The Ocean at the End of the Lane

I had been waiting to read this book for a while, and I am glad I waited as I managed to get the book at a much cheaper price. This was great as it wasn’t a long book and I really would have grudged paying anything more for it. It was good, as Neil Gaiman’s books always are, but I felt this one lacked the ‘oomph’, that others deliver.

It was a lovely read, a fairy story for adults and children, and as always it takes you to another world – I sometimes wonder if this man’s imagination has any bounds – but it felt a little lacking for me. The protagonist is someone that everyone can relate to, we all remember the odd, specific thoughts we had as a child and how fully we inhabit our space, with little regard to others. In some ways it was a wonderful book, made for reminiscing, however, I felt that there was a bit of a disconnect between the character and the plot. The events seemed to be something that were happening to the character, it didn’t really feel as though he had any active part or bearing on it, other than simply being there when it occurred. He just didn’t seem to have any particular traits that pushed the action, in fact, he just reacted how I probably would have to the events! Although, that statement probably says more about me than the book.

What really saved the book for me, and made me give it 4 stars rather than 3 (and I have changed the rating at least 4 times while sitting here writing this), was the ending, where the grown up character comes back from his exploration into his past and reflects on the memory.

I am finding it hard to capture how the ending made me feel, it made me feel older, it made me miss my childhood, it prompted so many memories of my own and reminded me how fallible my memory really is. In the course of the story the point is made that if you take any two people or more, at any one event, none will remember it in exactly the same way. Memories are powered by emotion, and how you felt at the time, rather than the event – some people won’t even remember the event. I guess it just gave me that feeling, that only I know where I have come from and where I am going and all the points in between. I think maybe, the ending, just gave value to my perspective and made the author and character, that little bit more vulnerable and real and that was something I could relate to. Perhaps it was just that sense of loss that I understood and how those moments can never be regained.

tl:dr Story was pretty good, but the ending was what made it for me.(less)

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