Hot Best Seller

Cloud Cuckoo Land

Availability: Ready to download

Thirteen-year-old Anna, an orphan, lives inside the formidable walls of Constantinople in a house of women who make their living embroidering the robes of priests. Restless, insatiably curious, Anna learns to read, and in this ancient city, famous for its libraries, she finds a book, the story of Aethon, who longs to be turned into a bird so that he can fly to a utopian pa Thirteen-year-old Anna, an orphan, lives inside the formidable walls of Constantinople in a house of women who make their living embroidering the robes of priests. Restless, insatiably curious, Anna learns to read, and in this ancient city, famous for its libraries, she finds a book, the story of Aethon, who longs to be turned into a bird so that he can fly to a utopian paradise in the sky. This she reads to her ailing sister as the walls of the only place she has known are bombarded in the great siege of Constantinople. Outside the walls is Omeir, a village boy, miles from home, conscripted with his beloved oxen into the invading army. His path and Anna’s will cross. Five hundred years later, in a library in Idaho, octogenarian Zeno, who learned Greek as a prisoner of war, rehearses five children in a play adaptation of Aethon’s story, preserved against all odds through centuries. Tucked among the library shelves is a bomb, planted by a troubled, idealistic teenager, Seymour. This is another siege. And in a not-so-distant future, on the interstellar ship Argos, Konstance is alone in a vault, copying on scraps of sacking the story of Aethon, told to her by her father. She has never set foot on our planet.


Compare

Thirteen-year-old Anna, an orphan, lives inside the formidable walls of Constantinople in a house of women who make their living embroidering the robes of priests. Restless, insatiably curious, Anna learns to read, and in this ancient city, famous for its libraries, she finds a book, the story of Aethon, who longs to be turned into a bird so that he can fly to a utopian pa Thirteen-year-old Anna, an orphan, lives inside the formidable walls of Constantinople in a house of women who make their living embroidering the robes of priests. Restless, insatiably curious, Anna learns to read, and in this ancient city, famous for its libraries, she finds a book, the story of Aethon, who longs to be turned into a bird so that he can fly to a utopian paradise in the sky. This she reads to her ailing sister as the walls of the only place she has known are bombarded in the great siege of Constantinople. Outside the walls is Omeir, a village boy, miles from home, conscripted with his beloved oxen into the invading army. His path and Anna’s will cross. Five hundred years later, in a library in Idaho, octogenarian Zeno, who learned Greek as a prisoner of war, rehearses five children in a play adaptation of Aethon’s story, preserved against all odds through centuries. Tucked among the library shelves is a bomb, planted by a troubled, idealistic teenager, Seymour. This is another siege. And in a not-so-distant future, on the interstellar ship Argos, Konstance is alone in a vault, copying on scraps of sacking the story of Aethon, told to her by her father. She has never set foot on our planet.

30 review for Cloud Cuckoo Land

  1. 4 out of 5

    Yun

    So many words! It would take seven lifetimes to learn them all. Have mercy! That's how I felt reading this monstrosity of a book. So many descriptions... it would take seven lifetimes to read them all. Sigh. For all you fans of Anthony Doerr and All the Light We Cannot See, rest assured, because Cloud Cuckoo Land delivers more of the same: endless, beautiful descriptions of mundane nonevents and no actual plot to be seen anywhere. I'm sitting here trying to think up some sentences to describe So many words! It would take seven lifetimes to learn them all. Have mercy! That's how I felt reading this monstrosity of a book. So many descriptions... it would take seven lifetimes to read them all. Sigh. For all you fans of Anthony Doerr and All the Light We Cannot See, rest assured, because Cloud Cuckoo Land delivers more of the same: endless, beautiful descriptions of mundane nonevents and no actual plot to be seen anywhere. I'm sitting here trying to think up some sentences to describe what this book is about, and I'm honestly at a loss. It has five points of view and an additional story within, so that's six separate plot lines we are following, with some of them jumping across multiple timelines as well. If that's not confusing enough, each chapter is only a few pages long before switching to someone else. So just as I'm settling into one, I'm yanked out of it and dropped into another. Speaking of the different storylines, they are not all equally interesting. My most dreaded are Omeir and Anna's, who are both waiting and preparing for war (but separately). How much is there to write about the non-act of waiting? Well, a lot, as it turns out. To pass the pages, we get to know intimately these characters' landscapes and their every thought. We also read all about Zeno being in war, though this is a different war from the other one, so it requires its own detailed descriptions. It's not that there is no action, but rather that whenever anything potentially exciting happens, it's immediately mired within paragraphs of descriptive prose, which no matter how beautifully written, just don't hold my interest. I do want to point out something that made me uncomfortable. The one "villain" we follow is clearly described as an autistic person, and I'm honestly a little surprised this made it through. Are we still living in a time period where it's ok to vilify certain groups of people? I understand that his storyline is eventually redemptive, but why was it necessary to make him autistic to begin with? The most interesting of the storylines happens aboard the Argos. But here, too, it disappointed me. One of the (only!) interesting things to happen was never fully explained. And the plot's eventual pivot towards the end of the book felt underdeveloped and a waste of potential. The six different storylines do all tie together in the end, but it's a pretty weak connection. Honestly, you could've strung random storylines together the same way and called it good too. Obviously, many readers love Anthony Doerr, so something must be broken in me because I just can't understand it. This is the second novel I've read by him, and I feel exactly the same both times. When I see his paragraphs upon paragraphs of descriptive prose about walking or hiding or skulking, my eyes glaze over. No matter how hard I try, I can't seem to process or retain his writing. My mind wanders constantly. And when I do manage to focus, my memory of what I read is gone as soon as I've finished the sentence. Often I can't even make it to the end of a paragraph before I've forgotten the beginning and had to start over. This happened for almost the entire book. If I sound somewhat bitter, I apologize. It's just that this book is more than 600 pages and I read through it all (many parts multiple times) just to make sure I didn't miss some epiphany. Spoiler alert: I didn't. My heartfelt thanks for the advance copy that was provided for my honest and unbiased review.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Will Byrnes

