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.
A groundbreaking work from a master, 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. It is a stirring, terrifying, and elegiac fable as delicate as a butterfly’s wing and as menacing as a knife in the dark.
“Adults follow paths. Children explore. Adults are content to walk the same way, hundreds of times, or thousands; perhaps it never occurs to adults to step off the paths, to creep beneath rhododendrons, to find the spaces between fences.”
This book was strange and I’m not too sure that I enjoyed it. I liked it, but didn’t enjoy it. I’m the kind of person who likes anything different, but this was just a little too much. It is the same kind of strangeness that makes up A Wrinkle in Time – a book I didn’t like- though I didn’t mind this one as much.
I enjoyed the writing and the beautiful portrayal of childhood, which is so hard to capture. As a child, I played tons of imagination games and often it was hard to see the line between fantasy and reality. This book makes you a little nostalgic and you question the validity of the strange things you believed in growing up. The story also touches upon the relationship between adults and children. To children, adults live in a whole other world. A world populated by people often ignorant of what goes on or oblivious to things that seem obvious to a child.
I loved Lettie and her family in all their magical strangeness. However, I’m unsure of whether I liked the magic itself or the villain. I couldn’t quite wrap my head around all that happens and it is a bit too out there. I’d have preferred a bit more realism to the magic because it didn’t quite mesh with the tone of the story, or to just have more of it in greater depth.
The ending was perfect. Sad and haunting and hopeful. It leaves you wondering if magic is real and if there are things going on that we either don’t see or remember. I’m not really sure who to recommend this to but I will tell you to be prepared for a strange, nostalgic story.