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The Ocean at the End of the Lane: A Novel | [Neil Gaiman]

The Ocean at the End of the Lane: A Novel

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. 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. 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.
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Publisher's Summary

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

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  •  
    Melinda UT 06-27-13
    Melinda UT 06-27-13 Member Since 2009

    So hooked by audio that I have to read books aloud. *If my reviews help, please let me know.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Inside of us all, the child that remains"

    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.

    53 of 66 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Bonny Flemington, NJ, United States 06-23-13
    Bonny Flemington, NJ, United States 06-23-13 Member Since 2009

    Mother, knitter, reader, lifelong learner, technical writer, former library assistant & hematologist.

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    "Good, evil, power, powerlessness, family, & more.."

    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.

    79 of 100 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ryan Somerville, MA, United States 08-14-13
    Ryan Somerville, MA, United States 08-14-13 Member Since 2005

    Gen-Xer, software engineer, and lifelong avid reader. Soft spots for sci-fi, fantasy, and history, but I'll read anything good.

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    "The ocean we come from, and return to"

    This short novel will undoubtedly stand as one of Neil Gaiman's more beautifully written, poignant books. The protagonist is a middle-aged man leaving his father’s funeral for a visit to his childhood home, where the memories of his seven year old self still linger. There, he recalls strange, dark adventures -- a friend who seemed much older than her eleven years, travels between worlds, a kindly grandmother who is more than she seems, a babysitter who turns out to be a monster in disguise, and that the kind of monsters who remove monsters can be even more dangerous.

    The dark fairy tale aspects, which won't be a surprise to readers of Gaiman's other books, feel both vividly original and hauntingly familiar, the stuff of universal childhood pretend worlds and nightmares. In this novel, though, it seems, he's intentionally blurring the lines between the fantastical and the real. One could easily read this story as an allegory for childhood imagination and the way it shapes the rest of our lives, even after we outgrow it. If so, I found a lovely sadness in that interpretation. As kids, we are both tormented and protected by things in our inner worlds, which give shape to an adult world that we don't yet understand, until we ourselves are pulled into that world's trials and temptations. Will our adult lives be worthy of our original selves? Will we remember the light of our inner friends, the cruelty and deception of our inner enemies? Will we ever again meet what we left behind?

    I found the gentle, bittersweet way Gaiman reflects on these questions touching. The things we remember from childhood may, in one sense, only be a small, weedy duck pond, but, in another sense, they’re as big as an ocean, our foundational experience of being human.

    And, of course, I can't neglect to mention how good Gaiman's reading of his own audiobook is. His throaty, enunciative voice is, well... him.

    6 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Derek B. A strange midwestern city, United States 07-25-13
    Derek B. A strange midwestern city, United States 07-25-13 Member Since 2007

    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!!!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Gaiman might be the best reader I've ever heard"

    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.

    12 of 15 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Vicki CORPUS CHRISTI, TX, United States 08-07-13
    Vicki CORPUS CHRISTI, TX, United States 08-07-13 Member Since 2007
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    "Enchanting and eerie"

    This is not my usual genre but I loved this book. The story is enchanting in a creepy kind of way. I could not wait to see what happened next.

    The book is read by the author. I must admit, the writer is always my favorite reader. It didn't feel like Neil Gaiman was reading a book, it felt like he was telling me a story. Sometimes I wanted to say "and then what?" It kept me on the edge of my seat.

    Highly recommended.

    15 of 19 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Anna Genoa, IL, United States 12-13-13
    Anna Genoa, IL, United States 12-13-13 Member Since 2008

    I love books.

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    "Another masterful tale by Gaiman!"
    Would you consider the audio edition of The Ocean at the End of the Lane to be better than the print version?

    I think when an author like Neil Gaiman is also a brilliant narrator, it definitely adds to the story to listen to it being told.


    What about Neil Gaiman’s performance did you like?

