The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
Headline (paperback), 2014
This is a library book borrowed from The Mitchell Library (http://www.glasgowlife.org.uk/libraries/the-mitchell-library/Pages/home.aspx).
BLURB FROM THE COVER
This is what he remembers, as he sits by the ocean at the end of the lane.
A dead man on the back seat of the car, and warm milk at the farmhouse. An ancient little girl, an old woman who saw the moon being made. A beautiful housekeeper with a monstrous smile. And dark forces woken that we best left undisturbed.
They are memories hard to believe, waiting at the edge of things. The recollections of a man who thought he was lot but is now, perhaps, remembering a time when he was saved.
I wore a black suit and a white shirt, a black tie and black shoes, all polished and shiny: clothes that normally would make me feel uncomfortable, as if I were in a stolen uniform, or pretending to be an adult. Today they gave me comfort of a kind. I was wearing the right clothes for a hard day.
This is only the second Neil Gaiman novel I’ve read. I read American Gods many years ago and remember it blew me away. I’ve also seen the movie version of Coraline. Gaiman is another writer I want to read more of.
I thought The Ocean at the End of the Lane was a great book. I didn’t realise it was going to be part dark fantasy and part fairy-tale so I got a surprise when Gaiman’s book took a weird turn. Gaiman effortlessly blends the real and the fantastic in The Ocean at the End of the Lane. I loved sinister Ursula and her sneaky way of entering our world through the unnamed narrator’s body by turning into a worm and biting his foot. After the first couple of chapters the novel becomes more and more fantastical and more enjoyable. I really enjoyed the sections with the un-named narrator as an adult remembering the wonder and terrible things that happened to him in his childhood starting when a lodger stole his father’s car and committed suicide inside it. The Ocean at the End of the Lane is one of those great novels that show how childhood experiences affect you as an adult. It just happens that the un-named narrator’s childhood experiences were a bit unusual. The Ocean at the End of the Lane is a short novel but much more than the sum of its parts. Gaiman offers something epic with this blend of fantasy and reality, childhood and adulthood, light and dark. I felt I’d been reading an epic novel for several days when I reached the final page. Gaiman sucked me right into the heart of The Ocean at the End of the Lane. I thought the ending was one of the saddest things I’ve ever read.
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