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Imagination Meets Memory   Leave a comment

Ocean End of Lane

Part Harry Potter, part Alice’s Adventures  in Wonderland, The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman compels the reader’s imagination to relinquish, among other things, fear of the unknown. It’s worth the little effort needed to suspend belief, but Gaiman makes it very easy through his sensitive story telling that mixes memories, nightmares, and hope into one gripping tale.

The story begins as the narrator returns to his hometown for a funeral. He recalls how 40+ years earlier as a shy, reclusive seven-year-old he is befriended by Lettie Hempstock, who lives with her mother and grandmother. The boy has no friends, but Lettie, who is four years his senior, draws him out of himself. It’s Lettie who believes the pond on her family farm is an ocean.

At the same time, a nanny, Ursula Monkton, arrives in the boy’s home. It will come as no surprise that Ursula isn’t what she appears to be. In fact, she appears as many things. Lettie becomes a protector who in the process of caring for her young charge takes on numerous risks – dangers the young boy would never face on his own, but who willingly approaches them with Lettie.

Gaiman blends magic, mystery and the passage of time into a single cauldron where dreams, recollections and reality are hard to distinguish. The now-grown man finds himself at the Hempstock farm with whom he initially believes is Lettie’s mother since it’s unlikely, in his mind, that Grannie Hempstock is still alive. Yet.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane
Four Bookmarks
William Morrow, 2013
181 pages

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