by Mary Lamphere
Griffin and Sabine, by Nick Bantock, is an epistolary, interactive, illustrated novel. At 48 pages, it was certainly a stray from recent WaR reads. (The Third Coast was 544 pages, Beautiful Fools was 368 pages, and Me Before You was 448 pages.)
Griffin and Sabine is a mystery that unfolds one handwritten letter or post card at a time. The exchange is between two “strangers” who are both artists. She lives on a (fictional) tropical island, he in London. Through their conversations we learn that for whatever reason, she is able to see through his eyes when he creates art. At first, he is logically skeptical, but over time she convinces him it’s true. This connection is very deep and they begin to fall in love through their correspondence of shared experiences and creativity. The involvement for the reader is quite personal as well, opening envelopes and flipping cards to “eavesdrop” on their discussions.
This is the first book in a trilogy and it reads as so. The end is not really an end, but it certainly gets you wondering.
Griffin and Sabine is a unique book in that the illustrations are part of the story. There is probably more story revealed through the images than there is in the words. In club, we talked about the themes, content, and interpretation. Love, loneliness, and connection were themes that resonated. Most of the group appreciated the interactive nature of the book, but wouldn’t be inclined to read more like it or create one. Our best discussions surrounded the original art and how it related to the story. The elements of style, colors, and graphic nature of the art more often contradicted the words, informing the reader of a multi-leveled story. What is really going on here?
Because of its physical attributes, Griffin and Sabine isn’t available as an e-book. Those qualities also make it hard to describe this novel. I recommend you check it out from the library, pick it up at the book store, or borrow it from me. It’s worth a perusal.