OCEAN THE END of the LANE. A Novel NEIL New York Times Bestsclling Author The Ocean at the End of the Lane Neil Gaiman WILLIAM MORROW An Imprint. The Ocean at the End of the Lane. Summary: In Sussex, England, a middle-aged man returns to his childhood home to attend a funeral. Although the house he. A brilliantly imaginative and poignant fairy tale from the modern master of wonder and terror, The Ocean at the End of the Lane is Neil Gaiman's first new novel.
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[PDF] Download The Ocean at the End of the Lane: A Novel [PDF EBOOK EPUB KINDLE] | READ ONLINE Download this book at. A brilliantly imaginative and poignant fairy tale from the modern master of wonder and terror, The Ocean at the End of the Lane is Neil Gaiman's first new. The questions and activities in this teaching guide were written to support standards-based instruction. The Ocean at the End of the Lane meets the standard for.
Everything spoke to everything, and I knew it all. Neil Gaiman is one of them. When I read his books, I don't read fantasy, or urban fantasy, or any other such label. What I read is "a Gaiman" , a unique blend of humor and dry wit and a strong narrative voice making the strangest leaps of imagination seem like nothing out of ordinary. And every time when I put down the book of his I've been reading into the wee hours of the night, unable to stop, I find myself with a haunting sense of longing and missing the world he created, the world into which he so effortlessly immerses his readers, the world of his storytelling that you never want to leave.
It's like Lettie Hempstock's ocean, the waters of which you wish you never had to leave, but where you cannot stay forever, no matter how badly you would want to. Hempstock to help you get it in there, and you ask nicely. This book will join my personal favorites by him - especially 'The Graveyard Book' to which it's a soul cousin. And I will revisit it in the future, probably more than once, just to hang out with Lettie and Old Mrs.
Hempstock, and maybe to catch the hint of a wave on an ancient world-ocean in the back yard. But I don't know how it got into my mouth. If someone had put it into my mouth, I would have woken up.
It was just in there, when I woke. What's happening? But it's doing it very badly, and it's stirring things up around here that should be asleep. And that's not good. Then she said, "Have you had breakfast? There were a few houses down the lane, here and there, back then, and she pointed to them as we went past. Now he's started seeing things in mirrors.
But with fingers poking out of his eye sockets. And things coming out of his mouth. Like crab claws. Who died in the car? Sort of.
Not exactly. He started this all off, like someone lighting a fuse on a firework. His death lit the touchpaper. The thing that's exploding right now, that isn't him That's somebody else. Something else. Now she won't get out of bed, in case someone takes it from her. Then I asked, "How long have you been eleven for?
We walked past Caraway Farm The farmers, whom one day I would come to know as Callie Anders's parents, were standing in their farmyard, shouting at each other. They stopped when they saw us. When we rounded a bend in the lane, and were out of sight, Lettie said, "Those poor people. And this morning he had a dream where she. To earn money. So he looked in her handbag and found lots of folded-up ten-shilling notes. She says she doesn't know where they came from, and he doesn't believe her.
He doesn't know what to believe. It's about money, isn't it? Scared even. And she said, "After pancakes. They were paper-thin, and as each pancake was done Lettie would squeeze lemon onto it, and plop a blob of plum jam into the center, and roll it tightly, like a cigar. When there were enough we sat at the kitchen table and wolfed them down.
There was a hearth in that kitchen, and there were ashes still smoldering in the hearth, from the night before. That kitchen was a friendly place, I thought. I said to Lettie, "I'm scared. I promise. I'm not scared. What's been hurt? Why would anybody be hurt?
Hempstock, her apron held betweenher hands, and in the hollow of the apron so many daffodils that the light reflected up from them transformed her face to gold, and the kitchen seemed bathed in yellow light. Lettie said, "Something's causing trouble.
It's giving people money. In their dreams and in real life. Hempstock put her apron on the kitchentable, rapidly moved the daffodils off the cloth and onto the wood. Then she took the shilling from Lettie. She squinted at it, sniffed it, rubbed at it, listened to it or put it to her ear, at any rate , then touched it with the tip of her purple tongue.
It's electron decay, mostly. You have to look at things closely to see the electrons. They're the little dinky ones that look like tiny smiles. The neutrons are the gray ones that look like frowns. The electrons were all a bit too smiley for , so then I checked the sides of the letters and the old king's head, and everything was a tad too crisp and sharp. Even where they were worn, it was as if they'd been made to be worn.
