Friday, 23 January 2015

The Ocean at the End of the Lane

I received this book from my brother for Christmas, and it was the first book I read in 2015! What a great start to the year!

The Ocean at the End of the Lane

I now own two Neil Gaiman books, though I've only read Ocean.


Neil Gaiman



One-sentence summary:

A man returns to a childhood haunt and some long-forgotten memories of supernatural events resurface.


Having never read any Neil Gaiman before (I know, right?), I was going entirely on other people's opinions. So I was pretty sure I would like this book, but a little apprehensive that it wouldn't live up to my expectations. But I'm happy to report that it absolutely did! In fact, it surpassed them.

Right from the start, there was something weird and wonderful about this story. It begins with a middle-aged man heading to a childhood haunt and beginning to relive childhood memories of things that happened there. It's interesting, while reading the story and realising how extraordinary it is, to remember the man's attitude at the start and how fuzzy his memories have become. I felt that, while it was presented in a supernatural and fantastical way, the essence of the man's relationship to his memories is the same as our own. The events that seem so monumental to us in childhood begin to lose their power as they become transformed into distant recollections of the past.

Another facet of this story that I enjoyed was how the narrator - in the flashback to his childhood - relates to the adults around him and how he perceives adulthood. He sees adults as infallible and undefeatable, something which, as adult readers, we know to be untrue, and which his adult self knows to be untrue as well. 

The majority of the story is completely fantastical, and it's obvious that Gaiman really let his imagination run wild to concoct all the bizarre creatures and scenarios. But, for me, it is the human interactions that really make this book. The narrator's friendship with Lettie Hempstock (in contrast to the one he has with his sister), is really endearing, while the powerlessness he feels in the face of the adult world is much more threatening than any supernatural monster.

Final thoughts:

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, partly because it is so imaginative and fantastical, and partly because of its human dimension. I know this is a lot of people's favourite Gaiman, so I'll be interested to see how it compares to his other works.

What did you think of The Ocean at the End of the Lane? Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments!

Update: Check out this brilliant review by Girl with Her Head in a Book - she just captures the book so perfectly! :)


  1. I loved this - I reviewed it last year - it is such a stunning combination of fairytale/coming-of-age - definitely Neil Gaiman's best book yet! I really liked your review, I agree with the link you made about memories. Oh ... I just want to re-read it again now! :)

    1. Oh brill, I'll go and check out your review now! I loved it too :D And it's so quick - I whizzed through it in a few hours. It's interesting on a deeper level but also just as magical if you take it at face value. Definitely a future re-read for me too! :)

  2. This is the only Neil Gaiman book I've read too - though I own others - which is crazy really since I loved it so much. Utterly magical and completely open to interpretation which made it the perfect book club book. So glad your reading year got off to a good start! May it continue!

    1. It's so wonderful isn't it!? I'm really keen to read Neverwhere next, which is my friend's favourite Neil Gaiman (and one of her favourite books in general!). But I've heard a lot of people say Ocean is his best, which in a way is a bit disappointing because then where do we go from here?

      Thanks very much, same to you! Thanks for stopping by :)


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