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.
As my first book by Gaiman (Crazy, I know; no lynching necessary), I was absolutely blown away by the style in which his storytelling is told. In this masterful and brilliant novel, Gaiman weaves the past and present so seamlessly giving the reader a beautiful vision of the main character’s experiences as a child.
While this outstanding novel may feel more like a memoir and less like a work of fiction, it’s the wonderful magic and fantasy that Gaiman is so well-known for that sets this novel above the rest. Being his first adult novel since Anansi Boys, the combination of his award winning writing for both children and adults is quite prevalent.
The Ocean at the End of the Lane beautifully captures the genuine emotion and realism of magic, companionship, and fear that can be forgotten as adulthood takes over with a deep, thoughtful narrative like no other book I’ve read before.
One thing is for sure, I wish I had a friend growing up like Lettie Hempstock. She is one of the most fascinating and brave little girls I’ve had the pleasure of reading about. Her story jumps off the page from the minute she enters the story and continues through the end. This book will challenge you to remember where you came from while showing you that it takes sacrifice sometimes to get to a place where you can be safe.
I want to thank Neil Gaiman for writing this short novel. Though this is my first book by him, I promise you it will not be my last.