Novel by Neil Gaiman
Abridged by Doreen Estall
Read by: Michael Sheen
Performed on BBC Radio 4
July 2013 “She was much older than me. At least 11. She had a soft Sussex accent, grey-blue eyes, and a freckled face.”
The Ocean at the End of the Lane Radio Play by Neil Gaiman
I find it very strange to live in a country where there are audiobooks on the radio, but I am loving it. While I am probably mistaken and there are similar things in America, I didn’t know how to access them. So when Neil Gaiman mentioned that Michael Sheen would be reading his latest book, The Ocean at the End of the Lane, I was rather excited. Luckily, I finished reading the book before the radio play started, as I didn’t want to spoil the ending. Over the course of five nights I was able to relive the book. If you want more about the plot of The Ocean at the End of the Lane and the book in general, you can click on the link and read my review of the book.
The story follows an unnamed man as he visits his childhood home after a funeral. He is reluctant to rejoin his family and instead takes this trip. While there, he begins a walk down the lane and visits a family he knew near the end of the lane, the Hempstocks; a grandmother, daughter and granddaughter. He remembers a strange time around his 7th birthday when he and the granddaughter, Lettie, had had some adventures and visited Lettie’s duck pond, which she called The Ocean.
I think the first thing I need to mention is that this is an abridged production. I normally avoid abridged versions of anything (unless they are humorously abridged performances, like Shakespeare Abridged!). However, having read the book ahead of time, I can say this was a very good abridging. The story for the radio reading was very streamlined, which was probably aided by the fact that the book is not that long. Looking back there was nothing major missing, and it was a nice complete story.
I have to say that I really enjoyed Michael Sheen’s reading. His voice is nice and deep, and with his training in theatre, he was able to do a very good job. It is hard to compare to other audiobook voice actors, as there were not that many characters. It seems clear that Sheen was enjoying the work.
Overall, I enjoyed this, especially as it is only one hour and fifteen minutes in run time. While it was not as exciting as the Neverwhere radio play, I think it worked. The story was advertised as “story before bedtime” (or something like that), and it felt like having a bed time story.
Final Verdict: A good adaptation of the book, and a great reader.