The Ocean at the End of the Lane

by - Saturday, August 09, 2014

There is a certain ritual I follow when I read a book. 

First of all, I make some form of ambiance. Nothing can compare to the smell of a vanilla or cinnamon scented candle slowly burning away but when all else fails a simple candle does the trick adequately enough. Then I need a beverage, hot or cold depends on the time of the year, usually coffee if hot and tea if cold (the opposite happens rarely), with the occasional glass of wine here and there. The day when I'll spend hours reading and not get even a little bit hungry hasn't yet come, so snacks within reach are a must. Biscuits, preferably of the dunking kind, are frequent visitors, along with many different sorts of cakes and pastries (Such a sweet tooth!). 

When everything is done, then I'm ready to dive into a sea of stories, characters, settings. In this particular case, I dove into The Ocean at the End of the Lane, by my most beloved author Neil Gaiman.

In the words of Neil himself: 
"The Ocean at the End of the Lane" is a novel of childhood and memory. It's a story of magic, about the power of stories and how we face the darkness inside each of us. It's about fear, and love, and death, and families. But, fundamentally, I hope, at its heart, it's a novel about survival.

In my words:
You know how some authors have that unique style of writing that is existential in its own way, as if he/she are engaging in a conversation with the inner core of your personality/being? Have you ever felt like that or is it just me? Anyway, I don't know how or why, I don't wish to know if I'm honest, but this book did exactly that to me. Made me feel like the person deep inside had found a friend in the main character's persona. That it had lived similar, if not exactly the same, events in his lifetime and survived. And after years it found someone he could share it all, a comrade, a brother.
It's not your conventional book. No. It's supposed to be a novel for adults, but in my eyes it's more about the inner children who adults tend to hide away from the world. It's about their fears and how they shape them in the future. It's about the world seen through their eyes, scary but fascinating, ready to be explored. Even the way it's written, simple, pure, turns it into this fairytale that a child would have narrated in such a way for an adult to possibly understand. Lettie would have approved. I bet she did after she reached the old country.

For those of you who also expect a summary of the story when reading a review, here it goes (quite boring since an adult has written it if you want my humble opinion):

The book starts with the unnamed protagonist returning to his childhood hometown for a funeral. There he revisits the home in which he and his sister grew up and remembers a young girl named Lettie Hempstock, who had claimed that the pond behind her house was an ocean. He stops at the house where Lettie had lived with her mother and grandmother, encounters a member of her family and starts to remember forgotten incidents from the past.

There aren't many things I can say about the book besides that you have to read it. I'll just give you a few more facts before I end this post. Neil started writing it as a gift to his wife, Amanda Palmer. He never intended it to become a full fledged novel but a novella. There are some incidents mentioned in the book that are biographical, like the theft of the father's car. Last but not least, in February 2013 Focus Features acquired the rights to make it into a feature film. Tom Hanks will produce it and Joe Wright will direct. 

You May Also Like