Matt’s Reviews: The Ocean At The End Of The Lane by Neil Gaiman

Book Cover: The Ocean At The End Of The Lane by Neil Gaiman

 

  • Publisher:        HarperAudio
  • Release Date: June 2013
  • Format:          Audio CD
  • Disks:              5
  • ISBN:              006226303X
  • ISBN13:          9780062263032
  • Author:          Neil Gaiman
  • Read by:       Neil Gaiman

 

The Ocean At The End Of The Lane by Neil Gaiman is one of my favorite books of all time.  It is a near perfect book, balancing the reality of childhood and aging with the fantasy of a magical world next door. Though a fantastical tale, it is a truer tale of life and childhood and aging and remembering and forgetting and being than anything else I can remember reading. This is at least the sixth time I have either read or listened to this story, and I am fairly certain it will not be the last time.  I especially love the audio version of this book read by the author.  Much of the geography of the story is based on his childhood home and you feel the presence of the place in the story.

I hesitate to say much of anything about the story itself.   It deserves to be fully experienced working your through the worlds it creates and exposes.  I wish I could do justice to just how wonderful this book is.  It connects me with my childhood.  It connects me with my aging self.  It connects my aging self to my childhood.  It feels so real and so different.  

After returning to his home town and attending a funeral, the author drives randomly and finds himself down at the end of the lane from his old childhood home. The Hempstock Farm there has changed not at all since his childhood and he begins to remember Lettie Hempstock and her mother and Gram and the time they had to deal with a being from nearby who came into this world accidentally at the behest of a dead opal miner.  The boy and the little 11 year old girl (yes, but how long have you been eleven?) work together to deal with Ursula Muncton who comes to live with his family.  An exciting, frightening, fantastic, beautiful tale of an amazing world just down the lane from home, and sometimes within the home itself.

This book inspired so many feelings within me as I read.  I was the child shimmying down the rain pipe in the rain.  I was the middle-aged man wondering about where is his life had gone.  I was the dad who ‘loved’ burnt toast.   I knew the annoying little sister and the friends who weren’t there and the books and the music that were.   The lives in this book were nothing like my own, but I got to live in them and they often coincided with my being.   Little descriptions and little thoughts, almost throw-aways to the overall story regularly planted themselves in my head and my heart. 

I love this book.  I love this story.  You should read it, or better yet, listen to it.  Neil Gaiman does an amazing job at telling his story in the audio book. 

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And if you like science fiction and fantasy, check out my book.  Plastivore.  Click here for a free preview of the first few chapters. It’s not as good as this one, but it is free if you have Kindle Unlimited.

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