Alright, here is the second review for today!
Customary warning: This is a reminder that these are my personal opinions. My thoughts and feelings are not your thoughts and feelings. I may not always be the target audience for a book; sometimes I am. If I do not like a book, that doesn’t mean you’ll dislike it. If I love a book or simply like a book, you may hate it. Take everything I say with this knowledge. If it sounds interesting to you despite what I’ve said, then go ahead and read it. You’ll only know you like something if you read it yourself.
That being said… Spoilers ahead.
The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
Synopsis From The Book
This bewitching and harrowing tale of mystery and survival, and memory and magic, makes the impossible all too real…
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 where she once lived, 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.
A groundbreaking work as delicate as a butterfly’s wing and as menacing as a knife in the dark, 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.
Horror | A – PW |Body Horror, Suicide, Cheating | Childhood vs Adulthood, Truths of the World
Initial Thoughts Before Reading:
I know many Neil Gaiman novels, but I’ve never read any of them. This gets me very excited for book club this month, because it’s an author I’ve intended to read for a very long time. So I know that I will enjoy it, just by how much
Initial Thoughts After Reading:
WOW. I really love this book. I was also horrified. This was such a good book. Such a good book. Wow. I cry. Also so horrified.
Our main character, we’ll call him George after the nickname his father gave him, returns to his home town for a funeral. Whose funeral? We don’t know. He feels like an imposter in his adult clothes and it’s been years since he’s been there. He escapes from the funeral and goes to his onl of child hood home and then all the way down the lane to the Hempstock’s farmhouse. The mother, Old Mrs. Hempstock tell him Lettie is in the back. As he makes his way to her pond. He remembers she used to call it an ocean and he remembers the time when he was 7.
When he was seven. His family was having financial difficulties and they were renting his bedroom to tenants. One of the tenants was an Opal miner from south Africa. He had made it big, came to the UK with all his friends money and his own and then gambled it all away. He killed himself in the back of George’s dad’s Mini. This is how George met Lettie Hempstock, her mother Ginnie Hempstock, and Old Mrs. Hempstock (OMH from here on). They tell him many wonderful things and Lettie shows him a fish that had a coin in its belly. After some time, when George was taking a nap, he dreams of swallowing a coin. He wakes up and vomits one up, to find that his sister also had coins thrown at her. Lettie appears and tells him things are amiss.
Lettie and George go to her home where he hears many things and then travels with Lettie to another place where they confront the “flea” who was causing the havoc. The flea makes George let go of Letties hand, although he promised he wouldn’t. They bind the flea and all seems good. When George returns home, he is brushing his hair when he notices a hole in his foot. He pulls a worm out, accidentally leaving a tiny part inside him, and thinks it over. The next day Ursula appears, the new Nanny that George knows was the worm in his foot, and the flea that they were meant to seal. She traps George and starts an affair with his father, and convinces George’s father almost to drown him in the bathroom tub.
It takes everything he has to flea to Lettie. She saves him and her family helps to take out most of the remnants of the pathway in George’s body. The flea had left a pathway through him, to return to her own home. George’s family comes and they change the story, so that George’s family thinks he was just staying the night. The next day they take on Ursula, and she is eaten by Hunger Birds who then try to attack George for the small remnant hole he has in his heart. Lettie brings the ocean to George to save him.
The birds follow and begin to destroy all that George knows and he runs out to stop them. He is attacked and his heart is eaten. Lettie goes to save him and is hurt and OMH, sends the birds away. Lettie’s family gives her to the ocean and claim she went to Australia. George finds out from his family that Ursula went away, and then George forgets it all.
On the lake bank, George talks to them as an adult and they tell him he comes back relatively often, and Lettie wanted to know if her sacrifice was worth it. He then goes and forgets everything once again.
What I Liked:
The Maiden, the Mother and the Crone; The Hempstocks were such an entertaining group of people that left me with so many questions, more questions than I ever got answers. They were ethereal and weird. They were magical, and awe inspiring. They were the biggest reason for me to keep going, to understand who they are and where they’re from and where they’re going, if I could get to know more about them. They were my biggest love of this book, because I knew nothing.
George; I did like the framing of his story as an adult looking back, and how as a child he was so curious. He was an interesting character that I would have liked to know more about him as an adult. Him as an adult is so mysterious and interesting that I would have liked to know more.
Body Horror; Despite the fact that some things that happened made me get chills, I was okay with this. It was horrible, but it was def needed to make the book more horrifying.
General Plot; I really liked the general simple plot of how childhood makes us understand so many things, that as an adult we do not. As well as how we rationalize the magic of childhood into something that we as adults fully understand. I liked the magic, the mysticism, and the fact that
What I Would Have Liked or Changed:
“Books were safer than other people anyway.” – pg 9
“Monsters come in all shapes and sizes. Some of them are things people are scared of. Some of them are things that look like things people used to be scared of a long time ago. Sometimes monsters are things people should be scared of, but they aren’t.” – pg 112
“Nothing’s ever the same. Be it a second later of a hundred years. It’s always churning and roiling. And people change as much as oceans.” – pg 164