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
Favorite author: Alexander McCall Smith Favorite narrator: Gerard Doyle Favorite listen : Burton and Swinburne Trilogy
There was a really great line in this book where the children opined what if adults are really just scared children disguised in grown up bodies. (Paraphrased) It was an adult remembering something that had happened in his childhood the way be remembered it as a child. It really brings you back to the way you looked at things as a child. When , in retrospect, the way you understood the events was not reality. I feel like it is a great story that makes you long for the freedom you had as a child but at the same time remember how you were controlled by your dependence on other people, like your parents. Anyway, this story was kind of an adult look back at Nanny McPhee meets Coraline. It was fabulous and certainly worth the credit. Final note about Neil Gaiman narrating it hisself. I personally enjoyed the narration. However, I can see where people would be disappointed. I mean Neil Gaiman has paired a lot of perfect narrators with authors. So maybe there was a better narrator out there.
I'm a corporate training consultant and adjunct professor who loves to read! I'm always looking for the next big thing.
I was so lucky to have stumbled upon this book. I was fortunate enough to read the first part of the book as a preview that was included in another one of Neil Gaiman's books. Once I read that preview, I knew that I would read the entire book when it was published. I am glad that I did--it was great!
This book tells the story of a many who returns to his childhood hometown for a funeral. While there, he recalls a strange memory from his childhood that involved a neighborhood girl and her duck pond, which she always referred to as her ocean. The recollections are--at first--very pleasant; however, they take a frightening turn before too long.
Most of the story is told from the perspective of the young boy--the unnamed boy in the memory. Because of this, the book starts off very nicely. In many ways, I was reminded of my own childhood by some of the memories. This is what drew me into the story. It is not until slightly further along in the story that I realized this book was no longer just a childhood tale.
The boy's neighbors are supernatural beings in some way (which is never made entirely clear). Through a rather unfortunate sequence of events, the boy gets wrapped up in the supernatural occurrences around his neighborhood. That's when things start to get very dark. There is a particular scene in the book involving the boy's babysitter that was so creepy that it actually made me cringe while reading it--and believe it or not, I think that's a good thing!
I haven't read too many other Neil Gaiman books, but I will certain do so now that I read this one. The story was interesting, and the characters are quite memorable. If his other books have these same qualities and can also creep me out just a bit, then I'll be in for many more reads by Neil Gaiman.
The story is compelling and haunting. All childhood fears are there, once that were forgotten and should not have been remembered.
Usually, I am wary to listen to a novel read by the author himself, but this was a lyrical experience. Gaiman not only writes excellently, he also has a good sense of timing and drama when he narrates.
Tangential, eclectic, avid listener... favorite book is the one currently in ear.
narration... a child's worst nightmare mixed with moonlit magic. Same feel as "The Graveyard Book" and "Coraline," which style I much prefer to the vulgarities of Gaiman's "American Gods" and "Anansi Boys." He caught so many emotive memories from my childhood, have to say I loved it. Also need to say it would be a real dark place for a child reader... being held underwater in the tub by an infuriated father, certain of death at his hands is just a start. No kid needs to illustrate these worst fears this vividly in his mind. But once past the vulnerability of childhood, a teen reader will delight in the goose bumps as much as I did.
I walked away from this story thinking- wouldn't it be wonderful to believe in magic, and an ocean that looks like a pond, and to trust so fully in friendship.
I don't pretend to know or understand the full the full depth of this story, but I'm going to keep reading your reviews -such a great story. I ordered the book for my daughter, but I imagine that I'll get to get to it too :)
Avid reader, enthusiastic grandmother, part-time substitute teacher, seamstress.
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.
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.
I read and listen to books. I drink tea. I sleep like a cat and wished I lived in Hawaii.
I have been hesitant to read Neil Gaiman even though he gets rave reviews. Fantasy is not my favorite type of genre or my second favorite or even my third favorite. So, when this book came out and it was short, I knew this was my initiation book into the world of Neil Gaiman. This book is written so beautifully. I was swept away at the writing style and the superb narration. The first half of the book was a 5 star listen, hands down. Gaiman did a great job introducing and building up the characters while laying the foundation of the story. The second half was a 4 star listen, only because this was the more fantastical part of the novel and while I could still appreciate it, it wasn't the first half. I loved this book because even though it was told through the eyes of a 7 year old boy, it still came across as an adult fictional book. This book makes you remember what it was like to be a child, all the safe and fun parts and all the scary parts. As an adult, it made me appreciate all of those experiences, but also made me feel like they were so far away. All the imagination surrounding the Hempstock women, our protagonist's neighbors, is quirky and charming. I also give props to all the quotes on the love of books, the kitty cats and the British slang. This is a book that I would listen to again.
I'm a bibliophile since early childhood. Love speculative fiction, odd premises, mystery novels that teach about different places and times.
Neil Gainman writes odd books. This we know. This might well be the oddest one I've read. I've tried three or four times to describe it to friends and failed. But it absolutely casts a spell over the reader. It's creepy, touching, and very compelling. I think I could say it was about a child's experience with evil. I would not hand it to anyone under the age of 18.
What it has is the child's clarity about what they see, and the honesty to state it. It's a stunning book about evil, good, and the perception of both. And a fascinating statement as to how much of that we can, as adults take in.
He is an astonishing reader as well.
I adore Neil Gaiman. To my mind, he's a master wordsmith and storyteller. He can distill wonder from the seminal & archaic: historical events, dated language, orphaned mythoi, places with memory...you name it.
As a stand-alone book, this one isn't the most engaging, so I wouldn't recommend it to anyone unfamiliar with Gaiman's body of work. Even I admit that he's got far more powerful pieces in his repertoire. For the rest of us who are familiar though, the operative word here is 'nostalgia'. Listen to this for the nostalgia...
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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