Skip to main content

Book 29: The Venetian's Wife: A Strangely Sensual Tale of a Renaissance Explorer, a Computer, and a Metamorphosis by Nick Bantock

I first became aware of Nick Bantock's illustrated novels when I came across the first edition of Griffin and Sabine: An Extraordinary Correspondence when it was published in 1991. I didn't read them, however, until a few years ago, and found them beautiful - and the story rather superficial.

This story concerns a young art conservator, Sarah, who is lured away from her safe museum job by a mysterious man who only corresponds with her through emails. While she works on his behalf to reunite an old art collection on his behalf, his story unfolds and she undergoes a spiritual and sexual transformation.

Like Bantock's other books, it is beautifully decorated with the author's artwork, but is not as tactile as the books in the Griffin & Sabine and Morning Star trilogies, as the art is just printed on the pages and there are no fold-ins to unfold or envelopes containing letters to pull out.

The story is told more in text than in images, which means that the readers can use their imagination more to see things in the mind's eye than trying to decipher the symbolism and meaning of images. It is, like the previous books, written in epistolary form, but here it isn't just a correspondence, but mainly diary entries interspersed by correspondence. It also has mysticism and a love story in common with the other books.

I enjoyed the interplay between the text and illustrations, but found the story just as paper-thin as in the other books. I wish I could say this was a deeply spiritual story, a nicely sensual tale, a good mystery, a good ghost story or even an original ghost story, but no such luck. The spirituality is superficial, the sensuality isn't, the title gives away too much about the mystery, and the ghost-in-the-machine story has been done better by other, more skillful writers. It's the art and its relevance to the text that makes the book worth reading (once).

P.S. I am seriously considering cutting one or two of the illustrations out of the book to frame and hang it on my wall. (I looked for prints of them, but couldn't find any of these particular illustrations).


Popular posts from this blog

List love: 10 recommended stories with cross-dressing characters

This trope is almost as old as literature, what with Achilles, Hercules and Athena all cross-dressing in the Greek myths, Thor and Odin disguising themselves as women in the Norse myths, and Arjuna doing the same in the Mahabaratha. In modern times it is most common in romance novels, especially historicals in which a heroine often spends part of the book disguised as a boy, the hero sometimes falling for her while thinking she is a boy. Occasionally a hero will cross-dress, using a female disguise to avoid recognition or to gain access to someplace where he would never be able to go as a man. However, the trope isn’t just found in romances, as may be seen in the list below, in which I recommend stories with a variety of cross-dressing characters. Unfortunately I was only able to dredge up from the depths of my memory two book-length stories I had read in which men cross-dress, so this is mostly a list of women dressed as men. Ghost Riders by Sharyn McCrumb. One of the interwove

Mystery author # 14: Patricia Wentworth

This time around I read three books for the review. Patricia Wentworth wrote about the same number of non-series mysteries/thrillers as she did Miss Silver books, but all I managed to get my hands on are Miss Silver stories, so the author review is based on them alone. (Typically, I came across some at the flea market on the weekend after I wrote the book reviews, but I’ll review them independently when I feel like reading them). Title: Grey Mask Series detective: Miss Maud Silver No. in series: 1 Year of publication: 1928 Type of mystery: General crime Type of investigator: Amateurs and private detective Setting & time: London, England, 1920’s Some themes: Blackmail, kidnapping, theft, murder Story: Charles Moray returns to England four years after his fiancé, Margaret Langton, jilted him, a week before their wedding. He discovers that she is a member of a secret society and that some of its members are planning to cause an heiress, Margot Standing, to lose her inheri

How to make a simple origami bookmark

Here are some instructions on how to make a simple origami (paper folding) bookmark: Take a square of paper. It can be patterned origami paper, gift paper or even office paper, just as long as it’s easy to fold. The square should not be much bigger than 10 cm/4 inches across, unless you intend to use the mark for a big book. The images show what the paper should look like after you follow each step of the instructions. The two sides of the paper are shown in different colours to make things easier, and the edges and fold lines are shown as black lines. Fold the paper in half diagonally (corner to corner), and then unfold. Repeat with the other two corners. This is to find the middle and to make the rest of the folding easier. If the paper is thick or stiff it can help to reverse the folds. Fold three of the corners in so that they meet in the middle. You now have a piece of paper resembling an open envelope. For the next two steps, ignore the flap. Fold the square diagonally