The Beatrice Stubbs series
What We Thought: The narrator returns back to the lane where he grew up, and sitting on a bench by a pond, remembers how much he has forgotten. The adult and his seven-year-old self relate the fantastical recollections of his childhood, his encounters with the Hempstock women, his battles with Ursula the usurper and some startling moments of domestic drama.
Gaiman’s story is freighted with symbolism, imagination, memory, reality and invention, stories and myth, while rooted in the Sussex countryside of the 1960s. Full of extraordinary images and ideas, I will revisit The Ocean at the End of the Lane. This is not a long book, but one to savour and remember how powerful a thing is the childhood imagination.
You’ll enjoy this if you like: Neil Gaiman, magical realism, Susanna Clarke, Philip Pullman, Douglas Adams.
Avoid if you don’t like: Symbolism, shifting realities, repeated motifs.
Ideal accompaniments: Dandelion and burdock, a sherbert fountain and Dew by Don Robertson.
Genre: Young Adult, literary magical realism.