Audie Award Finalist, Narration by the Author or Authors, 2014
Audie Award Finalist, Fiction, 2014
Sussex, England: A middle-aged man returns to his childhood home to attend a funeral. 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. He hasn't thought of Lettie in decades, and yet sitting by the pond (a pond that she'd claimed was an ocean), the unremembered past comes flooding back. 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. A stirring, terrifying, and elegiac fable as delicate as a butterfly's wing and as menacing as a knife in the dark.
©2013 Neil Gaiman (P)2013 HarperCollinsPublishers
Mother, knitter, reader, lifelong learner, technical writer, former library assistant & hematologist.
How I wish I was enough of a wordsmith to craft the review that The Ocean at the End of the Lane deserves. I won’t do it a disservice and recount the plot; just do yourself a favor and read it – right now. It’s full of good, evil, power, powerlessness, family, and extraordinary friends.
A small taste: “Nobody actually looks like what they really are on the inside,” Lettie tells the boy. “Grown-ups don’t look like grown-ups on the inside either. Outside, they’re big and thoughtless and they always know what they’re doing. Inside, they look just like they always have. Like they did when they were your age. The truth is, there aren’t any grown-ups. Not one, in the whole wide world … Except for Granny, of course.”
I’ve always thought of audiobooks as equivalent to “real books”; they are just being read to me. Some narrators add to my enjoyment of the story, some detract, and some should not be allowed to read books out loud to anyone. Neil Gaiman is in a class by himself, both as an author and an audiobook narrator. His brilliant narration of his books is just that – brilliant. I was surprised to read this on his blog, “I'm more nervous about the audiobooks than I am about anything else.” No need to be nervous, Neil! When I next encounter a magical being willing to grant me three wishes, one of my wishes is going to be for Neil Gaiman to read me stories as good as The Ocean at the End of the Lane every night.
It's simple really, I am just a guy looking to enjoy the writing and reading talents of others while raising my family the best I can, just Like most everyone else!!!
The ONLY thing that disappoints me with Neil Gaiman's writing is that he does not do enough of it to satisfy me. I was so happy to find that he wrote a new book and couldn't wait to put it in my short stack of must reads. Not only is he a great writter, but he might have the most pleasing voice that I have ever heard read an audiobook. As you can see, I had high hopes for this book and I'm happy to tell you that it didn't take long before I was assured of it's greatness. WOW, was that a great read! There are GREAT characters, a GREAT plot, the story was level-fluid smooth, and the ending is genuinly worth remembering. Here's a person that knows how to escape reality with a worth while tale and he has the skill to share it with others. He does it without dipping into the swearing, sex, and violence pool, that main stream writting usually swims in. What a gift Gaiman has! "The Ocean at the End of the Lane: A Novel" was well worth my time and now has a place in my stack of books that I am saving to one day pass down to my children. That is a special stack to me, and yes, the book is that good.
I love espionage, legal, and detective thrillers but listen to most genres. Very frequent reviews. No plot spoilers! Please excuse my typos!
Neil Gaiman is a tremendously successful and highly celebrated author. Many, many people find his works worthwhile and enchanting. I am not one of them!
I honestly tried to listen to The Ocean at the End of the Lane twice on two separate days and managed to finally get through 100 minutes before giving up. My impression is that the book is too boring and stupid to waste time listening.
I wasn't sure what to expect - this is my first Gaiman novel, but it sounded interesting when I was told about it. I was skeptical about the author narrating his own book - sometimes I think that's just about ego, not the about the best performance, but I was really pleased with the narration in this case. However I found the story was rather sad but still pointless - there was magic in it, but it wasn't magical, there was very little depth to the characters and no real character development, and there seemed no direction or point - not even the point of just enjoying interesting characters as a slice of life. I wanted more depth than this book provided - I feel like I was dropped into the middle third of a trilogy, or something.
I love the beautiful and heartfelt reviews listeners have thus far shared; there is so much revealed in their responses. How could there not be if they experienced this book. I say experienced because if you just listen, if you don't at some point feel something inside of you open and resonate with Gaiman's tale, you missed a dimension of this book-- as much as if you missed the secret hidden 3D pictures in those once popular Stereogram books. (You can find some at www.eyetrick.com to see what I mean. I struggled with those dang things!)
The Ocean at the End of the Lane is about more than just growing up or defining an adult world with a child's mind: it is about the process and mechanisms, the loss of innocence, becoming of this world. Gaiman maps this mystical, but very real dimension--as fearful as it is beautiful; primordially familiar--yet different for each one of us. The landscape is the experiences that as children we felt but did not have the sophistication to understand; the fears, the comforts, the effects we hadn't yet aligned with cause. A world where our favorite color, or feel, or taste might materialize in some form as a landmark or grounding we understood amidst the confusion of an adult world. Gaiman presents a pure and unfiltered portrayal of that world, which he captures brilliantly.
I've read very few of Gaiman's books because I don't usually choose fantasy. Those I've read were good, but still a little like a chocolate lover choosing vanilla. As I began reading this, I thought it more like Coraline, another read suited more for adolescents. It wasn't until the picture really came into focus that something resonated inside, and I stepped into this book. I thought back -- when the babysitter told me I'd stepped on a devil thorn and a blue line would start to climb up my leg, reach my heart, and I'd die...remembered my grandma's swing tied to a horse chestnut tree, and smelled the mint along the her ditch banks... I'm sure each reader filled in their own response, or landscape to this world. It all popped out in front of me; I saw, and felt, the genius in this book. Baudeliare said, "Genius is childhood recalled at will" If that is so, then Gaiman is definitely a genius that shares his brilliance with pen and paper, and reminds us that we were (or maybe are) once geniuses ourselves.
