“It was only a duck pond, out at the back of the farm. It wasn’t very big.
Lettie Hempstock said it was an ocean, but I knew that was silly. She said they’d come here across the ocean from the old country.
Her mother said that Lettie didn’t remember properly, and it was a long time ago, and anyway, the old country had sunk.
Old Mrs. Hempstock, Lettie’s Grandmother, said they were both wrong, and that the place that had sunk wasn’t the really old county. She said she could remember the really old country.
She said the really old country had blown up.”
The Ocean at the End of the Lane by the talented Neil Gaiman is a fabulous, horrific and magical tale, and at a mere 178 pages, this story is an ocean within a duck pond.
The narrative is that of a grown man, married and then divorced with children, who is drawn to his childhood home, more specifically a duck pond behind a farmhouse at the end of the lane. Once beside the pond, he begins to remember the events from a spectacular spring when, preceding the suicide of a houseguest, he is thrust into a fight for his life with powers he can only begin to comprehend. The threat is very real, and takes the form of the adult world from which he is, at the age of seven, powerless against. He is aided in the battle by a girl of eleven, Lettie Hemptock, who seems wise well beyond her age, her buxom and no-nonsense mother, and her mysterious and magical grandmother. Before long, the boy finds a solace and faith in the women that will save his life and that of his family.
I devoured this book in a mere three hours, satiated at the last page by the fabulous ending. This is storytelling at its finest.