The Ocean At The End of The Lane
By Neil Gaiman
It began for our narrator forty years ago when the family lodger stole their car and committed suicide in it, stirring up ancient powers best left undisturbed. Dark creatures from beyond this world are on the loose, and it will take everything our narrator has just to stay alive: there is primal horror here, and menace unleashed – within his family and from the forces that have gathered to destroy it.
His only defence is three women, on a farm at the end of the lane. The youngest of them claims that her duckpond is an ocean. The oldest can remember the Big Bang.
A man visits his old home whilst at a funeral, he is nameless and doesn’t quite know why he is back at the Hemstead’s house looking out over the pond. Someone used to tell him this wasn’t a pond at all but an ocean, that was Lettie Hemstead his old childhood friend. The novel transports you back to when he was just a 7 year old boy, a nameless character who lived an ordinary life with his parents in the countryside. His only real friends were his books until one day someone steals the family car and commits suicide this is the day he meets Lettie Hemstock and this is the day when things became weird. His world is dramatically turned upside down to a place full of monsters, fears and magic.
The Ocean At The End of the Lane is the first Neil Gaiman book I have ever read. Do I live under a rock you say? No I do not, it is beyond all reason that I have never read one of his novels and after reading this I will be purchasing all of his books. I absolutely adored this novel, Gaimen immerses you into a world of creatures, monsters, magic and adventure and I was hooked from page 1. In just a short 181 pages he crafts the most beautiful and terrifying story that you never want to end.
The story was compelling and addictive it felt like you were reading about a dream and sometimes a nightmare, it was hard to distinguish what was reality, was it imagination was it real? was it just magic? I think these questions I am asking are in my head because Gaiman’s main theme was about childhood. How children see things differently to adults.
“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 the rhododendrons to find spaces between the fences”
Children think outside the box, they have wild imaginations and don’t just stick to the rules or “the same path” As children we see a different world the pond is an ocean no matter what adult tells you, your wrong. Children’s imagination is the key to fun, games, laughter, adventure and fears. This book teaches you to not let that imagination go. Does the “man” really forget about his childhood and the weird creatures, monsters and magic he was up against or did he just grow up and become a “boring” adult only understanding the correct memory, a memory that feels right to his adult brain.
Although a short friendship, the connection between the boy and Lettie was beautiful. I felt sorry for him at the start that he had no friends, he was an “oddball” who liked to read. So when his friendship with Lettie flourished and grew within a few pages that was magical in itself. Again I think back to friendships as a child, you could make friends so easily and be part of each others imaginations and worlds, share your fears and your games. As adults it’s harder to make friendships and bonds that quickly. We are more embarrassed and ashamed of our thoughts, feelings and imagination. I loved that Lettie was so wise she said some really beautiful things like:
“Nobody looks like what they really are on the inside. You don’t. I don’t. People are much more complicated than that. It’s true of everybody”
This book might be a short read but every page is written beautifully, the story is crafted perfectly and I loved how dramatic and dark it was. It really reminded me of a world created by Tim Burton or the story of Coraline. I will definitely be reading more of Gaiman’s work but if his novels are as addictive as this then I just need to find some free time to immerse myself back into a world of fairy tales, magic and creatures. I highly recommend this book to everyone, there’s nothing to dislike!
Have you read this book? What did you think of it? Any other Gaiman recommendations? Let me know I would love to hear from you. Katie x