Summary: A love story for the ages, the tale of Griffin and Sabine is an international sensation that spent over 100 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list and continues to beguile readers 25 years after its original publication. Here to celebrate that anniversary is the final volume in Griffin and Sabine’s story-a book that can be enjoyed as a singular reading experience or in conjunction with the series as a whole.
The Pharos Gate rejoices in the book as physical object, weaving together word and image in beautifully illustrated postcards and removable letters that reveal a sensual and metaphysical romance, one full of mystery and intrigue. Published simultaneously with the 25th-anniversary edition of Griffin & Sabine , The Pharos Gate finally shares what happened to the lovers in a gorgeous volume that will surely delight Griffin and Sabine’s longtime fans and a new generation of readers.
The Pharos Gate, by Nick Bantock 8.25
“I’ve decided to throw caution to the wind and meet up with the woman I’ve been corresponding with for over a year. I realize the absurdity of leaving everything behind for someone I’ve never seen, but I love her.” – Griffin
A few years ago, one of my best friends stumbled upon Nick Bantock’s ‘Griffin and Sabine: An Extraordinary Correspondence‘ in a second hand bookshop. Convinced that the unusual tome, which was adorned with all manners of esoteric artwork, and which consisted of postcards and letters exchanged by its titular protagonists, would please me, she bought it for me as a gift.
She couldn’t have been more spot on: not only did I enjoy the aesthetic quality of the work, I enjoyed its tactile nature, requiring that readers interact with it to remove the letters from their envelopes and unfold them to read the dialogues. Further to that, I loved the surreal nature of the story which found Griffin being contacted by a mysterious stranger from a faraway land.
I loved it so much that, after discovering that it had developed into a series, I bought the rest of the trilogy. Then I requested the follow-up trilogy from my local library (until such time when I could buy them as well). I even got my father to read them: he ate it all up, enamoured with them as much as I was; Nick Bantock’s series stirred both our imaginations and heartstrings.
So you can imagine my excitement when I heard about a seventh book, ‘The Pharos Gate’, which consists of “lost” correspondences.
Released in 2016, thirteen years after the sixth book, ‘The Pharos Gate’ weaves itself in between ‘Sabine’s Notebook’ and ‘The Golden Mean’, the first two sequels to ‘Griffin and Sabine’. It essentially fills in the gaps in the limited and sometimes disjointed exchanges between the duo as they attempted to reach each other – all the while adding some side characters’ perspectives.
Some of it can get a bit new agey in tone, with Griffin and Sabine discussing their connection in metaphysical and romantic terms that aren’t easily accessible for everyone and may be off-putting to some. Griffin also expresses wonder at the sights he sees during his travels, which helps us understand the character more but ultimately doesn’t really contribute much to the story.
The most interesting aspect of this book are the ominous encounters with Froletti and his minions, which adds an element of danger only hinted at before, and the finale, which finds Francesca, a woman whose home Griffin lodges in, recounting what she saw at Pharos Gate the next morning, when Griffin and Sabine are finally united – bringing closure to the story and series.
Ultimately, though, was it necessary to fill the gaps? Does this book really need to exist? Well, in some ways it’s satisfying to now have clear answers to so many unresolved aspects of the tale. But one could easily argue that ‘The Pharos Gate’ over-explains some aspects of the story, sometimes even searches for meaning, thereby lifting the veil that made the first book so appealing.
Sometimes, some things are better left unsaid, some things left unwritten.
But does it take anything away from the original work? Well, it does fill in the blanks nicely if one has read the original trilogy. Still, a small part of me has always felt that it should have remained just one book – not two trilogies. Frankly, I loved the mystery and inexplicability of much of the original; it teased the imagination deliciously. My suggestion: read just one or read them all.
Once you’ve crossed that gate, there’s no turning back.