The Ocean at the End of the Lane
author : neil gaiman
pages : [hardcover] 181
memorable quote : I lived in books more than I lived anywhere else.
favorite character : lettie
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.
I’ve read a few of Neil Gaiman’s books before and while I think that the writing was wonderful I hadn’t found a novel to love yet. I found that in The Ocean at the End of the Lane. I finished the book and was surprised by how it’d made me feel; it’s definitely unlike the type of book that I usually thoroughly enjoy. Maybe that’s why I was so wrapped up in this very short novel. It’s a fantastical story about a little boy, framed by his older self reflecting on memories long forgotten. I don’t know how to describe how content I felt with the conclusion of the novel because it was the perfect little story.
I didn’t bother to learn much about this book before I picked it up. Often if I’ve already heard good things about the book or like the author then I like to pick up books without reading the summaries. There are some summaries out there today that give out too much about the book (or that start off a series and half of that summary doesn’t even take place in book one). I was really surprised by all of the turns that this book made, bringing me from something like the real world to a fantastical, terrifying one.
Lettie was my favorite character in this book. She’s a little girl . . . or is she? I loved her determination and how she didn’t talk down to the boy (and it took me a while to realize the narrator was nameless). She’s got spunk and doesn’t think that any one person isn’t important enough to make sacrifices for, even if a human life doesn’t last so long or maybe have the potential to shine as bright.
I think that this would be a great book to read if you’re trying to transition from reading young adult novels to adult fiction and fantasy. Much of this story takes place when characters are very young, though the writing is very adult and complex. I absolutely adored it.
Even though I enjoyed reading the book, I didn’t realize that I loved it until I reached the conclusion. I’d recommend this book to anyone-it’s short and leaves you happy.