Sabine’s Notebook

Sabine's NotebookSummary: Sabine was supposed to be imaginary, a friend and lover that Griffin had created to soothe his loneliness. But she threatens to become embodied, to appear on his doorstep, in fact. So he runs.

Griffin & Sabine, the most creative and talked-about bestseller of 1991, left readers on the edge of a precipice. With Sabine’s Notebook, they begin-along with Griffin-the fall. Once again, the story is told through strangely beautiful postcards and richly decorated letters that must actually be pulled from their envelopes to be read. But this volume is also a sketchbook and diary kept by the possibly unreal Sabine, who is living in Griffin’s house in London while he wanders through Europe, North Africa, and Asia, backwards through layers of ancient civilizations-and of himself.

Filled with her delicately macabre drawings and notations, the notebook adds a darker element of visual intrigue to their complex and mysterious world. For the thousands who finished Griffin & Sabine and asked, “What happened next?,” this second volume in the trilogy provides the answers-but raises new and even more haunting questions of its own.

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Sabine’s Notebook, by Nick Bantock 7.75

“Griffin – Foolish man. You cannot turn me into a phantom because you are frightened. You do not dismiss a muse at a whim. If you will not join me, then I will come to you.” -Sabine

I was blown away with ‘Griffin and Sabine: An Extraordinary Correspondence‘. So blown away, was I, that I just had to read up on Nick Bantock, this impressive multi-disciplinarian who created such a wondrous read. It’s then that I discovered that ‘Griffin and Sabine’ was the first of a trilogy.

I immediately sought the rest out from my local library. Not only did they have all of them, they also had Bantock’s other books – which include a second, similar trilogy. I requested them all, and waited patiently for them to arrive – during which time I found this volume on a second-hand shop’s shelf.

I was eager to turn its pages, but for over two weeks I had been chipping away at Nancy Friday’s book and wanted to complete it before moving forward, knowing that I couldn’t very well stop at just this book – I would finish the series. As much as I loved ‘Beyond My Control’, I couldn’t get through it fast enough.

Obviously, such anticipation frequently leads to disappointment. How could it not? And I’d be lying if I claimed that I wasn’t hoping for something more, that ‘Sabine’s Notebook’ was everything I expected it to be. But I’d also be lying if I said that it was unsatisfying, that it wasn’t successful.

At the end of the last book, having received a series of progressively more scattered and depressive letters from him, Sabine traveled to London to meet Griffin – only to find his apartment deserted, with nary a sign of her soulmate. It was a stunning close that had made my heart sink; at the time, I didn’t know there was a sequel.

At the start of this new book, Sabine has received a letter from Griffin, telling her that he needed to clear his headspace and decided to travel for a while; she could stay in his apartment in the meantime. Ever understanding, she agreed, realizing that he needed time to process what was happening to them.

What unfolds is slightly disappointing, from a plot perspective: with Griffin wandering about and Sabine anticipating his return, it feels like a waiting game, as though Bantock was killing time more than anything else; he doesn’t disclose that much about his characters or the mystery surrounding them.

‘Sabine’s Notebook’, although still an artistic and conceptual marvel, is not nearly as revelatory as the first volume, lacking the surprises that had made the first one so engrossing. In fact, it’s pretty much the reverse of ‘Griffin and Sabine’: the middle is somewhat of a letdown, but the finale is killer.

Because, yes, Bantock came up with one heck of a twist at the tail end to this book – one that had me reacting audibly, left me rather puzzled, trying to wrap my mind around the turn of events. I can tell you, this series of correspondences and the relationship that is developing is indeed extraordinary… and well worth exploring.

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