“Adults are content to walk the same way, hundreds of times, or thousands; perhaps it never occurs to adults to step off the paths, to creep beneath rhododendrons, to find the spaces between fences.” – Neil Gaiman
Neil Gaiman’s latest literary sensation, The Ocean at the End of the Lane, brings his readers to Sussex, England for a tale in which the line between non-fiction and make-believe is curiously blurred.
The story begins by following an unnamed middle-aged man back to his hometown while he is on his way to a funeral. The man becomes sidetracked by the old lane he used to live on and spends the rest of the day (and the rest of the book) reminiscing about his childhood adventures with his long-lost friend, Lettie, and a small lake she adamantly named her “ocean.”
In this short novel, Gaiman captures the pure naivety of childhood and intermingles it with a timeless wisdom, compelling his readers to examine their own youthful pasts. Most importantly, he encourages his readers to remember, if only for a short moment, those distant times when anything could happen and magic was real.
The Ocean at the End of the Lane is the kind of tale that starts quietly and ends climactically, only allowing several conciliatory before the book’s end. Alas, my only reservation is how quickly the story ended!
However, between the lull and apex of the story, Gaiman riddles the novel with thoughtful anecdotes and haunting nostalgia that will awaken a long-lost part of yourself, thought only to exist in the past.
I highly recommend this novel to anyone from young fantasy fanatics to older non-fiction buffs. Within those 180-some pages, there is enough insight and adventure for any reader and any age.