…it was all coming back to me. Memories were waiting at the edges of things, beckoning to me. Had you told me that I was seven again, I might have half-believed you, for a moment.
Neil Gaiman, page 7, First William Morrow Paperback Edition
An introverted, bookish man returns to his hometown after a death in the family. Needing some time away from the demands of the funeral services, he drives to the farmhouse of a childhood friend. He is overwhelmed by a series of strange and troubling memories as he sits by a familiar pond at the back of the farm. Revisiting the past through the dual lens of innocence and experience, he takes measure of his life in light of a forgotten sacrifice that a young girl made on his behalf many years before.
Gaiman’s novel is remarkable for the strong emotions that it generates within the reader. Drawing upon an imaginative canvas, he conjures up vividly the feelings of vulnerability and powerlessness experienced by children thrown into circumstances beyond their control. By reminding us of what it is like to be seven years old, he gives us insight into our past and a greater understanding of the experiences of our children.
The criminal practitioner will recognize the malevolence of the persuasive liar (“…I think they’ll believe me. I’ll be very convincing”, states the devious Ursula Monkton at p. 65), the fallibility of memory through the passage of time (“…the memories fade and blend and smudge together…”p. 45), and the chaos that ensues when individuals indulge recklessly their every desire.