The Ocean at the End of the Lane

The Ocean at the End of the Lane

Downloadable Audiobook - 2013
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Sussex, England. A middle-aged man returns to his childhood home to attend a funeral. 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. He hasn't thought of Lettie in decades, and yet sitting by the pond (a pond that she'd claimed was an ocean), the unremembered past comes flooding back. 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. A stirring, terrifying, and elegiac fable as delicate as a butterfly's wing and as menacing as a knife in the dark.
Publisher: [United States] : Harper Collins Publishers : Made available through hoopla, 2013.
Edition: Unabridged.
ISBN: 9780062255686
Branch Call Number: eAudiobook hoopla
Characteristics: 1 online resource (1 audio file (5hr., 48 min.)) : digital.
Additional Contributors: hoopla digital


From Library Staff

We will be discussing this at the December 16, 2018 meeting

Discussion: February 26, 2019

Discussion: June 12, 2019

TSCPL_Miranda Aug 28, 2016

Gaiman is a modern day fairy tale master. His greatest strength is in weaving elements of classic stories into new, wholly original tales that have the feel of lore. In Ocean, we meet an unhappy boy who finds most of his joy in books. When he meets the magical women at the end of the lane, his gl... Read More »

KATIE ESCHER May 16, 2016

I LOVED this book. As soon as I finished it, I wished I could go back and read it again for the first time.

From the critics

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Jul 06, 2019

I don't remember the last time I read an entire book the same day. Could not put this book down. It took be over 2 years to start it. Now I wonder why I waited so long. So many unanswered questions.

Jul 03, 2019

A short and intense fantasy novel. Good introduction to Neil Gaiman!

Jun 19, 2019


ReadingAdviser_Sally May 28, 2019

I'm a little late to the game but I really loved this story! It has been on my radar for a long time as a staff favourite but it really blew me away. It's dark, compelling, unsettling and very satisfying. Narrated by Neil Gaiman himself! Definitely give this novel a go.

JCLBeckyC May 28, 2019

This adult novel is a good entry point into the world of Neil Gaiman for those of us who got tricked into thinking magic and fantasy and fairy tales are just for kids. I highly recommend listening to the audiobook, read by the author himself, which is warm, rich, and soothing in the scary places. I want to take a nap cuddled up in Neil Gaiman's voice.

May 17, 2019

It's like the Goonies, but with demon-things, I love this book soooo much!!!

Apr 25, 2019

Magical! Mysterious! Child and Adult back and forth in time!

CatherineG_1 Apr 04, 2019

I am not one who usually reads fantasy or fable like stories but a coworker raved about this one. Love Gaiman and I heard this was somewhat autobiographical.


IndyPL_SteveB Mar 14, 2019

Gaiman is able to write his dreams in such detail that they seem like YOUR dreams – more than that – like they *always* were your dreams. *The Ocean at the End of the Lane* is a short intense fantasy novel, with a great sense of reality and dreams and of the blurred place in between them.

The unnamed narrator has traveled to England for a funeral. After the funeral he drives to where his childhood home used to be and finds himself wandering down a lane that he vaguely remembers. As he approaches the house at the end of the lane, memories of his childhood come back to him and he remembers the three impossible Hempstock women who lived there when he was seven years old and the world almost ended.

I think Gaiman remembers his childhood, as many great writers do, and remembers the way the world appeared to be magical and terrifying and indecipherable and liable to collapse if you didn’t do all the right things. He certainly makes you feel it here. That’s what fairy tales and folk literature have always done, of course – showing us the truth in life by weaving it into a fiction.

Jan 12, 2019

I loved it as I have all of his books very engaging tale with the supernatural.

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ReadingAdviser_Sally May 25, 2019

Books were safer than other people anyway.

ReadingAdviser_Sally May 25, 2019

Grown-ups don't look like grown-ups on the inside either. Outside, they're big and thoughtless and they always know what they're doing. Inside, they look just like they always have. Like they did when they were your age. Truth is, there aren't any grown-ups. Not one, in the whole wide world.

ReadingAdviser_Sally May 25, 2019

I lived in books more than I lived anywhere else.

ArapahoeMaryA Jan 28, 2017

Nobody looks like what they really are on the inside. You don’t. I don’t. People are much more complicated than that. It’s true of everybody.

I do not miss childhood, but I miss the way I took pleasure in small things, even as greater things crumbled. I could not control the world I was in, could not walk away from things or people or moments that hurt, but I took joy in the things that made me happy.