*Having Gaiman present his work is another aspect of magic. His voice lulls you into this world; it saves you when it is dark and threatening, it comforts you when it is frightening, and it holds a hint of a child that speaks to your own inner child. Just Wonderful.
Short, Simple, No Spoilers
Little British boy meets intriguing odd young Hettie and her mother on an old quirky farm. While dabbling in another world, oddities come to life bringing about dire consequences for all around.
Interesting shell of a world, lacks depth and backstory for characters. Gaiman is a wonderfully descriptive writer as with the family home where you can see yourself running down the meadow looking for a hole in the fence and smell and taste the blackberry jam in the porridge. Lacking are the threads to tie together all the fanciful ideas to draw you in. I didn't love the book, but parts were inventive, clever and found the ending rewarding. Having the author narrate is always pleasant as he/she can add expression in all the right places.
As with all of Neil Gaiman's books I enjoy the confined small, but huge feel to the story. I like the sparse few characters which all have an important role to play. I enjoy the slow learning about the roles and that at the end you still want to know more, but are left wanting.
I would compare it to Graveyard Book also by Neil Gaiman. I would make this comparison because it too has the same small, but important story to tell. It too has the same sparse list of characters that you don't get to know everything about. It too leaves you wanting to know more.
Neil Gaiman unlike many other authors narrating brings a feeling to the books future state that he communicates through inflection that you don't get otherwise and would not get through all, but the most skilled of narrators.
I would take old Mrs. Hempstock to dinner. She being the oldest and wisest of the Hempstock women and seeming to be the most open to discuss honestly the early history of the universe.
Rave reviews left me waiting through the entire book to understand what made this a great book. Still waiting... Articulate author but simply could not see the point. Repetitive imagery, disappointing pace.
I love to read books; and now just recently I've discovered that audio books are very cool!! I'm also an author. You can find the SciFi book "The Curse of Europa" here on Audible or on Amazon.
At first I was a little hesitant of listening to an author read his own book. Authors can usually write a great story, but not many can speak a great story (myself included.) But Gaiman made it work! One benefit of the author reading their own story is that they know exactly HOW the dialog was intended to be delivered. They know where they want inflection, where it should be whispered, or exasperated, etc.
I like Science Fiction, good straight-up realistic SciFi! This is not SciFi, it is fantasy. But... I liked it. I liked it a lot. Gaiman tells a great story (both in his writing and in his narration). Half the time I thought the boy in the story was me at that age. I can't think of anything I didn't like about the story and the ending was perfect.
Much more fairytale Coraline/Stardust/Graveyard Book than American Gods/Anansi Boys/Neverwhere, but still a decent novella. Felt like a story from Fragile Things carried to completion. It was neat to hear that there was a lot from his early childhood that was pulled into this story, and it was a surprise to him that the short story grew into this -- for my money, though, I like Gaiman when he's more grit and gristle.
Quite high up!
I'd say it compares to most of what Gaiman writes. If you're a Gaiman fan, you'll most likely enjoy this book. If you're not a Gaiman fan, then I guess you haven't read any of his books... :)
There's something special about authors reading their own books, particularly when they do it as well as Gaiman does.
Yes. I almost did.
Time and time again Neil Gaiman shows what an good writer he is. This is no exception.
"In fear of Neil Gaiman's voice"
I was afraid to hear him read it himself because I already had a voice in my head that I attributed to him and I didn't want to be disappointed and find that my expectations had been too high. I have that fear no more. The story swept me away and his voice was the swell and ebb of the waves. Thank you sir for offering me a safe place of imagination .
Its an incredible story that could only possibly be improved by being narrated by the author himself.
I loved that I had not read anything about it beforehand so everything was a total surprise and such a treat. I loved the lush description of food throughout the story. It really brought you inside the story.
Having this narrated by the author seemed to add a richness to the story.
Yes - no spoilers!
"Neil Gaiman is brilliant"
Neil Gaiman is normally praised for his creative stories, which is deserved, but what I really appreciate is when he narrates them himself. In addition to speaking in his own agreeable voice, he does all manner of Anglophone voices and accents across time and space, which really brings the characters alive. And his timing and phrasing are perfect. I first discovered his narration in the Graveyard Book, which is my favorite of all in terms of narration due to all the different characters represented.
The Hempstock women (Lettie, her mother, and her grandmother) are a trio of great characters. They are comforting and make you recall being safe and protected.
Not easy to say which scene was most enjoyable, but what I like is that the main character / narrator seemed to understand, even as a young boy, the limits of the people around him (particularly his father), and realized that even in disappointment, there may be something positive to be found. I keep thinking of the 7th birthday party his mother threw for him which none of his classmates attended; he didn't mind so much, because he got to keep the party game prizes for himself.
How to know and then forget everything.
"Couldn't put it down"
Great story, well told. Always nice to have the story read by the author too. Listened to this book in one sitting, had to know what was going to happen next. I would highly recommend this book.
"Neil Gaiman does it again"
This book is more in line with The Graveyard Book rather than American God from a Gaiman perspective if you are a fan. It is very well told by Gaiman himself and the story is excellent. His writing is very clever and you won't be let down if you decide to buy/cash in a credit. That said I think that the Graveyard Book is better, but some people may prefer this one for reasons I can't say without giving too much away!
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