Published: June 18, 2013Publisher: William MorrowPages: 181Sussex, 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.
From the minute I opened my parcel, I loved this cover. You need to see it in person, because the colours are just beautiful and it has the prettiest pearly sheen to it. After you read the entire book, the cover makes perfect sense. It's filled with magic and wonder, but also a melancholy feeling and sacrifice.
During the novel I felt like I was on a journey along with the narrator, a journey of memories. It's funny how a memory that two people share can differ due to perception of the events, but it's interesting to note that sometimes your own memory of an event can change over time. This book shows us just that.
“Different people remember things differently, and you'll not get any two people to remember anything the same, whether they were there or not.”
The narrator has returned home for a funeral, but finds that he is pulled towards his childhood home and then towards the pond on the Hempstock's farm. He doesn't know why at first, yet the closer her gets to the pond the more he remembers. The pond is not a pond, but Lettie Hempstock's ocean... and so the memories come flooding back.
Jumping back into that time of the narrator's life is magical all in it's own - you have alternate worlds, magic kittens and some scary monsters. You see it all from the eyes of a young boy. It's amazing how he believes and trusts so surely in what his friend Lettie does to help him. He doesn't second guess the weirdness of situations, nor the things that his new friend and her family ask of him. It makes you long for your childhood where things were ordinary, yet magical in their own way.
I found that there seemed to be a lot of myth and fable woven into the story, but couldn't put my finger on enough to know where any specifically came from. I think this is the best way to weave it though, so you feel the effect of it, but can't compare it to previously written stories. It makes it feel like you are reading a fable for the very first time. Lettie, her mother and grandmother all seem to be either witches or fae to me. They talk about being around for a very long time, but never indicate their true ages. And they seem to practice a sort of magic.
Lettie is my favourite character in this book - she is strong willed, sassy and matter-of-fact. She protects the narrator with fierceness and helps to keep him safe from the monsters. Though she is portrayed as an 11 year old girl, she is much older than that, yet still learning so much as her family seems to be older than time itself. She shows us the true meaning of sacrifice in the end.
Overall, it was fantastic read and a book that I know I will enjoy with every re-read that comes along. I think it is a book that will make you think about your childhood, but also about how your life changes whether you want it to or not.
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About the Author:
Neil Gaiman was born in Hampshire, UK, and now lives in the United States near Minneapolis. As a childe he discovered his love of books, reading, and stores, devouring the works of C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, James Branch Cabell, Edgar Allen Poe, Michael Moorcock, Ursula K. LeGuin, Gene Wolfe, and G.K. Chesterton.