Friday, October 21, 2016

Griffin and Sabine, Sabine's Notebook, and The Golden Mean by Nick Bantock

The Griffin and Sabine books are my latest reading project. I call it a project because I plan to read one book right after the other. And then read them again.

These books hold much more than a story though. They are a feast for my senses. They have everything I love: handwritten letters, postcards, stamps, colorful, albeit sometimes strange, illustrations. There is so much creativity on these pages written and embellished by Nick Bantock that I am dazzled. 

I have read through the first book of correspondence between Griffin, a London postcard artist, and Sabine, a woman living on a South Pacific island with her own artful style. What fun it is to actually open an envelope and read a letter written by one or the other.

How these two came into each other's worlds you will just have to find out for yourself. I wouldn't dare spoil the surprise. 

I was working in an independent bookstore in 1991 when the first of these books came out. It was terribly popular and caught my eye but for some reason, although I loved the look of its gorgeous pages, I just never took the time to give it more than a cursory glance.

Now is my chance. 

After these three, there is also The Morning Star Trilogy that continues the story of these artistic correspondents. And just this year, a seventh book, The Pharos Gate, has been published. You can see what I mean about this being a project!

Here are a few close-ups of the delights contained in this world of Griffin and Sabine:

A stamp in bloom

A handwritten letter - in fountain pen, no less - from Sabine

A closeup of one of the fanciful postcard drawings

Even the end papers are intriguing

And a Postscript:

Oddly, this envelope (not part of the book)
 with its handwritten message
was tucked into the pages of Griffin and Sabine
This on the heels of my post about finding
strange things in books!

Have you already been enchanted by Griffin and Sabine or will you be adding these works of art to your reading list?


  1. I was sure I'd read the first Griffin and Sabine book, but it doesn't show up on my Book Read list. That doesn't mean I didn't read it, just that I read it during one of the times when I wasn't so careful about logging in my reading. I remember the book being charming and lovely. I almost named one of my cats Sabine. My stepson had a dog named Griffin.

    1. Hi, Joan. Sorry to be so slow in responding to your comment but have been leaf-peeping in the Smoky Mountains. The colors were not as vibrant as in New England...more of soft rust and orange colors but still a treat for the eyes.

      I was reminded about these books upon recently meeting a woman named Sabine. She had not heard of the series so I was doing a little investigating and discovered how many more have been published since the first one. They are very fun to look through.

  2. I read at least the first one of the Griffin and Sabine books a long time ago, probably when it first came out. I remember that it was a work of art! This was long before I started sketching and keeping illustrated journals, so perhaps a rereading is required, especially now that there are more books in the series. I think I would appreciate them more now.

    1. Hi, Kathy. Sorry to be slow in answering your comment but am just returning from a trip to see fall foliage in the Smoky Mountains. A grand display!

      I agree with you about maybe not appreciating the first Griffin and Sabine book before I started my own art journey! Now, of course, I find them inspiring and love looking not only at the illustrations but reading the couple's secret correspondence. Definitely give them a try.

  3. When these came out I was lost in a welter of getting married and having a baby on top of working full time. Therefore, my favorites of this epistolary genre are the "Postman" books by the Ahlbergs...

    1. Hello and thanks for the laugh. I had to look up the Postman books! They look delightful and I can see how you would have been attracted to them during that time of your life. I will have to give them a try!

  4. Belle, these are lovely. I, too, ignored them when they came out. Perhaps I thought they were picture books!

    1. Well, Kat, they are picture books but so much more. I enjoyed reading and looking at them. Give them a try.