    Sometimes the things we think are lost are only hidden, waiting to be rediscovered. Anthony Doerr has written a masterpiece of a tale, connecting five characters, over hundreds of years through their relationship to a single book. Cloud Cuckoo Land is an ancient story written by Antonius Diogenes around the first century C.E. (Only in the novel. While the author is real, the book was made up.) It tells of a shepherd, Aethon, seeking a magical, heavenly place in the sky, the “Cloud Cuckoo Land Sometimes the things we think are lost are only hidden, waiting to be rediscovered. Anthony Doerr has written a masterpiece of a tale, connecting five characters, over hundreds of years through their relationship to a single book. Cloud Cuckoo Land is an ancient story written by Antonius Diogenes around the first century C.E. (Only in the novel. While the author is real, the book was made up.) It tells of a shepherd, Aethon, seeking a magical, heavenly place in the sky, the “Cloud Cuckoo Land” of the title. Each of the five characters are introduced to this story, and we see how it impacts their lives. Each has characteristics that set them apart. But all have lost, or lose, at least one parent. Anthony Doerr - image from Boise State Public Radio We meet Konstance, 14, on an interstellar, generational ship, maybe the late 21st century, maybe the 22nd. She is laying out on the floor of a large room the scraps of pages that comprise the book. (Sometimes he [Doerr] would lay out all these micro chapters on the floor so he could see them and discover the resonances between characters across space and time. - from the NY Times interview) She was born on The Argos, and the plan is that she will not live long enough to reach the ship’s destination, but will grow to adulthood and raise a family there, passing down humanity’s culture so that someday, homo sapiens can rebuild on a new, unspoiled home world, Beta Oph2. Hopefully that planet will remain better off once people arrive. She is driven by her need to know, a boundless curiosity, and a willingness to think outside the ship. Anna is an orphan. In 15th century Constantinople we follow her from age 7 to early adolescence. She and her older sister, Maria, work as seamstresses in the house of Nicholas Kalaphates. It is a Dickensian world of exploitation of diverse sorts. Anna is far too bright to be denied the world of words, and, once exposed to it, she pursues that world doggedly. On her travels through the city on errands she comes across a class of boys being taught Greek, The Odyssey, and attends, surreptitiously. The master agrees to teach her privately in return for modest items. Her literacy makes her a suspect to the adults around her, a criminal to others, and possibly a witch to the most ignorant, but leads her to a ruined library and eventually, to Aethon. The Imperial Library at Constantinople [in better days] – image from Novo Scriptorium Omeir was born in 1439, like Anna, but with a cleft lip and palate. The superstitious country people in his home town believed him cursed, demonic even, so he is driven out of town, exiled to a remote part of what is now Bulgaria, where he does his best to remain out of sight, to be raised by his grandfather. But Omeir is a survivor. He becomes a marvel at the care of oxen, raising and training two to immense proportions. The team of three are remarkable workers. Downside is that the new sultan demands Omeir, now an adolescent, and his oxen serve in his army. He is planning to lay siege to Constantinople, a city with walls that have withstood such attacks for over eleven hundred years. Omeir will encounter Aethon later. The oldest surviving map of Constantinople, by Cristoforo Buondelmonti, dated to 1422. The fortifications of Constantinople and of Galata, at the northern shore of the Golden Horn, are prominently featured. - image from Wikipedia Seymour does not fit in. He lives with his mother, who struggles to get by on low-wage jobs. Probably on the spectrum, he struggles with more than the usual travails of growing up. He cannot, for example, tolerate loud sound. He cannot or will not remain in his seat at school. The world overwhelms him and when the pressure of it builds too high, he screams, which is not conducive to a successful school life. A class library outing brings him into contact with a whole new world, when the librarian, Marian, (surely a nod to The Music Man) hooks him up with nature books. He finds comfort in the natural world, befriending a large, amenable owl, and reveling in walks in the woods adjacent to his home. We follow him from childhood into adolescence and into his development as an eco-warrior. Seymour is the avatar of Doerr’s concerns about environmental degradation, presenting a generational cri du coeur, however misguided in its application, about the destruction of a following generation’s natural heritage. We see Zeno as a child. He realizes he is gay at an early age. But it is the 1940s in Idaho, and this is simply not allowed. He has to keep that part of himself hidden. We see him again as a POW during the Korean War, when he learns Greek, and as an octogenarian teacher. He lives in a small Idaho community, and is leading five students in a stage performance of Cloud Cuckoo Land, a book he translated from the Greek, well, from what bits remained of it. As with All the Light We Cannot See, Doerr’s 2014 Pulitzer Prize winning novel, his characters here are young. (Not necessarily for the entire book, but for a good chunk) He says writing from a child’s perspective allows one to “to see more nakedly some of the things that we’ve elided or erased in our minds because of age.” (From the NYTimes interview). Each comes to the world with their own personal content, but also with a sense of wonder. Anna is amazed by the vast universe of story that can be reached through literacy. Seymour is dazzled by nature and nature books. Konstance is amazed by the things she can see, the places she can visit, the knowledge she can gain in the virtual library on the ship. Zeno also finds a refuge and a world of possibility in his local library. For Omeir, it is the tales his grandfather tells him when they’re rot trapping grouse that capture his imagination. While all the characters have their individual stories, Zeno and Seymour’s stories converge in today’s Lakeport, Idaho; (Doerr and family spend a lot of time in McCall, Idaho, a likely model for Lakeport) Anna and Omeir’s stories converge in the siege of Constantinople in the fifteenth century, and all their stories converge on the connection to that ancient book up through the somewhat near future of Konstance’s experience. Mural at the Turkish Military Museum of the scene outside the walls of Constantinople in 1453 - image from Europe Between East and West It is these connections, these convergences, that provide the structure and core mystery of the book. How does this first century story find its way to fifteenth century Constantinople, to the world of today, and to the future in which Konstance lives? How is it preserved, by whom, and why? Asked about the spark for his focus on the preservation of literature, of culture, Doer said: I’m getting close to 50. And though I still feel and behave like a kid most of the time, my