The Ocean at the End of the Lane

Have you ever visited an old friend or a childhood spot, which you haven’t seen with adult eyes before? And as you look at the face or place, a memory comes to mind; a recollection so fantastic—so unlike something the person you’ve become would think or do—that you would swear that it was a dream? What if it isn’t and you find yourself all grown up, facing your childhood monsters? We all know adults aren’t as brave as kids…

A middle-aged man returns to his childhood home to attend a funeral. Although the house he lived in is long gone, he is drawn to the farm at the end of the road, where, when he was seven, he encountered a most remarkable girl, Lettie Hempstock, and her mother and grandmother. He hasn’t thought of Lettie in decades, and yet as he sits by the pond (a pond that she’d claimed was an ocean) behind the ramshackle old farmhouse, the unremembered past comes flooding back. And it is a past too strange, too frightening, too dangerous to have happened to anyone, let alone a small boy.

Forty years earlier, a man committed suicide in a stolen car at this farm at the end of the road. Like a fuse on a firework, his death lit a touchpaper and resonated in unimaginable ways. The darkness was unleashed, something scary and thoroughly incomprehensible to a little boy. And Lettie—magical, comforting, wise beyond her years—promised to protect him, no matter what. 
I was taken by Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane. Halfway through the third chapter, I knew this would be one of my reread-every-year novels. It is a short novel, but filled with enough symbolism to populate worlds. A grown man, who gets to think himself back to boyhood, allows the reader to experience the most important event in his life—one that he doesn’t quite remember… The story, the boy-man’s memories—and perhaps the entire world—are held together by the Hempstock women: a maiden, a mother and a crone full of magic, life, death… and rebirth.  

The Ocean at the End of the Lane is a delicious read. If, like me, you have a thing for yummy tales, fly over to Incipient Wings for a A Book and a Blanket... and read on ;-) 

38 comments:

  1. GAH! Now I have two more books to wishlist on Amazon (though I figured I'd get to the newest Gaiman eventually)

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    1. You reading wishlist can never be too long ;-D

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  2. thank you Magaly...sounds like something I'm going to have to have. definitely going to try this:)

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    1. It was a yummy read. I love the boy, the middle-aged man he becomes, the three women... even the antagonist is likable, for she can't help what she is.

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  3. this is definitely on my list... btw he also does comic books...

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    1. My Piano Man and I are total Neil Gaiman addicts, both prose and comics. Let me know how you like this one. If you read all his books, you'll grin every now and again when you find tiny allusions (almost imperceptible ones) to other words. I love it.

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  4. I did have this on my TBR pile but your review and reccomendation is moving it up higher.
    Sounds like something good to be under a blanket with.

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    1. WoooHooo! Let me know how you enjoy it. It was delicious!

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  5. Sounds good! Is that photo of the audio book? I see it is "written and performed" by the author.

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    1. It is! I first read it and then listened to it *shhh!* I just really enjoy the way Neil Gaiman reads his books.

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  6. It sounds like a good read and now that I'm back in Ohio there are many places I haven't visited because I know it'll bring back a lot of memories. Maybe one day my adult self will be more brave than my child self. ;)

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    1. I don't think the adult me will ever be as brave as the child me. Maybe because Adult Magaly understands that Child Magaly was only unaware of the dangers her bravery represented... or maybe she didn't care; children are so unpredictable.

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  7. I discovered Neil Gaiman with American Gods and my only complaint is that he doesn't have MORE! He has a unique voice and a real gift with story telling.

    I just finished The Ocean at the End of the Lane last week and I loved it. Ocean's eyes stuck in my memory more than anything for some reason. I'll say no more, to avoid spoiling any one.

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    1. I LOVE American Gods, so a rich books. It might be my favorite, right along with Gabriel García Márquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude.

      Maybe one day, we can have a rereading party, and enjoy one of Neil Gaiman's yummies together!

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  8. Sounds like a nice read, Gaiman's stories are wonderful! Thanks for sharing :)

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    1. Nice and then some; the book is delicious. So short and so satisfying!

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  9. I LOVED this book! And you are right, this is a keeper to be reread. Love Gaiman's works.

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    1. I love the man's words, too. There is something about his style that makes me all happy and curious inside. The earthiness of this book, in particular, left me very happy...

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  10. This sounds really good. I'm reading "The Graveyard Book" by N. Gaiman right now...

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    1. I'm sooo jealous that you get to read The Graveyard Book for the first time. I can't wait to read it again. And I sooo hope he writes one to follow the story... I love the characters.

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  11. Sounds intriguing... I tend not to return to places... I get devastated with the change. Though I do peek via google earth!

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    1. I find myself going back again and again... The changes are hurtful, most of the times... I've found myself learning to appreciate, and even love, the new things.

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  12. Oh girl, I LOVE this book and just happen to have an autographed copy! (Oh yeah, shaking my booty). Neil the delicious was in Nashville on his last book signing tour in October, and his presentation with that dreamy enticing voice was something which surpassed all that is magical, memorizing, and sensuously tranquil. It began to storm, and thunder boomed outside the War Memorial auditorium, which is where we were, and he read from chapter 8, where that terrified little boy ran in the cold, and wet. It was simply magnificent. I too, will reread this book every year. Thanks for sharing this moment with me. ;-) Mina

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    1. You lucky, lucky, lucky Witch! I can't type anything coherent. I'm just squealing a lot LOL

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  13. Well, now I'm intrigued. *adds to wishlist*

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  14. I've only read a few of Gaiman's books, usually shying away from fantasy - but this sounds like something I would enjoy. Do you think?

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    1. I think you might enjoy how this book explains the "darkness" of the world and in the heart its people. It is fantasy so full of realism that some parts left me a bit breathless...

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  15. I adore Neil Gaiman and his work.
    For me, this book is perfect in every way x

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  16. This book sounds excellent!!!

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    1. I think you would enjoy this one, my friend. It is short and it portrays some rather mysterious (and mischievous) birds...

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  17. Mr. Gaiman keep appearing so many place I look lately. And, once again here. Seems like the universe has something for me within Mr. Gaiman's work. It sounds like a wonderful read!

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    1. If you haven't read any of his work, I recommend it all (okay, so I might be a tad bias). In all seriousness, I think you would enjoy American Gods. It's... incredible.

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  18. Fabulous review, I started this book but gave up, I find Neil Gaiman very hit and miss, some of his I love and some I just can't get past the first couple chapters.

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    1. I'm totally addicted to Neil Gaiman's style. I can't think of anything written by him that I haven't loved. But I know exactly what you mean.

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  19. This is my fave ever thing by him. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=plWexCID-kA

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    1. I haven't read it. But I will ;-D

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