I was impressed. She gave me back the coin. Sometimes adults didn't like to be asked their ages, and sometimes they did. In my experience, old people did. They were proud oi their ages.
Wollery was seventy- seven, and Mr. Wollery was eighty- nine, and they liked telling us how old they were. Hemp stock went over to a cupboard, and took out several colorful vases. Not in the slightest. I remember the day the moon came. We looked up in the sky — it was all dirty brown and sooty gray here then, not green and blue. Then she took a pair of blackened kitchen scissors, and snipped off the bottom half-inch of stem from each of the daffodils.
I said, "Are you sure it's not that man's ghost doing this? Are you sure we aren't being haunted? I said, "Sorry. Hempstock said, "Go and get your mother. She's doing laundry. We placed the vases where I suggested, and I felt wonderfully important.
The daffodils sat like patches of sunlight, making that dark wooden kitchen even more cheerful. The floor was made of red and gray flagstones.
The walls were whitewashed. The old woman gave me a lump of honeycomb, from the Hempstocks' own beehive, on a chipped saucer, and poured a little cream over it from a jug. I ate it with a spoon, chewing the wax like gum, letting the honey flow into my mouth, sweet and sticky with an aftertaste of wildflowers.
I was scraping the last of the cream and honey from the saucer when Lettie and her mother came into the kitchen. Hempstock still had big Wellington boots on, and she strode in as if she were in an enormous hurry.
You'll rot his teeth. Hempstock shrugged. Show them who's boss and they can't do enough for you. You've tasted my cheese. Back in the old king's day there were those who'd ride for a week to download a round of my cheese. They said that the king himself had it with his bread and his boys, Prince Dickon and Prince Geoffrey and even little Prince John, they swore it was the finest cheese they had ever tasted — " "Gran," said Lettie, and the old lady stopped, mid-flow.
Lettie's mother said, "You'll be needing a hazel wand. And," she added, somewhat doubtfully, "I suppose you could take the lad. It's his coin, and it'll be easier to carry if he's with you. Something she made.
She was holding her horn-handled penknife, with the blade closed. Him and me. It'll be an adventure. And he'll be company. Please, Gran? Hempstock with hope on my face, and waited. I won't. And I'll be careful. Hempstock sniffed. Approach it with care. Bind it, close its ways, send it back to sleep. We'll be fine. But we weren't. Lettie led me to a hazel thicket beside the old road the hazel catkins were hanging heavy in the spring and she broke off a thin branch.
Then, with her knife, as if she had done it ten thousand times before, she stripped the branch of bark, cut it again, so now it resembled a Y. She put the knife away I did not see where it went and held the two ends of the Y in her hands.
We're looking for a blue Or something purply-blue, and shiny.
I gazed around, taking in the grass, a reddish-brown chicken pecking at the side of the driveway, some rusty farm machinery, the wooden trestle table beside the road and the six empty metal milk churns that sat upon it. I saw the Hempstocks' red-brick farmhouse, crouched and comfortable like an animal at rest. I saw the spring flowers; the omnipresent white and yellow daisies, the golden dandelions and do-you-like-butter buttercups, and, late in the season, a lone bluebell in the shadows beneath the milk-churn table, still glistening with dew.
We walked together to the bluebell. Lettie closed her eyes when we reached it. She moved her body back and forth, the hazel wand extended, as if she were the central point on a clock or a compass, her wand the hands, orienting toward a midnight or an east that I could not perceive.
We were a hundred yards up the lane, near where the Mini had been parked, when she spotted it: Lettie approached it. Again, the outstretched hazel stick, again the slow turning and turning. That way. Across a meadow and into a clump of trees. The corpse of a very small animal — a vole, by the look of it — lay on a clump of green moss. It had no head, and bright blood stained its fur and beaded on the moss. It was very red. Don't let go. She moved the hazel wand.
We found a clearing in the wood, and walked along the clearing, in a world made green. From our left came a mumble of distant thunder. She let her body swing again, and I turned with her, holding her arm. I felt, or imagined I felt, a throbbing going through me, holding her arm, as if I were touching mighty engines.
She set off in a new direction. We crossed a tiny stream together. Then she stopped, suddenly, and stumbled, but did not fall. It knows we're coming. It feels us. And it does not want us to come to it. Lettie grinned. A gust of wind threw leaves and dirt up into our faces.
