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Posts Tagged ‘The Ocean at the End of the Lane’

Ok, book people, I have a confession. Before this week I’d never read one of Neil Gaiman’s books. I’ve seen Coraline and I’ve bought or checked out from the library his books for young readers for my daughter. As a librarian, I’ve followed his work and sometimes read his blog and noted all the very kind things he says about libraries on his website and just about every time he speaks. But I’d never read one of his books.

And now I have. And I want to go into a cozy room by myself and read all the rest of them over the course of a few days, and do nothing else.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane, I’m told by some die hard fans, isn’t even his best work. But I loved it. I want to still be reading it. I want to be IN it, although I don’t want to be the sister.

This story is about a man who returns to the road he lived on as a child, in rural England, when he’s in town for a funeral. He finds himself visiting the farm at the end of the road (lane) where the Hempstocks lived, a grandmother, mother, and daughter, Lettie, who he knew when he was seven and Lettie was eleven. As he sits “on the dilapidated green bench beside the duck pond” — or ocean, as Lettie called it — he is unsure why he is there. But he remembers.

His remembering is almost a reliving, it’s that vivid. You get the sense when he’s done, he’s worn out as if from a very strong dream. And when you read his remembrances you too get that out-of-time-and-place, almost lost feeling, as if anything could happen. I recognize that feeling. I had it as a child, whenever I was able to read for hours, so totally immersed in a book it was as if I’d entered its world. Which I still love to do when I can.

I won’t give away too many specifics about The Ocean at the End of the Lane except to say the writing is meaty and juicy, so descriptive it drips with sensory details. It’s about a man recalling himself as a little boy and the strange women he met and what happened and what he came to know as a result, but it’s also about human nature, and how what we think we want may not be what we really want, how we’re influenced by forces outside of us to act on impulses we don’t stop to understand. It’s also a book about agape, the kind of unconditional love that sacrifices itself for another.

If you have a few hours this weekend, treat yourself to reading The Ocean at the End of the Lane in one sitting so you can feel like a child again, free to while away an afternoon in a comfortable spot with a book, and if possible, a pet to keep you company. This book, I’d say, is good for sharing with a cat.

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