The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
(William Morrow, 2013, 192 pages)
I actually read this book last year and wasn’t wowed by it because it wasn’t at all what I’d expected. Then it was selected as a book club read for a new group I’m part of so I decided to give it another chance and I’m really glad I did. Coming into it with an understanding of what it was supposed to be helped me appreciate the story and Gaiman’s writing on a level I hadn’t before.
I’ll leave you with a summary of the book from Goodreads:
“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 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.”
Feel free to check out my previous review (which also links back to another review of the book by Sadie). Just know that having an understanding of the intention behind the book led to a much more enjoyable and immersive reading experience for me.