Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr was recommended to me by my nephew. I am so glad that he thought to recommend it to me as I absolutely loved it.
I might say here that I am not a lover of science fiction or fantasy and although there were aspects of those genres in the novel it certainly didn’t detract from my enjoyment.
The novel is indeed a large volume, 625 pages, but there are many chapter heading pages so it is not as huge as it appears.
“Bound together by a single ancient text, the unforgettable characters of Cloud Cuckoo Land are dreamers and outsiders figuring out the world around them: thirteen year old Anna and Omeir, an orphaned seamstress and a cursed boy, on opposite side of the formidable city walls during the 1453 siege of Constantinople; teenage idealist Seymour and octogenarian Zeno in an attack on a public library in present day Idaho; and Konstance, decades from now, who turns to the oldest stories to guide her community in peril.”
Doerr has created a tapestry of times and places that reflects our own vast interconnectedness -with other species, with each other, with those who lived before us and those who will be here after we’re gone. “Dedicated to the librarians, then and now, and in the years to come”
Cloud Cuckoo Land is a beautiful and redemptive novel about stewardship – of the book, of the Earth, of the human heart.
(from the book cover)
This review from Jenna on Goodreads mirrors how I felt about this book.
“This book is everything a reader could ask for. This beautifully written book shows how broken the world is and the damage we continue to inflict upon it, but it also is a shining example of hope.
This is part contemporary, part historical fiction, and part sci-fi. It follows a wonderful cast of characters throughout many centuries.
Wow, what an amazing story, spanning a millennium and reaching into the future, Cloud Cuckoo Land entwines the lives of:
• An ancient Grecian philosopher telling the story of a man turned into a donkey, a fish, and a crow
•A thirteen year old orphan in medieval Constantinople, doing what she can to save her sickly older sister and finding a stash of archaic papyrus
•A man believed to be cursed because he was born with a cleft palate and whose closest friends are his beloved oxen
• A man who learns Greek while he’s kept captive during the Korean War
•An idealistic teenager with Sensory Processing Disorder who wants to save the environment by any means necessary
•A young girl aboard an intergenerational spaceship travelling 4,806,280 miles an hour toward a star system and planet where humans might have another chance at survival.
The book goes back and forth between these characters, telling their stories and bringing them to life. With a less talented author, this could have been confusing. However, the stories and times and places flow seamlessly, melding these disparate lives into one incredible adventure.
It is a long book but don’t let that put you off. There is not one superfluous sentence or paragraph and it reads quickly, the pages almost turning themselves.
“Each of these books, child, is a door, a gateway to another place and time. You have your whole life in front of you, and for all of it, you’ll have this. It will be enough, don’t you think?”