eyesight is fading, I can apparently injure myself while sleeping and my little baby boys are suddenly big hairy-legged job-working car-driving high school kids. I’m realizing that everything—youth, hairlines, memories, civilizations—fades. And the amazing technology that is a printed book seems to be one of the few human inventions that has outlived whole human generations. What a privilege it is to open a book like The Iliad and summon tales that entertained people almost 3,000 years ago. The folks doing most of the preserving are librarians of one sort or another. Each of the characters has a relationship with a librarian, Zeno and Seymour with the librarians in Lakeport, Idaho, Anna with scribes in Constantinople, Omeir with Anna, and Konstance with the AI controller of her ship. I hope that my readers will be reminded that librarians serve as stewards of human memory—without librarians, we lose perhaps our most important windows into the human journey. - from the QBD interviewPart of his growing-up environment was spending a lot of time in libraries as his teacher mom often made use of them as a form of day care for Doerr and his brothers. It’s not like he minded. In fact, he even dedicated the book to librarians. They were a place where I felt completely safe. And just the miracle of them, there's something that - talk about peeling the scales off your eyes. Like, here's the work of all these masters available to you for free. And you can take them home. - from the NPR interviewAs with All the Light…, Doerr found inspirations for the elements of the book in diverse places. It was while researching the walls at Saint Malo for his prior book that he came across repeated references to the millennium-long impenetrability of the walls of Constantinople, and dug into that a lot deeper. He is also interested in how technology induces change. In All the Light… it was radio. Here it is gunpowder and advanced armaments in the 15th century, allowing a new level of violence in the assault on supposedly impervious walls. In the contemporary world it is the internet allowing in both a world of information and a cannonade of lies and manipulation. He sees the future as being driven by artificial intelligence. One of the things that most stuck with me was the portrayal of reading, particularly the reading of material to others, as not only an act of kindness, of affection, but also be a source of healing, and certainly comfort. There are several times when characters read to other characters who are ill, to positive effect. We are a species that relies on stories to make sense of our world, and to inspire, to spark imagination. The story of Aethon inspires all the main characters to dream of more, to dream of better, to dream beyond realistic possibility. Doerr enjoys tossing in a bit of classical reference spice. The ship Argos, of course, recalls Jason and his crew. Zeno is saved by a dog named Athena as Hercules was rescued by the goddess herself. There are plenty more of these. I would keep an eye out for owl imagery, and roses come in for some repeated attention as well. Walls get special attention. The big one in Constantinople is the most obvious, but Konstance has physical walls of her own she needs to get through. Seymour tries breaching a physical wall, as Zeno tries to defend one. The notion of paradise permeates. The title alone refers to an unrealizable fantasy of heaven. It is the heaven that Aethon pursues. For Zeno it is a place where he can be accepted, loved, while being his true self. Seymour is lured by the promise of a sylvan environmentalist camp where he can embrace nature with others of like mind. A development in his beloved woods is called Eden’s Gate (close enough to make one think of Heaven’s Gate). He and his mother live on Arcady Lane. For Anna it is a dream of a better life outside the city. How Doerr weaves all this together is a dazzling work of genius. He will leave you breathless, even as he shows you the construction of his multiple threads, bit by bit by bit. “That’s the real joy,” Doerr said, “the visceral pleasure that comes from taking these stories, these lives, and intersecting them, braiding them.” - from the NY Times interviewMirroring is employed extensively as the experiences of all five characters (and Aethon) repeat in one form or another for them all. The book lists at 640 hardcover pages. Do not take this at face value. In terms of actual words, Cuckoo Land is about the same length as All the Light. There are many pages holding only titles or section headings. There is a lot of white space. That does not make this a fast read. It would still be around 500 pages if one stripped it down to word-count alone. But it is less daunting than the presenting length of 640 pages. Also, Doerr writes in small chunks. You can always use a spare minute or two to drop in on this book and still get through a chapter or five. There is a reason for this. He had hit upon this approach for the most practical of reasons. As a parent, he couldn’t hope to get more than an hour or two of solid work done before having to attend to shuttling the boys to swim practice or some other activity. “I might have stumbled accidentally into that,” he said. - from the NY Times interviewWhile there are dark events that take place in this novel, the overall feel is one of optimism, of possibility, of persistence, and of the availability of beauty and hope to all, if only we can keep alive our connections to each other through time and place, keep alive hopes for a better place, for a better, meaningful life, and continue to dream impossible dreams. If you read nothing else this year, do yourself a favor and read Cloud Cuckoo Land, and be transported (no wings required) to a literary paradise by this book, which I hope will be read as long as there are people able to read. It is a heavenly book, and an immediate classic. “Repository,” he finally says, “you know this word? A resting place. A text—a book—is a resting place for the memories of people who have lived before. A way for the memory to stay fixed after the soul has traveled on.” His eyes open very widely then, as though he peers into a great darkness. “But books, like people, die too. They die in fires or floods or in the mouths of worms or at the whims of tyrants. If they are not safeguarded, they go out of the world. And when a book goes out of the world, the memory dies a second death.” Review posted – October 22, 2021 Publication date – September 28, 2021 I received an ARE of Cloud Cuckoo Land from Simon & Schuster, but I first learned of it from Cai at GR, who passed on my request to someone at S&S, who sent me an ARE and passed on my request to the person responsible for this e-galley, who ok’d that too. Thanks to all, and thanks to NetGalley for providing an e-ARE. ==========In the summer of 2019 GR reduced the allowable review size by 25%, from 20,000 to 15,000 characters. In order to accommodate the text beyond that I usually move it to the comments section directly below. However, in 2021, GR further constrained reviewers by banning external links from comments, so to see the EXTRA STUFF part of this review you will have to continue on to my site, Coots’s Reviews, where the review is posted in its entirety. Coot’s Reviews