    Gaiman has a wonderful reading voice, and is a brilliant story-teller. You can feel assured that when he narrates his own story, you are hearing it in exactly the way it is intended.


    Any additional comments?

    This story is engaging and unique. It easily takes the listener into the world of the characters and provides for an entertaining experience.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Compute Alabama 11-05-13
    Compute Alabama 11-05-13 Member Since 2008
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    "Different"

    To say this book is different is definitely true. This was my first Neil Gaiman read and it would have been perfect for Halloween. The story is entertaining, but it takes getting into the story to really decide what it’s about. It’s simply fantasy, yet it does grab your attention and makes the reader wonder what’s going to happen next. And this is what makes it interesting. I couldn’t give it a 4 or 5, but it was a solid 3 for me. Good, but not close to great.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Julie W. Capell Milwaukee, WI USA 10-29-13
    Julie W. Capell Milwaukee, WI USA 10-29-13 Member Since 2007

    notthe1

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    "Fantasy for readers of "certain age""

    I was immediately captivated upon hearing the first few pages of “The Ocean at the End of the Lane” tacked on as a promo at the end of “Shoggoth’s Old Peculiar.” The tale of a man, back in his childhood hometown on the occasion of a funeral, re-discovering something fantastic and magical at the end of the lane made me feel wistful, like I wanted some of my mother’s chocolate chip cookies. So I immediately ordered “The Ocean” and waited for those cookie-scented childhood memories to waft my way.

    The book is for the most part a flashback, as the man of the first chapter recalls an adventure he had—or may not have had—as a young boy. As much as I liked the first chapter, much of the middle section of the book was just too icky for my taste. Intellectually, I understand the purpose of the scary parts but they were a bit graphic for my taste and jarred with other parts that were beautifully whimsical.

    The end of the book did a nice job of bringing everything back full circle, and made several allusions to the author’s own life as an expatriate and (at one time) struggling artist. I got the idea that this book was more autobiographical than others I have read by Gaiman. The long view of life that the novel’s structure allows resonated with me as I believe it will for many other readers of a “certain age.”

    I listened to this as an audio book read by Gaiman. He does a marvelous job here as with other readings I have heard from him.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Byron J. Gross Los Angeles 10-28-13
    Byron J. Gross Los Angeles 10-28-13 Member Since 2010
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    "Boring"
    This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

    Obviously, lots of readers seemed to like this, but this book did nothing for me. After the intriguing first few chapters, it just spun further and further into fantasyland and seemed to go nowhere. The prose was colorful, but put to no purpose.


    Has The Ocean at the End of the Lane turned you off from other books in this genre?

    I am going to think long and hard before diving into a book that deals with fantasy or children's fears.


    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Christie Cummins jacksonville fl United States 09-24-13
    Christie Cummins jacksonville fl United States 09-24-13 Member Since 2012

    looking for a good read

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "there should be room for more than 5 stars"
    If you could sum up The Ocean at the End of the Lane in three words, what would they be?

    I did not want it to end and i want to know if the ocean ever heals the girl


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    the main character. He was believable as a 7 yr old boy


    Have you listened to any of Neil Gaiman’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    no


    If you could rename The Ocean at the End of the Lane, what would you call it?

    No I would leave it as it is as you get it at the end


    Any additional comments?

    this is fabulous fantasy with meanderings of truth. Excellent book

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
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  • Amazon Customer
    Oslo, Norway
    12/2/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Beautiful"
    Where does The Ocean at the End of the Lane rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    Quite high up!


    What other book might you compare The Ocean at the End of the Lane to, and why?

    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... :)


    What does Neil Gaiman bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

    There's something special about authors reading their own books, particularly when they do it as well as Gaiman does.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Yes. I almost did.


    Any additional comments?

    Time and time again Neil Gaiman shows what an good writer he is. This is no exception.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Justin
    Ireland
    8/27/13
    Overall
    Performance
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    "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!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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