The Ocean At The End Of The Lane

All posts tagged The Ocean At The End Of The Lane

The Ocean At The End Of The Lane – Neil Gaiman

Published February 7, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

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.

A groundbreaking work from a master, The Ocean at the End of the Lane is told with a rare understanding of all that makes us human, and shows the power of stories to reveal and shelter us from the darkness inside and out. It is a stirring, terrifying, and elegiac fable as delicate as a butterfly’s wing and as menacing as a knife in the dark.

What did I think?:

I really do not know where to start with this book. Disclaimer: I’ve not read too much Neil Gaiman before, in fact I’ve barely begun on my Gaiman journey but I’m starting to believe after reading The Ocean At The End Of The Lane that he is a true master of his craft. It’s a bit odd, a bit quirky, occasionally quite dream-like and vague but if you can deal with all of that and in fact, you enjoy that in your novels, you are in for a wonderful time if you haven’t read this book yet. I found it quite a surreal reading experience in general, but infinitely worth it and now I definitely see what all the fuss is about with Neil Gaiman. I’m just delighted I have so much of his back catalogue to dip into at my leisure, I don’t think I’ve even gone past the tip of the iceberg of what this man can do with his words.

This story opens with a middle-aged man who is going back to his home town to attend a funeral. He deliberately makes a diversion to his childhood home and more specifically, to a very special place in his childhood. This is to his best friend Lettie Hempstock’s childhood home which she shared with her mother and grandmother. He remembers as he sits in her back garden that she told him she had an ocean back there, then all the memories of that occasionally terrifying part of his childhood comes racing back to him. We learn about his struggles at school being bookish and unpopular, his family’s financial difficulties that forced them to take in lodgers and how he met Lettie. The events that follow are precipitated by a suicide in a car near to his home, then followed by venomous strangers, cruelty, monsters that turn out to be real and a dangerous mission to rid the world and protect themselves from a very unwelcome creature.

I’ve only started dipping my toe into the realm of fantasy quite recently and I’m thoroughly enjoying what I’ve discovered so far, particularly Neil Gaiman who creates these magical worlds with fantastical elements that take you right back to your own childhood. I really remembered what it was like to be a child, how I used to make-believe, how little things like a shadow by a door (which actually turned out to be a dressing gown!) could be so terrifying and the beauty and terrors of an over-active imagination. I loved the strong friendship that the author created between Lettie and our male lead, who remains nameless throughout the novel and I just adored the vivacious, strange Lettie who seems like she has been eleven years old forever, and is the boy’s soulmate at a very terrifying, difficult time in his life. I think although this is probably a more adult read, I really believe older teenagers would enjoy this book too, particularly the child narration which is just perfect. For me, it was a nostalgic, adventure-filled and occasionally eerie story that I devoured in no time at all and had a great time whilst doing it!

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

3-5-stars

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August 2016 – Real Book Month

Published August 6, 2016 by bibliobeth

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Every other month I set myself a little challenge to complete which alternates depending on the month from Chrissi Cupboard Month and Real Book Month to Kindle/NetGalley/Review Copy Month. This August it is the turn for real books, which is one of my favourite months. I have a HUGE backlog of books just itching to be read and its a way of trying to get that pesky TBR and my own book collection down to er…more manageable levels, if at all possible! This August I shall mostly be reading :

The Ocean At The End Of The Lane – Neil Gaiman

The Sweetness At The Bottom Of The Pie – Alan Bradley

I Am The Messenger – Markus Zusak

Annihilation – Jeff VanderMeer

The Moth – Catherine Burns

Tamar: A Novel of Espionage, Passion and Betrayal – Mal Peet

Born Weird – Andrew Kaufman

The Last Banquet – Jonathan Grimwood

1222 – Anne Holt

The Panda Theory – Pascal Garnier

All these books have a bit of a theme through them – they are the books I have (shamefully) still to read from the wonderful reading spa I went to with my sister, Chrissi quite a while ago now. We recently went again to Mr B’s Emporium Of Reading Delights for another spa and it reminded me I really had to finish what we had last time! So now… I will! Looking forward to all of these beauties.

