The Ocean at the End of the Lane

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The Ocean at the End of the Lane Science Fiction & Fantasy

5 out of 5 stars

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Product Description

A Globe & Mail 100 Selection

A major new work from "a writer to make readers rejoice" (Minneapolis Star Tribune)-- a moving story of memory, magic, and survival

Sussex, England. A middle-aged man returns to his childhood home to attend a funeral. Although the house he lived in is long gone, 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, and her mother and grandmother. He hasn't thought of Lettie in decades, and yet as he sits by the pond (a pond that she'd claimed was an ocean) behind the ramshackle old farmhouse, the unremembered past comes flooding back. And it is a past too strange, too frightening, too dangerous to have happened to anyone, let alone a small boy.

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. It is a stirring, terrifying, and elegiac fable as delicate as a butterfly's wing and as menacing as a knife in the dark.

Editorial Reviews

From one of the great masters of modern speculative fiction: Gaiman's first novel for adults since Anansi Boys (2005). An unnamed protagonist and narrator returns to his Sussex roots to attend a funeral. Although his boyhood dwelling no longer stands, at the end of the road lies the Hempstock farm, to which he's drawn without knowing why. Memories begin to flow. The Hempstocks were an odd family, with 11-year-old Lettie's claim that their duck pond was an ocean, her mother's miraculous cooking and her grandmother's reminiscences of the Big Bang; all three seemed much older than their apparent ages. Forty years ago, the family lodger, a South African opal miner, gambled his fortune away, then committed suicide in the Hempstock farmyard. Something dark, deadly and far distant heard his dying lament and swooped closer. As the past becomes the present, Lettie takes the boy's hand and confidently sets off through unearthly landscapes to deal with the menace; but he's only 7 years old, and he makes a mistake. Instead of banishing the predator, he brings it back into the familiar world, where it reappears as his family's new housekeeper, the demonic Ursula Monkton. Terrified, he tries to flee back to the Hempstocks, but Ursula easily keeps him confined as she cruelly manipulates and torments his parents and sister. Despite his determination and well-developed sense of right and wrong, he's also a scared little boy drawn into adventures beyond his understanding, forced into terrible mistakes through innocence. Yet, guided by a female wisdom beyond his ability to comprehend, he may one day find redemption. Poignant and heartbreaking, eloquent and frightening, impeccably rendered, it's a fable that reminds us how our lives are shaped by childhood experiences, what we gain from them and the price we pay. Copyright Kirkus 2013 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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  • Beware the Fleas

    5 out of 5

    Written by , Posted on at 3:09:27 PM

    “The Ocean at the End of the Lane” plays with the idea of recall and oblivion, about those things from our childhood that appear to mark us indelibly and yet somehow fade from our mind as we get older. How can something so profound happen to us, sear us to the soul and yet be utterly forgotten? Is it really important to remember all the details of the little footprints that we leave behind us in our journey towards maturity? Mr. Gaiman’s novel teases us with these questions even as he unravels a spool of memory of its protagonist, a man who relives a horrifying and transformative incident from his childhood, an incident he is constantly remembering and forgetting throughout the years. The language is lyrical, hinting of other worlds and unspeakable monsters, of world-devouring creatures that are more powerful than we and irritatingly smaller than they think they are. It is utterly beautiful and sublime in the rich simplicity of its language. It is one of those novels that tempts you to close your eyes simply in order to imagine the pictures that he is painting with his words and yet makes you read it throughout the night, eager to see how it all ends. You come away from this novel profoundly moved, both to smiles and tears. You desire that the protagonist remember what happened to him, if only to pay tribute to the unforgettable Lettie Hempstock. This novel is a reminder of other Lettie Hempstocks from long ago and makes you wonder what you would say if that person stood before you and called you to accounts.