  3. 4 out of 5

    Angela M

    3.5 stars rounded up. All the Light We Cannot See is a favorite of mine, so even though I wasn’t sure if this one was going to be for me, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to read this new novel by Anthony Doerr. There were moments while reading it that I was so taken by one character or another and their story. There are several stories, multiple time lines, spanning centuries, in different places, in alternating narratives. Each of them has compelling characters, a compelling story and they a 3.5 stars rounded up. All the Light We Cannot See is a favorite of mine, so even though I wasn’t sure if this one was going to be for me, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to read this new novel by Anthony Doerr. There were moments while reading it that I was so taken by one character or another and their story. There are several stories, multiple time lines, spanning centuries, in different places, in alternating narratives. Each of them has compelling characters, a compelling story and they are connected to an ancient text, excerpts of which are interspersed. It’s imaginative, contains multiple genres and definitely some beautiful writing. I couldn’t help but care about Anna and Omeir whose story in set in the 1400’s during the seige of Constantinople, Zeno, as a young boy in Idaho and later as an old man, Konstance, whose story is in the future on what appears to be a spaceship and others, Seymour whose story is heartbreaking in many ways and set in the same time as Zeno when he is elderly. Zeno was perhaps my favorite character, brave and kind. I was hoping to love it, but there was just too much going on - fantasy, sci-fi, historical fiction, a contemporary themed story of the dangers posed to the environment. While ultimately connected, I felt like I was reading several different stories. All of the connections aren’t revealed fully until the end, and it felt a little contrived. Having said that, I wonder if it’s even a valid criticism since a lot of fiction I suppose one could say is contrived on some level. In the end, though, I just didn’t have that - omg , I love this book feeling. I’m rounding it because there were more things I liked about it than didn’t. It’s definitely different from anything I’ve read in a while. I received an advanced copy of this book from Simon & Schuster through Edelweiss.

  4. 4 out of 5

    jessica

    its been 7 years since ADs massive success, ‘all the light we cannot see,’ so i was immensely interested in seeing how this next novel would follow up to that kind of pressure and expectation. while there is a lot about this that reminded me of my reading experience with ‘all the light we cannot see,’ its very apparent this story feels drastically more ambitious. and i think a story like this has to be. such an ode to the art of storytelling and the profession of storykeeping deserves to be a gra its been 7 years since ADs massive success, ‘all the light we cannot see,’ so i was immensely interested in seeing how this next novel would follow up to that kind of pressure and expectation. while there is a lot about this that reminded me of my reading experience with ‘all the light we cannot see,’ its very apparent this story feels drastically more ambitious. and i think a story like this has to be. such an ode to the art of storytelling and the profession of storykeeping deserves to be a grand gesture. while reading, i was definitely drawn to some POVs more than others, particularly anna and omeirs. it wasnt until the end, when i could see how everyone was connected, that i appreciated the other characters and their chapters. it was such a rewarding feeling witnessing how a simple story could be spread throughout time, impacting individuals and, in turn, impacting others. overall, i think fans of literary fiction and lovers of stories will really value this particular novel. thank you scribner for the ARC!! ↠ 4 stars

  5. 4 out of 5

    Lisa of Troy

    I would like to dedicate this book review to myself (That was a little bit of book humor for those who read the book) :) Cloud Cuckoo Land shifts between five characters: Konstance, Zeno, Seymour, Anna, and Omeir. Many years in the future, Konstance has been living in a space ship called The Argos her entire life when she faces some challenges. In present day, Zeno and Seymour are from Idaho and are grappling with life's losses. In the 1400's, we have Anna and Omeir in Constantinople who are in t I would like to dedicate this book review to myself (That was a little bit of book humor for those who read the book) :) Cloud Cuckoo Land shifts between five characters: Konstance, Zeno, Seymour, Anna, and Omeir. Many years in the future, Konstance has been living in a space ship called The Argos her entire life when she faces some challenges. In present day, Zeno and Seymour are from Idaho and are grappling with life's losses. In the 1400's, we have Anna and Omeir in Constantinople who are in the midst of a battle. My rating is largely driven off the fact that I value an interesting story above all else. This book was definitely interesting. This book was also a confusing mess especially to begin with. Cloud Cuckoo Land shifts between 5 different characters and also non-linear timelines. You might be reading about a character's middle point in life and then switch to another character's life but in a different time period and at the beginning of that character's life. Listen, I'm no stranger to multiple POV's, but usually it is limited to 3 different people max. This book has 5 different people! Then, throw on top of that shifting timelines. If I was the editor, I would have put the book in a chronological order. Often, I would feel like "Oh, this is just getting really interesting" then cut to next character. It would have been better to just stick with one character at a time in my opinion. The beginning of the book read more like a collection of short stories because it was so disjointed. My favorite parts of the books were regarding Konstance, Zeno, and Seymour. The sections regarding Anna and Omeir didn't really have my interest, and it felt a little forced on the reader. Alright enough, Negative Nancy. This book was 600 pages, and it held my attention for the most part for the entire book. I read the physical copy of this, but I think the audiobook will really bring this to the next level. My philosophy is that despite genre if the storytelling is good, I will read it. Well, this book had good storytelling in spades. Overall, looking forward to reading more books by this author and great storytelling (if you can get past the disjointedness). *Thanks, NetGalley, for a free copy of this book in exchange for my fair and honest opinion.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Nilufer Ozmekik

