The Venetian's Wife

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Wednesday, May 31, 2006
by Nick Bantock #14
This was the first book Bantock wrote after his very successful Griffin & Sabine trilogy in the early 90's. I enjoyed those books at the time -- I liked the combination of the artwork, the epistolary style, and especially getting to open up envelopes.

Of all of Bantock's stories (that I've read -- I'll admit I never read beyond the first three in the G&S trilogy, and I believe there are 9 of them now) I like the story of the Venetian's Wife the best. I hadn't read it in a number of years and was looking for something light and fast, so I pulled it off the shelf. Rather than the cryptic letters and postcards of the Griffin and Sabine saga, this story is told mainly in emails and computer journal entries between Sara (our heroine) and Mr. Conti (the Venetian) who turns out to be not quite who he seems. Imagine. Anyway, this book has some great India-inspired illustration, a treasure-hunt angle (Sara must reunite Mr. Conti's collection of Indian statues), a love story (Sara and her museum co-worker Marco, Mr. Conti and his dead wife -- it's not as weird as it sounds. Okay, it's weirder than it sounds, but in ways that are not too disturbing). Some of it feels really DATED, as anything having to do with computers and more than a couple of years will feel, and Bantock is not the most thrilling prose stylist to stalk the earth. However, even though I was reading it through a "why did I ever like this so much" prism, I found myself liking it again by the end. (I don't think I'm giving too much away to say that it ends well for all concerned.)
3 comments on "The Venetian's Wife"
  1. Your new experience of the book was interesting. Disconcerting sometimes to re-read something after a long interval--and get a surpise--a different reaction. In this case, a question mark, as you mention. I get a different reading with Austin and Bronte, every time. Poetry has proven more reliable than to prose, at bridging my changes of perspective. I would guess that book spoke to who you were back then, now not so much?

  2. good question! I would say for me and this particular book (because it's probably different for every book..) the difference is not just the 10 years between 26 and 36, but also because Bantock's style of artwork has become so ubiquitous since then. (He's very imitated particularly by the Somerset Studio paper-art crowd.) And I DID like the book still, it's just that I was more aware of the clunkiness of some of his writing. The story was still involving and interesting, but the mechanics of it seemed more obvious to me now. Or something.

  3. The Arts Club Theatre Company in Vancouver, BC will be presenting the play version of the books in October 2006. I can't wait!


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