Monday, September 9, 2013

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

About the Book

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 ground-breaking 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 was put at a disadvantage as a kid without a Terry Prachett or Neil Gaiman on my bookshelf. Not to say that my parents begrudged my vicious need to read, but I roamed around with an imagination sewn together by Enid Blyton, Roald Dahl and Beatrix Potter – greats in their own right, no doubt; It wasn’t until I picked up Stardust to prove that the book was by far more superior than the movie, did I realise what I had been missing all this time – and I worked in a bookshop, for goodness sake. My world ceased to exist in reality as books became more survival and less luxury, Gaiman was always on the list – the list of books to save when the house sets on fire, the list of books to buy as gifts, the list of books to collect, the list of books that deserve mention.

So when The Ocean at the End of the Lane landed on my lap as if a sacrifice from the book Gods themselves, I sat back and waited for the dark to seep in around the edges of my imagination and weave its way into my dreams. Pitched as an adult novel, The Ocean at the End of the Lane, is one of those books that I so respect in what publishers call ‘The Cross-Over genre’, made popular by Twilight and The Hunger Games.

Set in England. Our protagonist is escaping a funeral, an escape that leads him (and the reader) down the lane he grew up in. Parking his car he steps into a house that jerks his memory to life; a memory that starts off with a murder, a book-loving hero and, of course, the ocean at the end of the lane.

Gaiman, is a stalwart to the fantasy genre and while I was looking for a darkly-ridden tale more grotesque (because it is an adult novel), was far from disappointed; weaving together a young boy’s imagination (an imagination conditioned by books), a nasty series of events that turns the once timid boy into a hero. There is loss of a friend, the confusion of an affair, and the power of friendship.  

I would almost call this a coming of age tale, and I would be right, but there is just too many glowing aspects to fault Gaiman on the cross-over aspect, in fact, I’d see it as a winning combo. 

As summer begins in the southern hemisphere – grab this copy to read on the outskirts of sunlight, and be amazed at the power of a tale.

About the Author
Neil Gaiman, author, scriptwriter and creator of graphic novels, is British and lives in the USA. His diverse catalogue of books includes the novel The Graveyard Book, winner of the Carnegie Medal 2010 and Booktrust Teenage Prize 2009, Stardust (now a major feature film), the bestselling novel for young readers Coraline (now a major 3D-animated film), and the picture book The Wolves in the Walls, which was shortlisted for the Kate Greenaway Medal.

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Bankruptcy Lawyer Chicago Wipe Out Bills, click here for more said...

Gaiman’s book does a great job of depicting these disparate ways of considering the magical. It is eye-opening. A wonderful read. It is, quite simply, magical!

Highly Recommended.

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