Jun 13, 2015

"You don't pass or fail at being a person, dear." -- Ginnie Hempstock

roropan Jun 18, 2014

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.

JCLChrisK Sep 23, 2013

I liked myths. They weren't adult stories and they weren't children's stories. They were better than that. They just were.

JCLChrisK Sep 21, 2013

I lived in books more than I lived anywhere else.

JCLChrisK Sep 21, 2013

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.

JCLChrisK Sep 21, 2013

Nobody actually looks like what they really are on the inside. You don't. I don't. People are much more complicated than that. It's true of everybody.

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Add Age Suitability
IndyPL_JosephL Dec 20, 2018

IndyPL_JosephL thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over

Aug 05, 2018

Mya614 thinks this title is suitable for 15 years and over

Feb 01, 2017

bcornelius thinks this title is suitable for 10 years and over

ArapahoeRich Aug 04, 2016

ArapahoeRich thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over

Jul 24, 2015

michelle_raddie thinks this title is suitable for 14 years and over

Jun 13, 2015

DouglasLinn thinks this title is suitable for All Ages

Jan 30, 2015

newanto thinks this title is suitable for 10 years and over

roropan Jun 18, 2014

roropan thinks this title is suitable for 14 years and over

carterasm1 Jan 08, 2014

carterasm1 thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over

Jul 07, 2013

pagetraveler thinks this title is suitable for between the ages of 12 and 99

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Add a Summary
Jun 13, 2015

An unnamed protagonist returns to his childhood home upon his fathers funeral and recounts a fantastic tale of imagination and magic about the Hempstock's farm. The Hempstocks were his neighbors growing up and he befriended the 11 year old Lettie. It turns out the Hempstocks are much more than neighbors.

mvkramer Oct 21, 2013

A man returns to his childhood home for a funeral, and suddenly finds himself remembering the strange events of his childhood -- when he was seven, and met Lettie Hempstock. That year, an unfortunate man killed himself on Lettie's property, and unwittingly released something ancient and malevolent upon the village. When the eldritch entity threatens our narrator's family, Lettie promises to keep him safe. But at what cost?

AnneDromeda Aug 02, 2013

Neil Gaiman’s *The Ocean at the End of the Lane* is a fairy tale for adults in the best possible sense. It’s incredibly lightweight – at only 178 pages, Gaiman has stripped down his prose and left a spare, stunning myth that can be read in one stop on the beach blanket. Indeed, you may find you need the sunbeams – if this dark, bewitching tale doesn’t send a shiver down your spine, you likely have no pulse.

The book opens with an unnamed man returning to his childhood home after the death of a family member. In his grief, he’s drawn to the farm of a childhood friend named Lettie Hempstock. He winds up seated next to a pond they called the ocean, lost in childhood memories.

He had been a shy, quiet child who loved to read and had few friends. Soon after he turned seven, a boarder living in the narrator’s home took his own life. After discovering the body, the narrator is comforted by the Hempstocks, a family of remarkable women who live at the end of his lane.

Gaiman has created something special with the Hempstocks. Though they’re plainly supernatural, Gaiman makes no effort to explain what they are beyond imbuing them with spiritual elements from the Maiden/Mother/Crone trinity found in neopagan mythology. This lack of explanation makes them all the more powerful – as Gaiman well knows, a story’s real power lies in the unknown.

The narrator begins to bond with 11-year-old Lettie Hempstock. She keeps his company as a series of strange events unfold, all seemingly related to the suicide of the opal miner who boarded with the narrator’s family. Lettie takes the narrator on an errand to banish the being causing the trouble. This errand alone contains all the creepy beauty and wild atmosphere Gaiman’s known for, but it’s just the beginning. The being follows the unnamed young protagonist back home and manifests itself as an evil nanny named Ursula Monkton. She dedicates herself to trapping and enslaving the young boy.

Gaiman lets the story of an evil nanny tormenting the painfully young abandoned narrator unfold as simply as any children’s tale. This makes the powerful, luminous spirituality of the tale’s final showdown all the more profound. The only words to capture the dark beauty and wonder of the final pages of *The Ocean at the End of the Lane* are the ones Gaiman has already used, so you’ll just have to read it yourself. You won’t regret it – this is hands-down the most moving book I’ve read this year. Like any fairy tale, it’s a fiction for the ages, meant for telling the truth.

Jul 07, 2013

A man returns to his boyhood home and remembers events of the past that have been lost to him.


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