In the distance I could hear something rumble, like a train. It was getting harder to see, and the sky that I could make out above the canopy of leaves was dark, as if huge storm-clouds had moved above our heads, or as if it had gone from morning directly to twilight. Lettie shouted, "Get down! She lay prone, and I lay beside her, feeling a little silly.
The ground was damp. I said nothing. Something came through the woods, above our heads. I glanced up, saw something brown and furry, but flat, like a huge rug, flapping and curling at the edges, and, at the front of the rug, a mouth, filled with dozens of tiny sharp teeth, facing down. It flapped and floated above us, and then it was gone.
She raised the tip of the hazel wand, and turned around slowly. Then she said, "The shilling. The one from your throat. Bring it out. Put it down on the fork of the stick. I just put the silver shilling down at the intersection of the Y. Lettie stretched her arms out, and turned very slowly, with the end of the stick pointing straight out. I moved with her, but felt nothing. No throbbing engines. We were over halfway around when she stopped and said, "Look! The tip of the hazel wand had begun smoking, softly.
She turned a little to the left, a little to the right, a little further to the right again, and the tip of the wand began to glow a bright orange. Lettie pushed it down into the damp moss. She said, "Take your coin back," and I did, picking it up carefully, in case it was hot, but it was icy cold. She left the hazel wand behind on the moss, the charcoal tip of it still smoking irritably. Lettie walked and I walked beside her.
We held hands now, my right hand in her left. The air smelled strange, like fireworks, and the world grew darker with every step we took into the forest.
Whatever happens, don't let go. It was reassuring.
You've got that? She said, "We've gone further than I imagined. Further than I expected. I'm no really sure what kinds of things live out here on the margins. I said, "Are we a long way from your farm? We're still on the borders of the farm. Hempstock Farm stretches a very long way. We brought a lot of this with us from the old country, when we came here. The farm came with us, and brought things with it when it came. Gran calls them fleas.
The sky of this place was the dull orange of a warning light; the plants, which were spiky, like huge, ragged aloes, were a dark silvery green, and looked as if they had been beaten from gunmetal. The coin, in my left hand, which had warmed to the heat of my body, began to cool down again, until it was as cold as an ice cube.
My right hand held Lettie Hempstock's hand as tightly as I could. She said, "We're here. And then it turned and I saw its face, and I heard something make a whimpering sound, like a dog that had been kicked, and I realized that the thing that was whimpering was me.
Its face was ragged, and its eyes were deep holes in the fabric. There was nothing behind it, just a gray canvas mask, huger than I could have imagined, all ripped and torn, blowing in the gusts of storm wind. Something shifted, and the ragged thing looked down at us. Lettie Hempstock said, "Name yourself. Empty eyes stared down at us. Then a voice as featureless as the wind said, "I am the lady of this place.
I have been here for such a long time. Since before the little people sacrificed each other on the rocks. My name is my own, child. Not yours. Now leave me be, before I blow you all away. Lettie Hempstock squeezed my hand and I feltbraver.
She said, "Asked you to name yourself, I did. I en't heard more'n empty boasts of age and time. Now, you tell me your name and I en't asking you a third time. Perhaps itwas the anger in her voice: It told me how I could make all the things like it happy. That they are simple creatures, and all any of them want is money, just money, and nothing more. Little tokens-of-work. If it had asked, I would have given them wisdom, or peace, perfect peace.
Let them be. Now it seemed to have crouched lower to the ground, and it was examining us like an enormous canvas scientist looking at two white mice. Two very scared white mice, holding hands. Lettie's hand was sweating, now. She squeezed my hand, whether to reassure me or herself I did not know, and I squeezed her hand back. The ripped face, the place where the face should have been, twisted.
I thought it was smiling. Perhaps it was smiling. I felt as if it was examining me, taking me apart. As if it knew everything about me — things I did not even know about myself. The girl holding my hand said, "If you en't telling me your name, I'll bind you as a nameless thing. And you'll still be bounden, tied and sealed like a polter or a shuck. Sometimes she was talking, and sometimes it was more like singing, in a tongue that was nothing I had ever heard, or would ever encounter later in life.
