The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman review
The Ocean at the End of the Lane
The dedication to his wife “who wanted to know” and the epigraph, a salient quote about childhood from Maurice Sendak, suggest Gaiman’s fantastical novel is at least in part autobiographical. As it opens, the narrator, now middle-aged, has returned to the place where he grew up for a funeral, and a trip down memory lane ensues. But this is no rosy-hued exercise in nostalgia. Gaiman’s endearing child narrator is a lonely boy whose home situation is far from ideal, and who feels alienated at school. He takes refuge in books and befriends the daughter of an unusual family, the Hempstocks. As his home situation deteriorates, he is beset by frightening otherworldly forces bent on destroying not just him, but all that is good. Gaiman’s prose is deceptively simple, a mix of vividly observed everyday reality. The novel is a poignant exploration of painful memories and an intriguing modern fairytale.