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The Ocean at the End of the Lane: A Novel Hardcover – Deckle Edge

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow; 1st edition (June 18, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062255657
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062255655
  • Product Dimensions: 2.2 x 3.2 x 0.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2,665 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,001 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews Review

An Amazon Best Book of the Month, June 2013: Neil Gaiman's intent was simple: to write a short story. What he ended up with instead was The Ocean at the of the Lane--his first adult novel since Anansi Boys came out in 2005, and a narrative so thoughtful and thrilling that it's as difficult to stop reading as it was for Gaiman to stop writing. Forty years ago, our narrator, who was then a seven-year-old boy, unwittingly discovered a neighboring family’s supernatural secret. What happens next is an imaginative romp through otherwordly adventure that could only come from Gaiman's magical mind. Childhood innocence is tested and transcended as we see what getting between ancient, mystic forces can cost, as well as what can be gained from the power of true friendship. The result is a captivating tale that is equal parts sweet, sad, and spooky. --Robin A. Rothman

From Booklist

*Starred Review* In Gaiman’s first novel for adults since Anansi Boys (2005), the never-named fiftyish narrator is back in his childhood homeland, rural Sussex, England, where he’s just delivered the eulogy at a funeral. With “an hour or so to kill” afterward, he drives about—aimlessly, he thinks—until he’s at the crucible of his consciousness: a farmhouse with a duck pond. There, when he was seven, lived the Hempstocks, a crone, a housewife, and an 11-year-old girl, who said they were grandmother, mother, and daughter. Now, he finds the crone and, eventually, the housewife—the same ones, unchanged—while the girl is still gone, just as she was at the end of the childhood adventure he recalls in a reverie that lasts all afternoon. He remembers how he became the vector for a malign force attempting to invade and waste our world. The three Hempstocks are guardians, from time almost immemorial, situated to block such forces and, should that fail, fight them. Gaiman mines mythological typology—the three-fold goddess, the water of life (the pond, actually an ocean)—and his own childhood milieu to build the cosmology and the theater of a story he tells more gracefully than any he’s told since Stardust (1999). And don’t worry about that “for adults” designation: it’s a matter of tone. This lovely yarn is good for anyone who can read it. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: That this is the popular author’s first book for adults in eight years pretty much sums up why this will be in demand. --Ray Olson

More About the Author

I make things up and write them down. Which takes us from comics (like SANDMAN) to novels (like ANANSI BOYS and AMERICAN GODS) to short stories (some are collected in SMOKE AND MIRRORS) and to occasionally movies (like Dave McKean's MIRRORMASK or the NEVERWHERE TV series, or my own short film A SHORT FILM ABOUT JOHN BOLTON).

In my spare time I read and sleep and eat and try to keep the blog at more or less up to date.

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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See all 2,665 customer reviews
Very interesting entertainment and a well written story.
I just finished it though, and I do have to say that this is one of the few books that I've read that I want to turn it over and start from page one again.
J. Edgar Mihelic
The only negative was the end seemed a little rushed, but that could just be how much I don't want to leave when I reach the end of his books.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

711 of 738 people found the following review helpful By B. Case TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 18, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Right up front I should admit, I'd never heard of Neil Gaiman before I read an enthusiastic newspaper review about this book and decided to preorder it a few days ago. Last night, it was wirelessly delivered to my Kindle and this morning, I picked it up and started reading. Almost instantly, I was so absorbed and lost in the storytelling experience that I didn't do anything else until I finished it a few hours later.

It's a short book; it's enchanting; it's very well written...definitely top-quality fantasy literature. I'm not a fan of fantasy literature, but this book swept me away into such a delightful and fascinating series of incredible adventures--or should I say misadventures--that I could not pull myself away. The author is correct to warn that this is not a fable for children...the reality is far too stark and dark, and there are definitely some adult themes.

