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
Neil Gaiman is one of the best storytellers working in fantasy today. Everything he does is rooted in classic myth and folklore, and he follows those traditions, both in the characters he uses and the stories he tells.
That said, after having read many Neil Gaiman books and short stories, there is a certain samey sameness to them, the classic Gaiman archetypes, shuffled into slightly different roles. There's the mostly hapless Everyman who gets his one heroic moment, there's the Evil Thing That Will Eat You that always turns out to be something even older and more evil than its outward shape suggests, and there's the super-powerful witchy wise woman who is likewise some sort of cosmic goddess who just pretends to be a folksy old lady.
In this short novel, our narrator is returning to his childhood home, or rather, where his childhood home once sat, before it was demolished and replaced by modern yuppie housing tracts. But the old farm where he made a friend is still there, and the little pond that his little friend called an ocean, and then we get a flashback to his grand childhood adventure, in which at the age of seven he confronted supernatural creatures from beyond time and space and helped save the world. All of which he has forgotten until now.
In some ways, The Ocean at the End of the Lane reminded me of Stephen King's It, except shorter and PG-rated.
I liked it, but Gaiman isn't really doing anything new here, so 3.5 stars. Gaiman himself is a surprisingly good narrator, which is often not true of authors narrating their own books.
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.
I was captivated by the picture on the cover and the brief blurb I read. Without any other info, I set about listening. Gaiman is a very good writer and an even better narrator - so it was easy to be captivated by the story telling - at least early on. I kept waiting for the story to become more interesting and to take some unexpected twist to keep me interested. It never did. Instead, by the end of the story, I developed a new appreciation for what it meant to write for a young audience and decided that it was no coincidence that the opening of the book was a quote was from Maurice Sendak. So - if you are interested in a contemporary children's story with magic, good, and evil, try this one. If you are looking for a more substantive story and you are not inclined to listen to children's stories, try something else.
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.
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.
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.
I love espionage and detective thrillers but will 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'm not sure what all the excitement was about, perhaps this is not my genre of book. I was quite surprised to be hearing such a fantasy-like novel, I did not get that impression from the description or reviews.
If you're into magic, dragons, and mystical creatures, you'll probably like this book.
I loved this charming fantasy ! I'm not a reader of fantasy, but after this, I am anxious to read more by Neil Gaiman. In addition to writing a great story, he narrated the story perfectly ! A definite thumbs up !
Fan of philisophical fantasy, historic fiction, Victorian gothic, books that make you think!
Definitely! This is, by far, my favorite book by Neil Gaiman. The others I have read by him are often entertaining and the stories are interesting, but they lack a certain depth. Not so with this story. The tale is more introspective than anything else I have read by Gaiman, which is something I'm always left craving more of from his characters, it seems. So often he creates a character with interesting, quirky surface aspect, yet we never know much of their personal thoughts, motives, and emotional impetus. Gaiman weaves a subtle thread of magic throughout this tail which leaves you with questions at the end, but in this case, I believe the loose ends make it all the more memorable. My boyfriend and I listened to it while on a road trip and it enjoyed discussing it afterwards for a good while.
I can only think of The Giver, for some reason. It has that same sort of vaguely unsettling, delicate magic and mystery to it.
If you have been unimpressed with Gaiman in the past, give it a chance!
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.
"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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