Few books are more romantic than this trilogy, nor more surreal. Griffin Moss is a rather doleful, lonesome, gaunt, and haunted postcard designer in London. Sabine Strohem is an illustrator of stamps living on an island in the South Pacific. One day Griffin gets an extraordinary letter from Sabine revealing that she knows all kinds of things about his life and work--somehow, she can share his soul from afar. They start exchanging love letters, yet it remains an open question whether Griffin and Sabine are two hearts that mystically beat as one, or simply illusory. "You're a figment of my imagination," Griffin accuses Sabine. "You cannot turn me into a phantom because you are frightened," Sabine replies. Phantom or soul mate, Sabine is pursued across the globe by Griffin in an increasingly impassioned fashion, and the mysteries deepen.
The legendarily popular trilogy of books containing the Griffin-Sabine correspondence literally contains the correspondence: postcards, front and back, and letters in envelopes pasted into the book, which the reader must open and read--a temptation few can resist. Nick Bantock's story was way ahead of the computer game Myst, with which it shares a moody allure. Bantock designed hundreds of book covers (for Philip Roth, John Updike, and others) before he fled London for a lovely island off the west coast of Canada with his rather Sabine-like artist wife and became improbably famous by dreaming up this trilogy. His artwork is gorgeous, and countless romances have been intensified by exposure to that of Griffin and Sabine. --Tim Appelo