28 November, 2014

Book Review: The Ocean at the End of the Lane

From Goodreads: 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.

Thoughts: Why has it taken me so long to discover Neil Gaiman? Why did no one grab me by the shoulders, shake me and shout YOU NEED TO READ THIS!! Gaiman has definitely become one of my go to authors. I listened to this, read by Neil Gaiman himself. I love when an author does a talking book, you get to hear it the way they intended.
Gaiman's writing is just beautiful. His storytelling draws you in, takes you back to childhood where you were sure monsters were real, but so were heroes; friendships were forever, even if you ended up living miles apart and adulthood was something a long way away. Each of the characters is real and tangible. Even those characters which aren't central to the story such as the mother are clearly seen and observed without intruding.
This book has the ability to cross age groups - complex enough to engage adults, with a story enthralling enough to capture kids. I plan to listen to this again as we take the long drive south for Christmas - something a little bit different to break up the monotony of the trip. 
Soon, very soon I plan to do a list of books that would make good Christmas presents. This one will make the list. Read it - I know very few people who will regret it.