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o-OCEAN-AT-THE-END-OF-THE-LANEEmma from Bookish in Crickhowell gives us this month’s recommendation

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.

While things may be told from an adult’s recollection, this book is excellent at conveying a child’s experience, whether the arbitrariness of the adult world which makes magical goings-on down the lane and the weird behaviour of one’s parent equally expected (or unexpected) or the aloofness of an unhappy child who takes refuge in his books.

At only 175 pages long this is a quick read and maybe because this started out as a short story it doesn’t have the detailed characterisation seen previously. It is, however, full of Gaiman’s trademark realistic and vivid style and it’s plain that he mined the depths of his own childhood to flesh out some of the story.  It’s not just the length that makes it difficult to compare to other ‘Adult’ books by Gaiman, such as American Gods. And some people may prefer to classify it as more suitable for Young Adults.

Review by Emma Corfield-Walters

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