    I know the logic behind watching an entertaining Tv show about nothing. At least it made me laugh out loud and gave me stomach cramps. ( in good way) But reading a long long and long book with multi POVs who are weekly connected with long long long descriptions about doing nothing with the long long long storylines that are stuck in somewhere without direction make me lost lost lost during my reading journey! I’m already too embarrassed to write this unpopular review opening! Couldn’t I find any I know the logic behind watching an entertaining Tv show about nothing. At least it made me laugh out loud and gave me stomach cramps. ( in good way) But reading a long long and long book with multi POVs who are weekly connected with long long long descriptions about doing nothing with the long long long storylines that are stuck in somewhere without direction make me lost lost lost during my reading journey! I’m already too embarrassed to write this unpopular review opening! Couldn’t I find anything interesting, concrete, relatable to hold on about the entire execution? Well, POVs of Anna and Omeir were a little more capturing but how long you can write wordy pages about waiting for the war? I may be unfair about those embellished, detailed depictions the author chose to use. But seriously, I felt like I get lost in the middle of ocean without a life vest and I kept dragging. Because both of the characters’ stories went to nowhere. They were stuck like me and as we reach to the conclusion, I asked myself, “is that all?seriously?” I just checked my book cover for make sure I wasn’t mistakenly reading another book! Nope, that was the right one but not the right book for me! I think after Klara and the Sun, this book was another missing opportunity and unfortunate disappointment for me! I tried so hard to enjoy it. But I’m personally the wrong reader for this novel!

  7. 4 out of 5

    Cheri

    I love that Doerr dedicated this to “the librarians then, now, and in the years to come.” Set in three distinct time frames, the past - 1453, the present, and decades in the future, this follows the stories of those living during those times, along with a belief in, and hope for, the future. The ways their stories are connected, as well as the story that connects them. This begins, briefly, with the story set in the future, the story of Konstance, a fourteen-year-old girl living on an interstella I love that Doerr dedicated this to “the librarians then, now, and in the years to come.” Set in three distinct time frames, the past - 1453, the present, and decades in the future, this follows the stories of those living during those times, along with a belief in, and hope for, the future. The ways their stories are connected, as well as the story that connects them. This begins, briefly, with the story set in the future, the story of Konstance, a fourteen-year-old girl living on an interstellar ship and Sybil, the ship’s overseeing voice reminding her that it is late, and that she must eat, but Sybil is immersed in reading Antonius Diogenes Cloud Cuckoo Land, envisioning the story as she continues to read, ignoring Sybil’s demands. Her father had shared the story with her over time, and Konstance finds comfort in reflecting on their shared connection, but searches for more, connecting piece by piece. In the present the story is set in Idaho, and centers around Zeno, in his 80’s, and Seymour, a teenager whose love of an owl changes how he sees the world, the cavalier destruction of the planet and those who make it their home. Seymour finds some solace in Diogenes Cloud Cuckoo Land, and it becomes a source of fuel for his fire. At the library, Zeno is working with a group of young children for a production of Cloud Cuckoo Land. In the process, they learn the story of Aethon, his wish to become a bird in order to fly to Cloud Cuckoo Land, and live in paradise. In the past, Anna and Omeir live different lives, one living inside the city wall of Constantinople, one on the outside. Anna lived inside the convent, embroidering robes for priests during the day. Having been taught to read, she finds a collection of old books in an abandoned priory, among them the transcript of Cloud Cuckoo Land, which she takes with her when she takes flight from the monastery. She meets Omeir, who is also fleeing. A bond forms between them, they are both young, and over time he will continue to protect her, as well as the transcript. To borrow from Norman Maclean, ’eventually, all things merge into one’, and while a river doesn’t run through this, there is that sense of the flow, the timelessness, and the eternal words beneath it all. Pub Date: 28 Sep 2021 Many thanks for the ARC provided by Scribner

