Water, water, everywhere, Nor any drop to drink

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‘Here we are again with the Friday Face Off meme being hosted by Books by Proxy .   This is a great opportunity to feature some of your favourite books covers.  The rules are fairly simple and can be found here.  Each week, following a predetermined theme choose a book, compare a couple of the different covers available for that particular book and choose your favourite.  Simples.  This week the theme is:

‘Water, Water Everywhere’

This week I’ve gone for three covers: The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman, firstly, I love Neil Gaiman’s books, his imagination and ability to just completely pull me into whatever world he has created and, secondly, these covers are all excellent:

So, we have the first cover with the young girl, the second cover with the young boy and the third cover with the boy and the girl in the background.  I like all of these covers for different reasons but without doubt my favourite is the third.  I like the fairytale feel, the style of the font and the title framed by the trees and then in the very back the two figures like two shining lights emerging from the dark.

Next week’s theme:

01st April 2016 | Peace is Poor Reading

A cover which features war

Come join in the fun!

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The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

Just finished reading The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman which I loved, enough that it gave me goose pimples and tears in my eyes!

This is only a short story, like a snippet of memory from childhood when you think everything is possible and anything can pretty much be something else.  The underneath of your kitchen table is a fort, the tree at the bottom of the garden is Nottingham Forest and the pond in the farmyard at the bottom of the lane is an ocean.  What I loved about this story is it makes you think back.  There’s always one perfect summer from your past, you can recall being on holiday, sitting on the beach eating sandwiches and sausage rolls, everything tasting a little as though it had been seasoned with sand grains, and you still believed in the impossible.  You wanted to explore that rock pool and you believed the caves to your back might have ghosts, smugglers from the past or maybe something more sinister.  This is what this story captures for me and perhaps that’s why I still love to read books like this because it keeps that small grain of something special alive inside.  As you grow older you forget the stories you created and lived in, those weren’t fairies at the bottom of the garden and of course you can’t really do magic!  Not to mention the world seemed so much bigger – when you revisit the places you used to live and play they’re not the same as you remember somehow.  That field is just a field – it’s not the size of a continent any more. This story reawakens some of those memories – or at least it did for me.

The tale is told in a flashback.  A man revisiting memories from his past.  We jump back a number of years to a young boy who lives in one of those ramshackle houses that no longer seem to exist.  Bits added on and no particular order.  This young boy lives in a world of books and imagination, which makes him into something of an oddity and probably not the most popular boy at school – a fact that is revealed by the absence of attendees at his seventh birthday party.  But he’s happy, he has his books and his kitten for company, until a lodger comes to stay and starts a string of events that turn things upside down for a while.

What I love about this book is that whilst it’s fairly short the author’s use of words bring the world to life for me.  I can picture the house and the countryside, the farm and even the pond.  Granted my imagination might convey something completely different from the next reader but I think that’s part of the magic of this story.  It will be unique for each reader.  I really enjoyed seeing the world through a 7 year old’s eyes.  Gaiman has managed to reach back and give this a child’s perspective.  When you read you can see the truth behind what is really taking place but only momentarily before the world shimmers and you’re back inside the fantasy again.

At times quite sinister, certainly the varmints turn into something very creepy not to mention Ursula Monkton – the nanny from hell!  The whole scene where the young boy is unable to get beyond the confines of his home and garden, like he’s trapped – is it just that Ursula is a regular nanny, protecting him and keeping him from trouble or is she keeping him trapped and exactly how does she manage to be everywhere at once!  She really has got eyes in the back of her head.

Evocative of lots of things all rolled into one and playing on superstition, folklore and myth the tale is beautifully told.

I’m not going to elaborate further.  All I can say is that I loved this and hopefully that comes across here.  And, I don’t think this is just some ‘Neil-Gaiman-can’t-do-anything-wrong-hero-worship’ type of review because frankly I don’t ‘love’ everything that he’s written.  Personally though I enjoyed this as much as The Graveyard Book and Neverwhere and it will be one of those books that I will pick up again and again.  I think that if you want a little flashback, to be taken back to an age when things held magic then you should give this a go.  Who knows what will happen…