I don’t really excel at book reviews, but let me tell you a story…
I was feeling rich that day, and generous toward myself, so I pre-ordered Neil Gaiman’s newest novel, The Ocean at the End of the Lane, and not just any copy of the book. Oh no. No, I ordered the special limited, signed, deluxe edition. Only 2,000 copies would be printed and each would be numbered and signed by Neil.
Then, I sat by as my Twitter and Facebook and every-freaking-where I looked blew up with people receiving their pre-ordered copies of The Ocean at the End of the Lane, and loving it. And I waited. And waited. Because you see, the special edition was special, so it was being released shortly after the other versions. But, I assured myself, it would be worth it. So I waited.
I was terribly tempted to buy a copy of a different edition just to read it before my special copy arrived, but I didn’t. Mostly because I knew Jo would disapprove LOL He’s practical like that. (Jo actually suggested I take a copy out from the library, but they had a waiting list so…)
And then the book came. And it was heavy and beautiful and intimidating.
This was not a book you could read just anywhere, or just anytime. It wasn’t the kind of book I could take into the bedroom (where I do a lot of my reading) and just set on the floor in between sessions. This was a book that demanded respect, and careful consideration of when and where to read it.
So I set it aside. I set it aside with the intention of reading it when the planets aligned correctly… and I considered joining the waiting list for a copy at the library.
Time passed. I’d be reminded, now and then, about my copy of The Ocean at the End of the Lane, whenever someone mentioned it on social media, or Kobo (based on other titles I’d read) suggested I might like to purchase a copy. I didn’t buy another copy. I didn’t take one out from the library. I waited. And the book sat and waited along with me.
Then, on Friday, I was laying on my bed working on novel revisions when Danica called me from school to let me know she was going out with friends and wouldn’t be home until late. Moments later Jo rang and said he was going out for a beer after work and would be a bit late getting home. And I knew it was time.
Do you have books you're waiting for 'just the right time' to read? I have one and I think now is the time.
— Rhonda Parrish (@RhondaParrish) September 5, 2014
I put my work away, picked the book off the shelf, got comfortable back on my bed and turned to the first page.
And I fell into the story.
At some point I stopped and took a nap, and when I woke it was twilight. My room was suffused in the half-light that comes midway between night and day, and my mind too, was locked between two things. Between the reality of my dog snoring at my feet, the kitty pressed against my side, and the world of The Ocean at the End of the Lane which is filled with much older things than these. It was magical. I’m a writer, but I don’t think I can capture that moment sufficiently with words to share it here, but it was magical.
Just like the book.
The next day I read more and that night I had a nightmare. The kind that stay with you and leave you unsettled for the whole rest of the day. I was tense, jumpy and melancholy… and it was because of The Ocean at the End of the Lane.
I haven’t read or watched anything in a very, very, very long time that gave me a nightmare, but I’m certain that’s what caused this one. I left off reading after an especially tense part of the story and the themes in my dreams and the themes in that part of the book were far too closely connected to be coincidence.
And I kept reading.
At one point I found myself crying, and if anyone had asked I wouldn’t have been able to tell them why. And later I found myself crying and I knew exactly why.
This book, for me, was as deep as the ocean in its title, and it touched me, and it changed me, and I’ll have to wait to see exactly how… but I think it’ll be in good ways.
And I think? I think the next time someone asks me what my favourite book in the whole world is, that I’ll have a new answer than I did a week ago.
Thank you Neil.