  8. 4 out of 5

    Petrik

    ARC provided by Goodreads & the publisher—Scribner—in exchange for an honest review. 3.5/5 stars Cloud Cuckoo Land is more ambitious and complex than All the Light We Cannot See in every possible way. It’s hard not to compare Doerr’s newest book to his previous immensely successful work: All the Light We Cannot See. And if I’m not mistaken, Cloud Cuckoo Land is the first novel that Doerr published since the release of All the Light We Cannot See; that’s seven years ago. I enjoyed All the Light We C ARC provided by Goodreads & the publisher—Scribner—in exchange for an honest review. 3.5/5 stars Cloud Cuckoo Land is more ambitious and complex than All the Light We Cannot See in every possible way. It’s hard not to compare Doerr’s newest book to his previous immensely successful work: All the Light We Cannot See. And if I’m not mistaken, Cloud Cuckoo Land is the first novel that Doerr published since the release of All the Light We Cannot See; that’s seven years ago. I enjoyed All the Light We Cannot See, but honestly speaking, despite its insane success and praises, I never felt inclined to give Doerr’s work another try. But the premise and dedication just captured my attention so much, and now that I’ve read it, I am pretty sure that Doerr’s newest work, Cloud Cuckoo Land, will be another beloved bestseller worldwide. “The world we’re handing our kids brims with challenges: climate instability, pandemics, disinformation. I wanted this novel to reflect those anxieties, but also offer meaningful hope, so I tried to create a tapestry of times and places that reflecs our interconnectedness—with other species, with each other, with the ones who lived before us, and the ones who will be here after we’re gone.”—Anthony Doerr The passage above by Doerr himself has clearly states what the themes of the book are about. In addition to that, Cloud Cuckoo Land is dedicated to the librarians then, now, and in the years to come. It’s an apt dedication; Cloud Cuckoo Land is at its core a book about connections. It shows how an action or a book could affect the lives of people across multiple generations. It also shows how we remain connected with one another even long after we’re gone. And told through five main POV characters, I believe the text in Cloud Cuckoo Land will affect many future readers of this book. “Repository… you know this word? A resting place. A text—a book—is a resting placefor the memories of people who have lived before. A way for the memory to stay fixed after the soul has traveled on.” I loved the concept, premise, and messages of the book, but unfortunately, I will have to say that I do have mixed feelings regarding the characters and writings. As I said, Cloud Cuckoo Land is told through the perspective of five characters: Anna, Omeir, Seymour, Zeno, and Konstance. Out of all of these, my favorites were Omeir’s and Zeno’s storyline; I felt that they were the most engaging. I did, however, struggled with getting interested in Anna’s and Seymour’s storyline. It shouldn’t be that way, especially for Anna because Anna and Omeir reminded me of Marie and Werner from All the Light We Cannot See. But it did happen, and I think I can pinpoint this to the way the prose is delivered. “Each sign signifies a sound, and to link sounds is to form words, and to link words is to construct worlds.” Doerr writes beautifully, and in this ambitious and complex novel, I wish the chapters—not all of them—were longer. With five POV characters that jump back and forth in time, things can get pretty confusing at times. But personally, my biggest issue with Cloud Cuckoo Land is that I found the POV chapters changing too quickly to my liking before I even get invested in the said character’s story. This was the same in All the Light We Cannot See; each chapter was so short, but in that novel, we have only two characters to follow. Here, we have five POV characters, with such short chapters, it was hard for me to connect with the characters. Also, similar to the prose in All the Light We Cannot See, there’s a lot of metaphors used that I couldn’t fully click with; they took me out of Doerr’s beautiful writing rather than engrossed me. “Stranger, whoever you are, open this to learn what will amaze you.” I did struggle quite a lot reading through the middle section of Cloud Cuckoo Land, and I won’t lie that I’ve thought of putting it down for good several times. But just like the strong first quarter, the final 20% of Cloud Cuckoo Land delivered a strong conclusion. Although I liked it, I’m confident that many readers will love it more than I did. You can pre-order the book from: Amazon US | Book Depository (Free shipping) You can find this and the rest of my reviews at Novel Notions | I also have a Booktube channel Special thanks to my Patrons on Patreon for giving me extra support towards my passion for reading and reviewing! My Patrons: Alfred, Alya, Annabeth, Ben, Blaise, Devin, Diana, Dylan, Edward, Ellen, Gary, Hamad, Helen, Jimmy Nutts, Joie, Luis, Lufi, Melinda, Mike, Miracle, Nicholas, Sarah, Sarah, Seth, Shaad, Summer, Wendy, Wick, Zoe.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Jasmine

    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. Konstance who is living on an interstellar ship set in the not-too-distant future. Zeno and Seymour whose lives collide on a fateful day in present day Idaho. Omeir an 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. Konstance who is living on an interstellar ship set in the not-too-distant future. Zeno and Seymour whose lives collide on a fateful day in present day Idaho. Omeir and Anna whose lives intersect during the siege of Constantinople in 1453. There’s also a myth (completely invented by the author) that connects these characters. Truly, I loved everything about this novel. I loved that there was a smattering of Ancient Greek language throughout the book. It’s very accessible, a translation follows every instance of it. There are twenty-four sections in this book that go along with the Greek alphabet, alpha to omega. I haven’t read All the Light We Cannot See, so I’ll need to correct that oversight immediately. Thank you to Netgalley and Scribner/Simon & Schuster Canada for the ARC in exchange for my honest opinions. I also won a printed copy in a giveaway from Simon & Schuster Canada

  10. 4 out of 5

    Tina

    This is a Historical Fiction/Science Fiction/Fantasy. I have to say I did not know if this would be mine kind of book because fantasy/science fiction is hit or miss for me, but I loved this author's other book "All the Light We Cannot See". I have to say this book has several different timelines and several characters. It took me about 100 pages into this book before I got pulled into this book. There are some of the characters I liked more then others and some of the timelines took me longer to This is a Historical Fiction/Science Fiction/Fantasy. I have to say I did not know if this would be mine kind of book because fantasy/science fiction is hit or miss for me, but I loved this author's other book "All the Light We Cannot See". I have to say this book has several different timelines and several characters. It took me about 100 pages into this book before I got pulled into this book. There are some of the characters I liked more then others and some of the timelines took me longer to get into. The ending was so very good, and the ending pulled everything together so nicely. This book made me think about so many things, and I loved where this book went. This is not going to be the book for everyone, and I think the writing style this author as will not be for everyone. I found just like All the Light We Cannot See there are things that comes out early in the book that will not make a lot of sense until closer to the ending when everything comes together. I was kindly provided an e-copy of this book by the publisher (Scribner) or author (Anthony Doerr) via NetGalley, so I can give an honest review about how I feel about this book. I want to send a big Thank you to them for that. Note: I also won a ARC of this book for a Goodreads Giveaway.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Liz

