Start with the first volume, Griffin & Sabine, which introduces our hero and heroine via postcard.
The postcards are one of the most beautiful aspects of this story; each is an original work of art facing page, on the front, and, on the over-page, on the back, the sender’s handwritten message appears.
The book opens with a postcard from Sabine, writing to Griffin to ask if she can purchase a particular postcard that he has created.
Griffin is an artist. But Sabine’s postcard is also art.
It is handmade and a one-of-a-kind; the stamp on it matches part of the art, and her handwriting is beautiful calligraphy, the ink imperfectly light-and-dark as though produced with a traditional fountain pen.
The request reaches Griffin in England; Sabine sends it from a tiny island in the South Pacific (it would only look like a dot, she says, in an atlas).
That’s a detail from a later postcard, because there are a couple more, and then Sabine mentions something about the image on the first postcard she requested.
And it’s something that only its creator could have known.
It’s something that, as far as Griffin knew, had only existed in his mind.
But Sabine knows it. Somehow.
After that point, postcards don’t offer enough space, either for Griffin’s questions or Sabine’s answers; they start exchanging letters.
The envelopes on the facing pages are still beautiful works of art (and Sabine’s stamps, too) and on the over-page readers can actually lift the flap and pull out the letter, unfold it and read it.
This is what initially drew me to these works. I love the tactility of the project.
My copies of the letters have been read so many times (in the earliest volumes of the series, only four volumes are shown above) that the creases are worn on both sides.
That, of course, makes them seem even more real; but they were well on their way to that anyway.
The letters contain the occasional strike-out (either in Sabine’s languid handwriting or in Griffin’s typewritten text) and there is even the odd spelling mistake and queer pen mark. It really does feel like you are reading somebody’s mail.
The story itself takes a mystical turn, so I can’t say much about that, other than to say that I vividly recall an overwhelming sense of panic in the final pages, because there is no tidy resolution.
So if you haven’t read this already, and are about to go in search of it, make sure to get a copy of Sabine’s Notebook as well.
Okay, actually, you’re going to need The Golden Mean too. Thereafter the tension eases somewhat. Can’t say I didn’t warn you.