters. You can’t wait to see what the person is going to write back, and you get caught up in their dialogue and exchanges.
Aside from the cool format of the book, the story is also really cool. There’s sort of a sci fi/fantasy element in that Sabine is able to “see” the art that Griffin creates. She’s not sure how it happens and it’s not really the center of the story. Instead it’s more about their relationship which is very sweet and engaging. Still, I love stories that have a background supernatural or science fiction element.
So, all in all, this was the perfect book for me! There are two more in the series and then there is another sort of companion series. This was somewhat confusing to me at first so, if you’re interested, here’s how the series goes:
Griffin & Sabine Trilogy
Book #1: Griffin and Sabine (published 1991)
Book #2: Sabine’s Notebook (published 1992)
Book #3: The Golden Mean (published 1993)
Morning Star Trilogy
Book #1: The Gryphon: In Which the Extraordinary Correspondence of Griffin & Sabine Is Rediscovered (published 2001)
Book #2: Alexandria: In Which the Extraordinary Correspondence of Griffin & Sabine Unfolds (published 2002)
Book #3: The Morning Star: In Which the Extraordinary Correspondence of Griffin & Sabine is Illuminated (published 2003)
I can’t wait to read the rest of these books! Unfortunately my library is missing the second book in the first trilogy. And these little gems aren’t easy to find. They seem to be rather obscure. So I’m undecided if I’ll just skip to the other books. If you can find a copy and you love unique books, epistolary fiction, and reading letters, definitely check these out!
My Rating: 4 Stars