The Ocean at the End of the Lane: A Novel - Neil Gaiman 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.

This book is childhood.

Are all [a:Neil Gaiman|1221698|Neil Gaiman|] books like this? So beautifully, hauntingly nostalgic? I confess, this is my first; but right now I am logging into amazon to make sure it isn't my last. I have one criticism, which is that this book isn't really an adult book. The few adult scenes felt added as an afterthought to try and convince us little people that this is actually a very grown-up kinda story. But, take out that dodgy sex scene, and I would have been mesmerised and terrified by this book as a kid, perhaps even more than I was reading it today. It has everything that we could possibly ask for in childhood: magic, adventure, overcoming fears, those things that children know and adults no longer understand or remember, and it's all wrapped up in a tidy 180 pages.

There's an almost dreamlike quality to the story and there are many reasons it's hard to know what's real and what is not. The book opens with a middle-aged man revisiting the place where he used to live with his parents and sister when he was a young boy of seven. He visits his old house before wandering down to the farm at the end of the lane, a place that starts to bring back a strange sequence of memories as seen through the eyes of a young boy. How real are the magic and monsters of our childhood? When we look back and see ignorant youths believing in the impossible, are we enlightened adults? Or are we the ignorant ones, blinded by years dedicated to being sensible and not believing? Are the villains we remember monsters from another world? Or is that just how children make sense of the people who brought upheaval into their lives?

I found it truly fascinating.

The creepy yet beautiful setting in the English countryside was fantastic. A little lonely, somewhat isolated... like a world entirely of its own in which anything could be possible. This book held all the charm and beauty of the world portrayed in [b:Cider With Rosie|292314|Cider With Rosie|Laurie Lee||1401317], but was ten times more compelling and addictive. And there were the characters, of course. Lettie Hempstock, an eleven year old who might just have been eleven for a very long time, and her quirky mother and grandmother. Also, the narrator had my sympathy throughout; his seven year old lack of understanding and fear of the adult world that he saw as separate from his own was easily believable, for me. I think we do create a world of our own when we're kids, one that adults aren't a part of, that's how we're able to believe in things like magic and wizards and Santa.

To put it plainly, I really enjoyed my first trip into the world of Gaiman. The ending is perfect. A little sad. But mostly perfect.