The Ocean at the End of the Lane
Sussex, England. 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.
A groundbreaking work from a master, The Ocean at the End of the Lane is told with a rare understanding of all that makes us human, and shows the power of stories to reveal and shelter us from the darkness inside and out. It is a stirring, terrifying, and elegiac fable as delicate as a butterfly’s wing and as menacing as a knife in the dark.
Let me just start of by saying that this was the first book by Neil Gaiman that I’ve ever read, after hearing a lot of praise for this author. And I have to say that I was a bit apprehensive at first, because reading this book might just have lead to a giant letdown. Thank the stars that it didn’t! I really truly enjoyed this book and it has me completely convinced about Neil Gaiman’s prowess as an author. I will definitely make work of reading his other books.
The story of the Ocean at the End of the Lane is a great one, because it speaks to the imagination in an entirely new way for me. I haven’t read much adult fiction before that had a magical spin to it, and now that I have I don’t know how I’ve lived this long without it.
Neil Gaiman is great at writing enticing prose because I just wanted to keep reading this book until I finished it in one fell swoop (and I did). Even though I had no clue what this book was about before I started reading it, I was immediately intrigued by the story.
One of the things I enjoyed most about this book was the perspective from which it was being told. Reading an adult book written from the perspective of a child is very interesting. Another lovely thing about this book is the characters in it, each with their own gems of wisdom in the book. There were just so many quotable things in this book, not just for their beauty but also for their wisdom.
I loved that this book was just shy of 200 pages because that was just how many pages it took to tell this story. It never felt awkwardly stretched or squeezed to a certain amount of pages.
“Adults follow paths. Children explore. Adults are content to walk the same way, hundreds of times, or thousands; perhaps it never occurs to adults to step off the paths, to creep beneath rhododendrons, to find the spaces between fences. I was a child, which meant that I knew a dozen different ways of getting out of our property and into the lane, ways that would not involve walking down our drive.”
― Neil Gaiman, The Ocean at the End of the Lane