With stories come possibilities.
On March 18th Headline is relaunching new editions of five Neil Gaiman novels: Neverwhere, Stardust, American Gods, Anansi Boys and The Ocean at the End of the Lane. Each of the novels features a wonderful endorsement from a great, visionary writer explaining what they love about Gaiman’s work.
Designed by Leo Nickolls under the direction of Headline’s Art Director, Patrick Insole, each book will have a fresh livery and its own bespoke design features that start to tell the story from the very first page.
Neil Gaiman’s novels are nothing short of iconic and this launch comes on the back of a sell-out National Theatre production of The Ocean at the End of the Lane, due to transfer to the West End on 23rd October, and a highly successful TV production of Good Omens, adapted and show-run by Neil from the novel he co-wrote with the late Sir Terry Pratchett, and ahead of the eagerly anticipated release of the Netflix adaptation of Neil’s comic book The Sandman, which was listed as one of the BBC’s 100 Novels that Shaped Our World.
The launch comes as Neil Gaiman’s seminal road trip novel American Gods celebrates its twentieth anniversary; Headline editions of the book have now sold a million copies and the Emmy-nominated TV adaptation has just entered its third season on Amazon Prime Video.
I am sharing my thoughts with you today of The Ocean at the End of The Lane so I do you hope you enjoy!
[ About the Book ]
This is what he remembers, as he sits by the ocean at the end of the lane:
A dead man on the back seat of the car, and warm milk at the farmhouse.
An ancient little girl, and an old woman who saw the moon being made.
A beautiful housekeeper with a monstrous smile.
And dark forces woken that were best left undisturbed.
They are memories hard to believe, waiting at the edges of things. The recollections of a man who thought he was lost but is now, perhaps, remembering a time when he was saved . . .
[ My Review ]
The Ocean at the End of The Lane by Neil Gaiman is described as ‘a brilliantly imaginative and poignant fairy tale from the modern master of wonder and terror. This bewitching and harrowing tale of mystery and survival, and memory and magic, makes the impossible all too real…’ Originally published in 2013 The Ocean at the End of The Lane is a tale of pure mystery and imagination.
Our narrator is now an adult and back at his homeplace for a funeral. Feeling overwhelmed by the day, he goes off on an aimless drive, surprised to find himself pulling up by the farmhouse at the end of the lane in its ‘dilapidated red-brick glory’, the Hempstocks’ house. Briefly, as a child, he became acquainted with Lettie Hempstock, who was a few years older than him, and her mother and grandmother. He had been seven-years old and had just been exposed to the dead body of his parents lodger in their family car early one morning.
Growing up a shy and self-contained individual with his books for company, he lived with his mother and father, and his sister, in a large house that his parents were struggling to pay for. Taking on a lodger was seen as a temporary solution but it was in fact the moment when lives were changed forever. With the police at the death scene, the young boy is clearly in the way. Lettie Hempstock suddenly appears and suggests he come to her house until his father is ready to collect him. Lettie is different from the other children he has met. Gentle and confident, she brings him to meet her mother and grandmother and he is accepted, without question, into their ramshackle and cosy home.
An adventure is about to begin as the reader is taken on a mystical and otherworldly journey where strangeness and reality are mixed to the point where it’s difficult to separate the here and the there. With a dreamlike quality to the story, the young boy enters a world that is both fantastic and weird. He has the unfailing trust of a child and a very clear idea of what is right and what is wrong. His family dynamic changes and his relationship with his father takes on a very sinister edge. Something is clearly amiss. An evil has been disturbed, one that is malevolent and is clawing, one that takes and takes, one that needs to be locked away before the world is literally eaten up star by star, tree by tree leaving a vast grey emptiness behind.
At times a perplexing and chilling read, The Ocean at the End of The Lane is an adult book told from a child’s perspective. Neil Gaiman decided to write a book ‘for anyone who has been seven years old’ and he captures the voice of our narrator’s earlier years excellently, conveying his fears, his dreams, his reality bringing them very much alive for the reader. The creatures in The Ocean at the End of The Lane definitely do go bump in the night as the Hempstock family reveal a bit more of their strange ways and their need for existence in our world to help keep us safe from the dark. A supernatural fantasy with an undercurrent of horror, The Ocean at the End of The Lane is a very unique read, one that will make you think about your own existence and that of ‘others’. Are we alone in this world of ours? Who really keeps us safe?
The Ocean at The End of The Lane (2013) won both the National Book Award for Book of the Year and the Locus award. In 2019 it was adapted for the National Theatre and is transferring to the West End on 23rd October this year.
[ Bio ]
Neil Gaiman is a storyteller. He is the No.1 Sunday Times and New York Times bestselling writer of books, graphic novels, short stories, film and television for all ages, and is known for creating extraordinary worlds beyond imagination. He has been awarded numerous literary honours, including the National Book Award, the Writers for Writers Award, the Hugo, Locus and Bram Stoker awards, and is the first author to have won both the Carnegie and Newbery Medals for the same work.
In 2017, Neil became a Goodwill Ambassador for UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency. He received a Doctor of Letters from the University of St Andrews, is a Professor in the Arts at Bard College and is a Royal Society of Literature fellow.
Neil’s official website, www.neilgaiman.com, has more than 1 million unique visitors each month and he has 2.8 million followers on Twitter @neilhimself