Skip to content

Book Review: The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

September 15, 2013

The Ocean at the End of the Lane

First Line: It was only a duck pond, out at the back of the farm.

The Short Version: *indeterminate screaming* I love this book.

BOTBS (Back of the Book 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.

My Thoughts: My journey to this book was a strange one.  I had read exactly one Neil Gaiman book before this one (The Graveyard Book), and I hadn’t liked it. I hadn’t hated it, but it just wasn’t a fantastic book for me. I (stupidly) assumed that a might not enjoy other Neil Gaiman books, and moved on.

Then people I followed on Twitter kept retweeting things from Neil Gaiman, who has an active, informative, and hilarious Twitter account. So I followed him. I started seeing tweets about his new book that had come out, and mentally wished it well but had no interest in reading it.

Until one day, when he tweeted a link to a review of the book written by his wife, Amanda Palmer. I was then introduced to the idea that I might like some of his books more than others. I also really resonated with her discussion of a life with two creative people (my husband is a musician, I write) and I knew from reading her review that I was destined to love this book.

And I did. From the very first page. In fact, I actually purposely tried to read this book very slowly (something I almost never do) in order to make it last as long as possible.  I think this is the kind of book that can be many different things for different people, but for me, it explored death, loss, childhood, and memory, and it somehow managed to be intensely personal and intensely universal all at once. Usually while reading a book, there will be a sentence or word every so often that jars be out of the book while I ponder the mechanics of it, or how the word wasn’t quite the perfect one. It never happened while reading this. Neil Gaiman is an epic master at crafting sentences that look quiet and ordinary, and then punch you in the gut when you’re not expecting it. This book catapulted to the top of my all-time favorites list, and will forever be mentioned when people as me what my favorite book is.

Who Would Like It: People who are fans of Neil Gaiman (although his works differ widely). Readers who enjoy magical realism, books about the magic of childhood, and those who enjoy lyrical and beautiful writing. Although it is being marketed as an adult book, I have had high school students read and enjoy it.

No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: