Monday 26 August 2013

A review, of sorts

I find myself coming late to the magical realism party. I've just read The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman. I'd heard of him, of course, but this is the first of his books I've actually read. I heard a little snippet when it was Radio 4's Book At Bedtime and was intrigued, so when my son said he'd got the book I thought I'd give it a whirl.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane - HardcoverMy son is an avid reader. When I think back to famly holidays one of my principal memories is the rest of us having to stop and wait for him to catch up with us: because you can't walk and read at the same time and expect to do both of them efficiently. His book always won over his feet. We have some favourite authors in common, but he hates Wuthering Heights, which I'm taking with me on Desert Island Discs, and I can't abide full-on fantasy, which is his favourite genre. I was not a little surprised, therefore, to find The Ocean at the End of the Lane so good. I couldn't put it down. This week we've had lumpy sauce because I've tried to stir and read at the same time and  cups of tea have gone undrunk.

Most of the story is told from a child's point of view, but it's not a children's book. It's scary and bewildering and uplifing, with wonderful decriptions of scenery and sensation. I'm converted. I can't really tell you what the story is about, because that would spoil it, suffice to say that a young boy escapes from a horror in the real world only to be taken on an adventure elsewhere with a friend and her curious family.

I see there is a textbook on my shelf called Magic(al) Realism by Maggie Ann Bowers, which my son had as part of his studies for his creative writing degree. I might give it a read - or I might seek out another Neil Gaiman book, which, I suspect, would be much more fun. I like the look of Neverwhere, which is set in a world below London and has an angel in it called Islington. Any other suggestions?


Just had a text from my other son on his way back from the Reading festival. 'Awesome weeked. Very tired, smelly and disgusting!' Ah, to be 19.


  1. Bring it with you sis when u nxt up in the ucheter & I'll av a read too; I am without a book at t mo & there's only so much Viz u can take. Tx