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More than a decade ago, I discovered Nick Bantock through his amazing Griffin & Sabine trilogy in which the reader becomes a kind of voyeur to the artistic and mysterious correspondence between a postcard designer (Griffin) and a postage-stamp designer (Sabine). Last year, Bantock began a second trilogy with The Gryphon as, through a series of postcards and envelopes with actual letters folded inside, we read the postcards and letters of Sedon and de Reims and become fascinated with the magic of their connection. These lovers, separated by vast distances, write of their longing, their fears and their desires, and are guided into uncharted regions by the experienced Griffin and Sabine.

The quality of the artwork remains superb, as Bantock's deft handiwork and beautiful design provide more pleasure with each successive viewing. Initially you cannot help yourself from rushing through to the end, reading each piece of mail quickly, almost afraid that the fictional recipient is going to walk in and catch you. But a second reading becomes a delight as you ponder the wonders described and allow yourself the joy of studying each page in detail, and marvel at the fantastic art there. I did think it was a bit weird that there are two postcards entirely in French – I had to use an online translator to figure out what was said.
 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, I had a nagging feeling of being drawn in by gimmicky plot devices. The revelations seemed somewhat trite and some of the more interesting situations are glossed over in a single postcard. Part of the wonder of the first three books is that each could stand nearly alone. Alexandria feels like book two of a trilogy.  I highly recommend Alexandria for the art, and that may be enough for some readers. ~review by Lisa Mc SherryAuthor: Nick BantockChronicle Books, 2002$19.95
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