I knew the tune, though. I was certain of that. And as she sang, things happened, beneath the orange sky. The earth writhed and churned with worms, long gray worms that pushed up from the ground beneath our feet. Something came hurtling at us from the center mass of flapping canvas. It was a little bigger than a football. At school, during games, mostly I dropped things I was meant to catch, or closed my hand or them a moment too late, letting them hit me in the face or the stomach.
But this thing was coming straight at me and Lettie Hempstock, and I did not think, I only did. I put both my hands out and I caught the thing, a flapping, writhing mass of cobwebs and rotting cloth. And as I caught it in my hands I felt something hurt me: Lettie knocked the thing I was holding out of my hands, and it fell to the ground, where it collapsed into itself.
She grabbed my right hand, held it firmly once more. And through all this, she continued to sing. I have dreamed of that song, of the strange words to that simple rhyme- song, and on several occasions I have understood what she was saying, in my dreams. In those dreams I spoke thai language too, the first language, and I had dominion over the nature of all that was real.
In my dream, it was the tongue of what is, and anything spoken in it becomes real, because nothing said in that language can be a lie. It is the most basic building brick of everything. In my dreams I have used thai language to heal the sick and to fly; once I dreamed I kept a perfect little bed-and-breakfast by the seaside, and to everyone who came to stay with me I would say, in that tongue, "Be whole," and they would become whole, not be broken people, not any longer, because I had spoken the language ot shaping.
And, because Lettie was speaking the language of shaping, even if I did not understand what she was saying, I understood what was being said. The thing in the clearing was being bound to that place for always, trapped, forbidden to exercise its influence on anything beyond its own domain. Lettie Hempstock finished her song. In my mind, I thought I could hear the creature screaming, protesting, railing, but the place beneath that orange sky was quiet. Only the flapping of canvas and the rattle of twigs in the wind broke the silence.
The wind died down. A thousand pieces of torn gray cloth settled on the black earth like dead things, or like so much abandoned laundry. Nothing moved. Lettie said, "That should hold it. I thought she was trying to sound bright, but she didn't. She sounded grim. I looked down: I bent, grasped it at the base, firmly, with my left hand, and I pulled. Something came up from the earth, and swung around angrily. My hand felt like a dozen tiny needles had been sunk into it.
I brushed the earth from it, and apologized, and it stared at me, more with surprise and puzzlement than with anger. It jumped from my hand to my shirt, I stroked it: He turned up at the farm back in pagan times. All our farm cats trace back to him" I looked at the kitten hanging on my shirt with tiny kitten-claws.
It's a she. Not a good idea, taking anything home from these parts," said Lettie. I put the kitten down at the edge of the field. She darted off after a butterfly, which floated up and out of her reach, then she scampered away, without a lookback. The man who died told me about it, although he wasn't driving.
He said they didn't see it.
We were walking beneath a canopy of apple-blossom then, and the world smelled like honey. Don't last very long. Kittens one day, old cats the next.
And then just memories. And the memories fade and blend and smudge together. She let go of my hand. We were at the bottom of the lane, near the wooden shelf by the road with the battered silver milk churns on it. The world smelled normal. I said, "We're really back, now? And nasty? I've not seen one like that before. If I'd known she was going to be so old, and so big, and so nasty, I wouldn't' ve brung you with me.
Then she said, "I wish you hadn't let go of my hand. But still, you're all right, aren't you? Nothing went wrong. No damage done. I'm a brave soldier. Then I repeated what she had said, "No damage done. That evening my sister sat on her bed, brushing her hair over and over. She brushed it a hundred times every night, and counted each brush stroke.
I did not know why. I was staring at the sole of my right foot. There was a pink line across the center of the sole, from the ball of the foot almost to the heel, where I had stepped on a broken glass as a toddler. I remember waking up in my cot, the morning after it happened, looking at the black stitches that held the edges of the cut together.
It was my earliest memory. I was used to the pink scar. The little hole beside it, in the arch of my foot, was new. It was where the sudden sharp pain had been, although it did not hurt. It was just a hole. I prodded it with my forefinger, and it seemed to me that something inside the hole retreated. My sister had stopped brushing her hair and was watching me curiously. I got up, walked out of the bedroom, down the corridor, to the bathroom at the end of the hall.