A Visit to Mr B’s Emporium of Reading Delights with Chrissi

Published September 4, 2014 by bibliobeth

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Photo’s of Mr B’s from the website, click on the image to get there!

Ah, you can’t beat a good bookshop. And without a doubt, Mr B’s Emporium of Reading Delights in the centre of Bath, UK is one of the best bookshops I have ever been to. And I’m a bookshop fiend. I was over the moon when my sister found out about the bookshop and took me there as a treat for a “Reading Spa.” More about that later…

Mr B’s Emporium is an independent book shop set over three floors which was founded by Nic and Juliette Bottomley who left their jobs as lawyers to open the bookshop in 2006 (Thanks, guys!). The shop has done so well since it opened that it has twice won independent bookshop of the year in 2008 and 2011 where judges admired their “palpable passion” for books and their “compelling blend of traditional and modern bookselling methods.”

On entering the shop, I wasn’t quite sure where to start! There is so much to admire, look at, and touch for bibliophiles like ourselves that we felt quite overwhelmed. In a happy way, of course! The range of books is incredible and there always seems to be something different around every corner. For example, comic strips across walls, comfy chairs to sit on, free tea and coffee for customers and a fantastic concept where you can rent your own private reading booth, complete with headphones, biscuits and tea/coffee to shut out the world and just get reading! Not only this, but Mr B’s provides reading events with top authors such as Jeff Vandermeer, Sarah Waters and David Mitchell, book groups and ultimate gifts for book lovers like the Reading Spa or Mr B’s Reading Year. The latter involves eleven books being sent out a year (in paperback or hardback) based on a consultation with a biblio-therapist for your reading needs.

Reading Spa Room

Mr B’s Bibliotherapy Room courtesy of website, please click the image for more information on the Reading Spa

So, after being matched with a biblio-therapist (the lovely Emma) whose favourite books include The Time Traveller’s Wife and Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children, Chrissi and I were taken to the beautiful Bibliotherapy Room where we had a cup of tea and a chat to Emma so she could get an idea of what to bring us. These were very basic questions such as: What are you reading at the moment? What was the last book you loved? Who are your favourite authors? Is there any genre you really dislike? (ME: “Chick-lit!” CHRISSI: “Really scary horror!”). Emma scribbled some notes, went away and came back with a towering mountain of books which she told us about one by one. I was really impressed with her bookish knowledge and it was so informal, it was like chatting to a friend. I was also really pleased about her choices, as they weren’t necessarily books that I would have been drawn to, but she sold them so well by the end we wanted the whole pile.

Emma left us in the comfy chairs with more tea and we discussed which of the beauties we just had to take away with us and which ones had to stay behind. It was a tough choice, but in the end we had it cut down to thirteen, and here they are!

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The Ocean At The End Of The Lane – Neil Gaiman

Dreams & Shadows – C. Robert Cargill

The Sweetness At The Bottom Of The Pie – Alan Bradley

I Am The Messenger – Markus Zusak

Annihilation – Jeff VanderMeer

The Name Of The Wind – Patrick Rothfuss

The Moth – Catherine Burns

Tamar: A Novel of Espionage, Passion and Betrayal – Mal Peet

Born Weird – Andrew Kaufman

City of Thieves – David Benioff

The Last Banquet – Jonathan Grimwood

1222 – Anne Holt

The Panda Theory – Pascal Garnier

Quite a nice haul, don’t you think? Please click on each link to get to the book description at GoodReads. Armed with a free bookmark and Mr B’s mug to go along with our pile of books, we headed off, DEFINITELY to return again.

Huge thanks to Emma and all the staff at Mr B’s for making our day such a wonderful experience.