The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
Rating: ★★★★//Liked it a lot!
Favorite Line: “I couldn’t get you to the ocean, but there was nothing stopping me bringing the ocean to you.”
This is my second Neil Gaiman book, and like the first, Stardust, I listened to the audiobook narrated by Gaiman himself. Audiobooks are usually hit or miss because of the narrator–it doesn’t matter how good the book is, if the narrator is bad, the book will seem bad to you, and vice versa. Gaiman does a terrific job narrating his books. Not only is he a fantastic writer and storyteller but he has a wonderful skill in performing his work. I highly recommend listening to his books with his narration, I will definitely be listening to more.
The Ocean at the End of the Lane could be described as an adult fairy tale except that it doesn’t start out like a fairy tale; it starts like a normal book, in a normal place (Sussex, England), with a normal theme (man comes home for funeral). Yet unlike a normal book this one slowly transforms into a fairy tale, and the magic is seeps into us slowly, but at the same time it comes as if it were always there.
“Memories were waiting at the edges of things, beckoning to me.”
The main character, who is never actually named, if I’m not mistaken, comes home for a funeral and finds himself escaping the small-talk with old acquaintances and following the lane to an old farm where his old friend Lettie used to live. He doesn’t find her, for she had gone away to Australia some years ago, so he sits by the old pond and thinks back on his old friend. He remembers Lettie quite fondly, and remembers most vividly that she insisted the pond wasn’t a pond at all, but an ocean, her ocean. From there the memories come flooding back to his adventures with his peculiar neighbor and he remembers the magic that happened all those years ago.
“A story only matters, I suspect, to the extent that the people in the story change.”
I really enjoyed this book. I love how simple it begins and how complex it ends. Gaiman does what all fantasy writers long to do: convince the reader it’s all real. The prologue sounds autobiographical and remains so until you start to realize magical things are happening.
The first few chapters were a tab bit slow, but it picked up nicely and once it did the pace stayed fast and invigorating.
“I liked myths. They weren’t adult stories and they weren’t children’s stories. They were better than that. They just were.”
Like I said before this book is a fairy tale for adults, but only slightly, and only really because of one scene. Without that scene this story is one that could be told to anyone of any age and they would be entertained. In one sense it’s kind of sad that the scene is included because it does limit the readership a little, but on the other hand it’s kind of nice because it helps adults read fairy tales without us feeling silly about it (we know we want to anyway).
I recommend this book to really everyone, especially if you want a little magic back in your life!