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Friday, July 5, 2013

Review: The Ocean at the End of the Lane

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , ,
The Ocean at the End of the Lane
by Neil Gaiman

Plot Summary:

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.

Review:

The Ocean at the End of the Lane is a slim volume, but it packs so much within it's pages!  Neil Gaiman weaves a magical story, delicate as memory with so many layers and unspoken emotions beneath its words, that it is a book that will continue to reveal new things on every reread.  While reading this book, I found the atmosphere created to be totally enthralling and rich, even with the deceptively simple prose style that I've come to associate with Neil's work.  The way he wields words is wondrous to me, because the words in themselves are ordinary, but somehow when he puts them together they become so much more.  I always feel like there is a need to savor his stories because of the unique way in which he tells them, and this book is probably the most richly multi-faceted one of his that I have read.

The story begins with the awakening of memory and layers a story of a potentially normal childhood with one of fantasy disguised as myth, moving from the mundane - made somehow especially so when seen through the sincere and candid eyes of a young boy - to things that are timeless and both dangerous and comforting at turns.  I think it is difficult to tell you what this story is truly about, mostly because it has so much depth that it can have many different meanings.  I found the story entrancing and magical and completely beautiful in a touching and melancholic way.  There is also the need once you have finished it to immediately reread it, because there are things that are said in the beginning that are given new meaning by the end and it changes the story significantly.

This is a lovely book from a master storyteller, with a glorious mixture of mystery and emotion and magic.  If you are a fan of Neil Gaiman, don't miss this book!

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8 comments:

  1. Charlene, Neil Gaiman is an AMAZING story-teller
    I am currently reading his book, Stardust and it's amazing, though a bit long
    I had also read his book, Coraline, which was so cute and lovely
    GREAT review
    Your reader,
    Soma
    http://insomnia-of-books.blogspot.com/

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    1. I have yet to read Stardust which is silly of me since I liked the movie! Coraline is such a great book though, I feel like "Ocean" has some similarities to it with the creepy vibe. Thank you for stopping by Soma!

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  2. Just bought this one!! I always immediately buy Gaiman books because I've loved pretty much everything he's ever written. I'm really glad to see that you enjoyed it, that probably means I'll love it too~ He is definitely a master storyteller. Eek, I'm so excited to start this one!

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    1. Oh yay, I'm looking forward to your review! I know, Neil basically never disappoints, so I'm sure you'll enjoy it. :)

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  3. I really want to read more by Gaiman!! I've read a couple of his Sandman graphic novels (love them - want to read the whole series) but not a narrative novel. Many are on my wish list though. Glad you loved this and found it worthy to re-read!

    -Lauren

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    1. I hear so much about Sandman and haven't read it yet, I need to check it out! I hope you get to read this one soon, I think it is a good start for a first Gaiman narrative novel to read. Thanks for commenting Lauren!

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  4. I'm so glad to hear that the latest Gaiman book is as good as I thought it'd be! I've been wanting to read it for a while, but haven't bought it yet. I'm in line to check it out in the library, but there are a lot of other people that also want it.

    It sounds like a really lovely story.

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    1. Oh library lines, they can be so frustrating - they should have a way to tell who are fast readers and give the book to them first. :) I hope you get the book soon and I look forward to your review!

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