"The Ocean at the End of the Lane" is a tale about a lonely bookish seven-year old whose life takes a terrifying turn into a dark and creepy reality. The child is never named, but in recent interviews, the author admits that this child is very much like he was at that age. The child lives in the lovely English countryside of Sussex--the same environment where the author grew up. And like Gaiman, the child is wise, responsible, and moral beyond his years. The parents are blithely confident that nothing bad could happen to their brilliant bookish son in such a bucolic setting. But of course, bad things can, and do happen, especially to the pure and innocent...

The parents have no idea that the Hempstocks--an eleven-year-old girl, her mother, and grandmother--who live by a pond at the end of the lane, are really a group of immortals who play at being human.
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168 of 186 people found the following review helpful By Ethan on June 18, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Over the course of his career, author Neil Gaiman has delighted readers with his storytelling abilities. His almost childlike sensibilities have allowed him to reach audiences through various mediums, spanning from comic books to more traditional children and adult literature. With his latest adult novel, The Ocean at the End of the Lane, he explores a dark story with enough whimsy and emotion to attract readers of all tastes.

The novel begins with a forty something year old man returning to the small English town where he grew up. His old home has long been demolished, but he is drawn instead to a dilapidated farmhouse at the end of the lane. When he arrives there, he begins to reflect on his childhood and the dark events that occurred at the place.

He was only seven years old when it began. A quiet boy, more at home with his nose in a book than playing with other children, he was an outcast within his own family. We learn that the family is struggling with money. They decide to move him from his own room to bunk with his sister, leaving an empty bed to rent out. With the arrival of the renter, a mysterious opal miner, dark events begin to occur.

The boy meets the three generations of Hempstock women who run the farm at the end of the lane. Lettie Hempstock, who claims to have been eleven years old for a very long time, immediately entrances the boy with her enchanting way with words and conviction that the pond that rests at the very end of the lane is actually an ocean. She agrees to allow him to tag along as she takes a trip to an odd place that lies somewhere between this world and the next. Upon their return from the strange place, an evil is released.
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138 of 164 people found the following review helpful By Rachel R on June 25, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
While Neil Gaiman's storytelling is always very beautifully done, I was a mildly disappointed with Ocean at the End of the Lane. I read in the epilogue that the book was originally poised to be a short story--and that shows. It felt exactly like I read a short story. There was very little character development, and I was left wanting more from the story.

It also didn't feel very adult to me. There are a few scenes thrown in that indeed make it adult, but it didn't read that way. Seemed like the adult scenes were somewhat of an afterthought so it could be sold as adult fiction.

If you are expecting one of the epic worlds and tales that Gaiman usually creates, it's not in this book. While I still think it was beautifully written and enjoyed it, I was left a bit disappointed.

I hope this is helpful!
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181 of 224 people found the following review helpful By arpan on June 24, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I will begin this review by admitting that I am a long time fan of fiction written by Gaiman. I started out with American Gods and went back and forth through his bibliography - novels, teleplays and graphic novels - all the stuff.

When I started out reading The Ocean at the End of the Lane I had no idea if it was a mythical story or a regular novel about childhood. I had heard it was an adult novel but still...

I will be upfront about it - the book is good. It entertains you, binds you and even makes you wonder for some time. However, even as I read it, I felt that I had read it all before. In American Gods, in Sandman, in Anansi boys... the idea that mythical creatures exist in the same world as us today, and talk the same tongue as us, and are nonchalant about it - it has been done before and Gaiman has done it better.
The novelty of that concept, of Gods talking to men and women of our day in our lingo, and admitting to stuff like "That stuff is old, it was here before the Sun or the Moon came up in the sky" even as they talk about milking the cows, wears off after a while. Then you think about what the story is, and you find out it - its not that meaty after all. Worse, the author seems to be reveling in the knowledge of the fact that only he knows what is really going on - who the Lempstocks are, who the "fleas" are, and the varmints as well. Hints are dropped and clues left behind, but these - unlike in American Gods - are never resolved. There is perhaps a reason for that. Maybe the protagonist of the novel is too young to be bothered about knowing who are the deities he is interacting with? But do you - as a reader - not care too? The answer to that question would determine how happy/unhappy you would be with this novel, which for all its beauty and moments of joy and wonder - is incomplete.
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