I do not know why I did not ask an adult about it. I do not remember asking adults about anything, except as a last resort. That was the year I dug out a wart from my knee with a penknife, discovering how deeply I could cut before it hurt, and what the roots of a wart looked like. In the bathroom cupboard, behind the mirror, was a pair of stainless steel tweezers, the kind with pointed sharp tips, for pulling out wooden splinters, and a box of sticking plasters.
I sat on the metal side of the white bathtub and examined the hole in my foot. It was a simple, small round hole, smooth- edged.
I could not see how deeply it went, because something was in the way. Something was blocking it. Something that seemed to retreat, as the light touched it. I held my tweezers, and I watched. Nothing happened.
Nothing changed. I put the forefinger of my left hand over the hole, gently, blocking the light. Then I put the tip of the tweezers beside the hole and I waited. I counted to a hundred — inspired, perhaps, by my sister's hair- brushing.
Then I pulled my finger away and stabbed in with the tweezers. I caught the head of the worm, if that was what it was, by the tip, between the metal prongs, and I squeezed it, and I pulled. Have you ever tried to pull a worm from a hole? You know how hard they can hold on? The way they use their whole bodies to grip the sides of the hole? I pulled perhaps an inch of this worm — pink and gray, streaked, like something infected — out of the hole in my foot, and then felt it stop. I could feel it, inside my flesh, making itself rigid, unpullable.
I was not scared by this. It was obviously just something that happened to people, like when the neighbor's cat, Misty, had worms. I had a worm in my foot, and I was removing the worm. I twisted the tweezers, thinking, I suspect, of spaghetti on a fork, winding the worm around the tweezers. It tried to pull back, but I turned it, a little at a time, until I could definitely pull no further.
I could feel, inside me, the sticky plastic way that it tried to hold on, like a strip of pure muscle. I leaned over, as far as I could, reached out my left hand and turned on the bath's hot- water tap, the one with the red dot in the center, and I let it run.
The water ran for three, four minutes out of the tap and down the plug hole before it began to steam. When the water was steaming, I extended my foot and my right arm, maintaining pressure on the tweezers and on the inch of the creature that I had wound out of my body. Then I put the place where the tweezers were under the hot tap. The water splashed my foot, but my soles were barefoot- hardened, and I scarcely minded.
The water that touched my fingers scalded them, but I was prepared for the heat. The worm wasn't. I felt it flex inside me, trying to pull back from the scalding water, felt it loosen its grip on the inside of my foot. I turned the tweezers, triumphantly, like picking the best scab in the world, as the creature began to come out of me, putting up less and less resistance. I pulled at it, steadily, and as it went under the hot water it slackened, until the end.
It was almost all out of me — I could feel it — but I was too confident, too triumphant, and inpatient, and I lugged too quickly, too hard, and the worm came off in my hand. The end of it that came out of me was oozing and broken, as if it had snapped off. Still, if the creature had left anything behind in my foot, it was tiny.
I examined the worm. It was dark gray and light gray, streaked with pink, and segmented, like a normal earthworm Now it was out of the hot water, it seemed to be recovering.
It wriggled, and the body that had been wrapped around the tweezers now dangled, writhing, although it hung from the head Was it its head? How could I tell? I did not want to kill it — I did not kill animals, not if I could help it — but I had to get rid of it. I will say it is short as it focused on one event, one wrong that needs to be put right. And because of that focus Neil Gaiman is free to explore the minor but significant details as well as look at the grander parts of life.
It made me smile, it made me sad, it made my heart ache and it made me think. Events take place over just a few days, and since the consequences of his actions are forgotten by the main character, it's easy to believe that nothing of importance has really happened. If you haven't heard of Neil Gaiman yet you can be forgiven, but this, his sixth adult novel, will firmly cement his handprints in the literary walk of fame It's a tale about childhood for grown-ups, a fantasy rooted in the darkest corners of reality.
But some books just swallow you up, heart and soul' Joanne Harris. The recipient of numerous literary honours, Neil Gaiman's work has been adapted for film, television and radio. As George R R Martin says: Rating details.
Our customer reviews I find Neil Gaiman a pleasure to read. He creates fantasy worlds like no other and this book was no exception. It's magical and captures you from the start. But most of all it conveys childhood beautifully. The fears, joys and, most of all, the innocence. How willing you are to accept anything, no matter how odd, as absolutely real. As the narrator says paraphrasing here , even as the world around you collapses, being able to enjoy the little things in life.
That's one of the main messages i take from it. Try to view the world through the eyes of a child.