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Alexandria: In Which the Extraordinary Correspondence of Griffin & Sabine Unfolds Hardcover – September 1, 2002

28 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

It's been 11 years since Bantock first introduced the eponymous stars of Griffin & Sabine, the beautiful and unusual novel in which the reader became a voyeuristic third party to the lush correspondence between London postcard designer Griffin Moss and South Pacific postage-stamp designer Sabine Strohem; two subsequent volumes completed the trilogy. Last year, Bantock launched a second trilogy with The Gryphon, reuniting Griffin and Sabine and introducing Egyptologist Matthew Sedon and Isabella de Reims, a student in Paris. At the outset of this latest epistolary volume, Matthew informs his beloved Isabella that Sabine has somehow become a part of him, in order to heighten his powers of intuition. This comes in handy when Isabella finds herself menaced by their sinister foe, Frolatti, and Matthew is called away by an exciting archeological find. Is the mysterious sculpture discovered at the dig site what Frolatti has been after? Bantock has fashioned a maddeningly labyrinthine, wildly romantic and exquisite work that reveals just how much story can be conveyed with a few well-placed words and images. He threads the theme of dualism seamlessly throughout, underscoring Sabine's assertion, "In each of us there are two worlds-the practical and the mythological" and the notion that the coming together of the two, as embodied here by Isabella and Matthew, is an essential part of some grand design. The book's cliffhanger ending will only intensify the eagerness of fans for the concluding volume, The Morning Star.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Highly imaginative and ebulliently romantic illustrator and storyteller Bantock revived the epistolary tale of Griffin and Sabine, the cosmic love story that catapulted him onto best-seller lists more than a decade ago, in his last book, The Gryphon [BKL S 15 01]. In that tantalizing volume, the long silent correspondents make contact with another smitten pair: the young archaeologist, Matthew, and his sweetheart, Isabella. As their mystical adventure continues here, Sabine affirms her psychic connection with Matthew, who has just begun work on a new dig in Alexandria, perhaps on the site of the city's legendary lost library, and Griffin continues his long-distance, somewhat spooky mentoring of Isabella, who is studying sphinxes in Paris. All four are eloquent, artistic, and oddly calm in the face of inexplicable, often frightening events that mark their approach to a hidden treasure their menacing foe seems also to covet. Bantock draws liberally on the myth of the Egyptian god Thoth, scribe and guardian of the great library, and employs a self-possessed cat as Isabella's new familiar, upping the ante on both love and mysticism only to leave his enchanted readers waiting impatiently for the next installment. As always Bantock's illustrations are exquisite, each a beautifully detailed clue to the metaphysical mystery at hand, but, as before, many of the letters are removable, making this an unlikely candidate for circulation but well worth having for in-library reading. Donna Seaman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 56 pages
  • Publisher: Chronicle Books; 1st edition (September 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 081183140X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0811831406
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 0.8 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #233,046 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Sarah B. on October 28, 2002
Format: Hardcover
After reading The Gryphon last year, I was instantly frustrated that I was going to have to wait a year for the next installment. About two days into the agony, I realized that the true bummer was that this new story line seemed to be preplanned to leave off in order to pre-sell the next book. After reading Alexandria, I feel that my conclusion has more basis. Alexandria IS an amazingly beautiful book, and some of the letters are absolutely inspired, but it lacks the storytelling power of the original trilogy. Instead of the letters slowly revealing a relationship, they are starting to resemble gimmicky plot devices. The revelations seemed more trite and some of the more interesting occurances are glossed over in a single postcard. Part of the wonder of the first three books is that each could stand nearly alone. The end of each book did not instantly suggest a followup. Alexandria, like The Gryphon before it, kind of stops that narrative because there are no more pages in the binding. Grrr.
If you are considering this book as your introduction to Nick Bantock, please go elsewhere (Either start with Griffin and Sabine, or maybe even The Forgetting Room). Alexandria is kind of an odd duck for me. I thoroughly enjoyed reading and savoring each of the letters, but felt let down and even kind of patronized by the way the story line was delivered. The "flow" is just very different from the first half of the Griffin and Sabine saga. Not completely bad per se, just very different. So a four star kind of a let down rather than an outright rejection.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Katie on October 20, 2002
Format: Hardcover
The artwork in "Alexandria" is just as strange and beautiful as in the first four books in the series - maybe more so. I'm reminded of Griffin's dark travelogue in "Sabine's Notebook."
I love the original Griffin & Sabine trilogy but was initially disappointed with "The Gryphon," the fourth book in the series. Bantock's new time-and-space-crossed lovers, Matthew and Isabella, weren't as compelling to me as Griffin and Sabine. They seemed awkward and even a little trite. After reading "Alexandria" I appreciate "The Gryphon" a lot more: Matthew and Isabella deepen as characters as the plot moves forward.
I'd recommend this book to diehard Griffin & Sabine fans or anyone interested in graphic novels. Fans of Egyptology might be pleased...hard to say, since there could be gross inaccuracies in the book. I know nothing about ancient Egypt. I sure liked the book, though.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By BeachReader on December 3, 2002
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I rushed out to buy "Alexandria" as I have done with all of Bantock's books since I was first gifted with "Griffin and Sabine" many years ago.
I love his work....his books are such a visual treat that even if I do not know what is going on, I enjoy them. I love handling them and looking for hidden clues in the drawings.
That said, I feel that I don't know Isabella and Matthew as well as I knew Griffin and Sabine. G and S were much less mysterious and I was able to make more sense of what was going on. I also felt that Bantock wrote each of his original trilogy without resorting to cliffhangers, a device which I find a bit off-putting, and which he used in "The Gryphon" and again in "Alexandria".
However, none of these complaints will stop me from buying anything Nick Bantock writes!
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Sarah Lewis on September 30, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I am a librarian, so as soon as the I found that this book had been ordered, I put it on hold. As always, the long wait for Mr. Bantock's latest book is worthwhile.
This book picks up where The Gryphon left off, with Isabella at university and Matthew in Egypt. Alexandria is visually stunning (which won't surprise Mr. Bantock's devotees) and it's fun to see the artistic choices of our four characters. There are some surprises in this volume, both for the reader and the characters.
One aspect that I found particularly interesting was learning the background behind how Isabella relates to love, and to loving Matthew. We find out more about their relationship by finding out about her past.
Much remains the same... Frolatti menaces and meddles, Griffin and Sabine offer wisdom (do they know how everything will end?), and (of course) the book ends with a cliffhanger, making it essential that we get the third book as quickly as possible!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By wiredweird HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on May 17, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I like the novelty and skill in Bantock's work - I like it a lot. It's just that I don't see a lot of his novelty in this second trilogy. In the first series, a man is driven to some unseen fate by correspondence from a mysterious, other-wordly being. In this series, a couple is driven to some unseen fate by correspondence from a mysterious, other-wordly couple.
The format is very evocative. It's a voyeuristic look at the letters and postcards between the dramatis personae. We actually open the envelopes and read their mail. It gives a sense of naughtiness - "Is it OK for me to do this?" It's the same format as in the first series, though. The freshness is off it, it can't be a new experience again.
I would have been a lot happier if this series gave new information. Where is Paolo, or the Sicmon Islands? Who or what is Frolatti, and what is Frolatti's involvement? How does Sabine do - well, I'm not sure what she does.
I like Bantock's layered art (even when it's over-worked) and his fascination with stamps and postmarks. I really do want to see the story of Griffin and Sabine move forward. The tale seems to have stalled, though. Perhaps his success with the original G&S has left Bantock nervous about changing his formula.
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