Book Reviews

The Ocean at the End of the Lane – A Review


The Ocean at the End of the Lane

Returning to his childhood home, a man is drawn to the old farm where he met the strangest girl, who claimed her pond was the ocean at the end of the lane.

The reader is dropped into the novel looking over the shoulder of a middle-aged man leaving a funeral, driving aimlessly down once old country lanes, now tidy and tarmac-ed. He continues down the road until it drops off back into the old country roads he remembered. At the end of the lane, a warm fuzzy feeling washes over him, there still stood the home of a childhood friend. 

Memories are a funny thing. Looking back we cast a warm fuzzy hue over things that might not have been so pleasant. The Hempstock women were a trio living on the farm at the end of the lane. Lettie, her mother, and her mother’s mother, Old Mrs Hempstock. Seemingly frozen in time, the Hempstock farm is a relief for the narrator, soon, the home of a friend.

His new friend soon reveals some mysterious traits. She can sense things far away, implant thoughts, and her grandmother can talk to “wigglers” in his mouth to tell them to leave his teeth alone. While on an adventure with Lettie, they face a furious something and it follows the narrator home and causes all sorts of trouble.

It’s up to Lettie and the nameless narrator to fix their mistakes, and Lettie’s ocean reveals itself to be so much more.

The Hempstock women are an odd bunch. But they are warm, welcoming, and kind.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman is another nod to his great world-making. Mystical without being mythological, it still tells a story of friendship and heartache. Pick it up, read it. Mull it over in your mind here and there. Come back to it, and read it again. You get so much out of it the second time. You’re invested in the story, and are able to pick up the tiniest of details. The narration style is a bit off putting (it drove me nuts the narrator is never given a name) but it is a typical British style childhood book (inattentive parents, a rude nanny, etc).  At 178 pages, it’s a lovely afternoon read, and I suggest it for a lazy rainy day.

“And the memories fade and blend and smudge together…”

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Author: Neil Gaiman

Publisher: William Morrow for Harper Collins

Publish Date: 2013

Page Count: 178

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