    Some books I’ll request just because of an author. I don’t even bother reading the description. That was the case when I requested Cloud Cuckoo Land, because of my love of All The Light We Cannot See. So, I was a bit surprised when I started this book and discovered its convoluted premise. It’s got three different story lines, from three different centuries, including the future, and three different places, including an interstellar starship. There are five main characters, two each in the past Some books I’ll request just because of an author. I don’t even bother reading the description. That was the case when I requested Cloud Cuckoo Land, because of my love of All The Light We Cannot See. So, I was a bit surprised when I started this book and discovered its convoluted premise. It’s got three different story lines, from three different centuries, including the future, and three different places, including an interstellar starship. There are five main characters, two each in the past and present, and one in the future. The synopsis can give you a more complete outline. If you want stories that make sense and move in a linear fashion, this is not for you. This was more like reading multiple short stories that had been cut up and interspersed between each other. Yet… while normally this would have irritated me to no end, I found myself drawn in. I wanted to know what was going to happen to each of them - Anna, Konstance, Zeno, Seymour, Omeir. To be honest, it surprised me to no end. It’s beautifully written with characters that felt real. I could easily envision each scene taking place. What binds it all together is a weird, historical Greek story called Cloud Cuckoo Land, written by Antonios Diogenes that envisions a shepherd trying to get to a mythical city in the sky. It’s described as “part fairy tale, part fool’s errand, part science-fiction, part utopian satire”. The shepherd is a model of perseverance and the characters of this book, in turn, are the same. Each is faced with hardships but each continues to put one foot in front of the other. It’s a message of hope. It reminds us of the power of a good story to give meaning to our lives. You might be put off by the sheer length of the book, 640 pages, but it actually was a quick read. My thanks to Netgalley and Scribner for an advance copy of this book.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Marieke du Pré

    All the Light We Cannot See was beautiful, but this excels the Pulitzer Prize-winning book by far! It’s insane, amazing, gorgeous, ingenious; I almost have no words. A journey through centuries for everyone who loves libraries and reading, who wants to learn, wants to dream, and wants stories to be shared time and again. This story is so grand, and still so small and so incredibly personal; I loved every page. 

Those beautiful children, who all feel different: meet Anna, who wants to learn to r All the Light We Cannot See was beautiful, but this excels the Pulitzer Prize-winning book by far! It’s insane, amazing, gorgeous, ingenious; I almost have no words. A journey through centuries for everyone who loves libraries and reading, who wants to learn, wants to dream, and wants stories to be shared time and again. This story is so grand, and still so small and so incredibly personal; I loved every page. 

Those beautiful children, who all feel different: meet Anna, who wants to learn to read so badly, meet Omeir, sweet and brave, born with a cleft lip, who cares so much for his oxen Tree and Moonlight, meet Zeno, who’s afraid of his own identity, meet Seymour, who loves Trustyfriend more than anything in the world, and meet Konstance, who seems to be all alone up in space. Five POVs in three different times. And in between fragments about Aethon who wants to be a bird because he’s searching for the perfect world: cloud cuckoo land.

I got hooked from the first page, although all those POVs and different times felt a little chaotic at first. It’s like reading five stories within one, including flashbacks. Sometimes I had to stop for a moment to remember what happened before in that specific timeline. It didn’t take long, though; Anthony Doerr’s writing is so enthralling and captivating that I soon dived in again, wanting to read more, more, more. I wanted to be with Anna, then with Omeir, I wanted to go back to Anna, but I also wanted to keep reading about Zeno and Seymour, and desperately about Omeir, I wanted to know badly what Konstance was doing up in space, and then I longed to be back with Zeno or Seymour, or both, and with Anna and Omeir as well, but I didn’t want to leave Konstance, so I kept reading frantically, and ..., and ...

It’s clear I adored this book, right? That I urge you to read this story? That I want to scream and shout about it? And you know what? I wrote this review when I had only read 15% of the story ... So, that early, I knew it would be a real gem! When you can write like this, you deserve a second Pulitzer Prize!

I received an ARC from Simon & Schuster (Scribner) and Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jaidee

    4 " a more measured admiration and affection" stars !! Thanks to Netgalley, the author and Simon & Schuster Canada for an advanced e-copy. This will be released September 2021. I am providing an honest review. Like hundreds of thousands perhaps millions of readers I was mesmerized and amazed by All the Light We Cannot See and that was rated a full five stars (also my 5th favorite read of 2017). You can imagine how excited I was to receive an e-copy in advance of publication and I dove right in o 4 " a more measured admiration and affection" stars !! Thanks to Netgalley, the author and Simon & Schuster Canada for an advanced e-copy. This will be released September 2021. I am providing an honest review. Like hundreds of thousands perhaps millions of readers I was mesmerized and amazed by All the Light We Cannot See and that was rated a full five stars (also my 5th favorite read of 2017). You can imagine how excited I was to receive an e-copy in advance of publication and I dove right in on receipt. This is an excellent, imaginative and fanciful tale that involves the lives of children doing the best they can to survive with neglect, disability, disinterested adults, a dying earth. We are taken by the hand to ancient greek myths, the siege of Constantinople, the Korean War, present day Idaho and the near future in outer space. The narratives weave back and forth like the fibers of a Persian carpet. Mr. Doerr moves effortlessly and skillfully through myth, historical fiction, fantasy, drama and even romance. The prose is simple but colorful and at times quite beautiful. His message and morals are clear and this book is (mostly and generally) a delight to read. I need to be honest though there were some subjective difficulties that I had with this read. The psychologies of the characters are rather superficial, at times the prose was repetitive and at times I felt that this was a bit too glib, a bit too convenient and moderately over-processed. These challenges were at the very lower end of worrisome and did not overly detract from the magic that is created here. Overall I feel that this was a 3.5 star read but due to the frequency of my tears and the way my heart often swelled I know that I cannot rate this lower than an stellar 4 stars. I very much look forward to seeing what elixir Mr. Doerr cooks up next.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Elyse Walters

    Ebook-synced-audio Well….. When I first saw this book on Netgalley - available to early readers - (for dedicated readers to diligently read it carefully, then leave us an honest - semi-informative review)…. …..positive, beautiful ones and less enchanting but also beautifully negatively valuable….. I ran!! Bolted. “OUT OF HERE”, I said to myself. “I didn’t want my joy of reading tampered with. I didn’t want to fail and fall flat on my face”. Basically, I didn’t trust my ability to comprehend this bo Ebook-synced-audio Well….. When I first saw this book on Netgalley - available to early readers - (for dedicated readers to diligently read it carefully, then leave us an honest - semi-informative review)…. …..positive, beautiful ones and less enchanting but also beautifully negatively valuable….. I ran!! Bolted. “OUT OF HERE”, I said to myself. “I didn’t want my joy of reading tampered with. I didn’t want to fail and fall flat on my face”. Basically, I didn’t trust my ability to comprehend this book thoroughly—so I didn’t want the responsibility of introducing a new novel. Time went by…. still in the newly release stages …. I changed my mind. Once I did, I went all out : purchased both the e-book and audiobook. I was going to give it my all-read it, work it, understand, and be blown away by it! Why not? I’m able! I failed on all accounts except for one: I finished it. I liked the premise and purpose from which this book was born (listen to a few YouTubes/ interviews by Anthony Doerr) …. As for my personal experience reading/ listening —I felt like I was in a classroom— waiting for the bell to ring— so I could be excused. So in closing I will introduce a new vocabulary word I recently learned that is very fitting to my experience of reading this book: Chosisme: …..definition: “A literary style which focuses on description of objects, not on interpretation, plot, characterization, etc.” By the way….(for anyone interested)…. ….now that I am not writing reviews FOR ANYONE—no strings attached — no exchanges — I’m totally happier!!! 🥳.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Mary Keane

    I’m in awe. This book is a triumph. I’d give ten stars if I could.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jen (semi-hiatus)

    Behind the scenes at the publishing house: An intern is rushing around the office between her fifth and sixth coffee run of the day and is handed drafts of three different books. She’s furiously typing Christina’s order of a venti nonfat latte with 3 pumps of sugar-free cinnamon dolce into her Starbucks app when she runs straight into a colleague. Papers go flying everywhere. She turns bright red, drops to the floor, and Ben, ever so helpful, especially for having just been slammed into before he Behind the scenes at the publishing house: An intern is rushing around the office between her fifth and sixth coffee run of the day and is handed drafts of three different books. She’s furiously typing Christina’s order of a venti nonfat latte with 3 pumps of sugar-free cinnamon dolce into her Starbucks app when she runs straight into a colleague. Papers go flying everywhere. She turns bright red, drops to the floor, and Ben, ever so helpful, especially for having just been slammed into before he has gotten *his* coffee, helps her scoop them up into some semblance of an orderly pile. Just then, the editor to whom the drafts are to be delivered rounds the corner. Too flustered to say anything, the intern simply hands over the pile of nonsensically sorted chapters. The editor, knowing the author is the proud owner of a Pulitzer, declares this to be groundbreaking and genius. Non-linear timelines and multiple POVs are so in right now! And thus Cloud Cuckoo Land is born. Clearly, I’m being a bit (okay, more than a bit) facetious here, but also… I did not enjoy the formatting of this at all. It jumped around far too much for my liking (we follow 5 characters, two of whom have both past and present chapters, so it’s 7 timelines to keep track of) and I felt some of the storylines were far stronger than others. (I want to read a whole book about Konstance!) While I appreciate what Doerr was doing with tying humanity together despite vast differences in time, place, and circumstances, I still don’t know if it made all of the timelines worth it. I also felt that one timeline left me with more questions than answers. This is a hefty book, and it really could have used some editing. Some though I feel will argue that the editing should come more in the form of trimming down the prose rather than losing characters. So let’s get to the prose then, shall we… The writing was beautiful and so descriptive. Very, veeeery descriptive. There are pages and pages of detailed setting description before something actually happens, so for those who know themselves as readers and who know they do not like that type of thing, this is my warning to you. And for those who are world builders and love beautiful descriptions, it is my enticement. This is a book you will really have to immerse yourself in, and for me, the writing did help to do that. I quite enjoyed it, but can see why others are having a very hard time with it. Lastly, I have really mixed feelings about Seymour and his portrayal. On the one hand, it’s wonderful to see representation of neurodiverse characters. On the other, I’m pretty deeply uncomfortable with some of the choices here. He is introduced to us as he walks into a library full of children, toting a bomb in his backpack… For some, the character arc and the book’s overall message will justify this. For me, I was greatly disheartened to see yet another semi-villainous portrayal of someone with a cognitive difference or mental illness, regardless of whether or not there is redemption. It’s just not a message that I think needs to be out there right now, especially from this “calibre” of literature which will be reaching quite a wide audience. I’m really quite stumped as to how to rate this. There were things I loved and I could see flashes of genius in it. I enjoyed the writing and will be reading other books by the author. But I also just had a lot of problems with it, structurally, and otherwise. Many thanks to NetGalley and Scribner for an advance copy of this title for review.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Violet wells

    In life we often find ourselves enjoying something while simultaneously questioning the integrity of our enjoyment. It happens with movies, with pop songs and sometimes with the misfortunes of friends. It happened to me with this book. Not only did I enjoy All the Light I also took it seriously as a work of literature (as did the Pulitzer Prize judges) even though it bothered me that at the time lots of people who loved the book also loved and compared it with The Nightingale, a novel with no li In life we often find ourselves enjoying something while simultaneously questioning the integrity of our enjoyment. It happens with movies, with pop songs and sometimes with the misfortunes of friends. It happened to me with this book. Not only did I enjoy All the Light I also took it seriously as a work of literature (as did the Pulitzer Prize judges) even though it bothered me that at the time lots of people who loved the book also loved and compared it with The Nightingale, a novel with no literary merit. I felt afterwards like maybe Doerr had tricked me. This feeling was exacerbated when I read one of his earlier novels. Essentially Doerr has a Hollywood sensibility. He wants to highlight the wonder of life; he wants us to feel hope in our species; he wants to make a fairy tale of life. But unlike say Charles Dickens who brilliantly gave us the characters and institutions that brutalise life Doerr sprinkles fairy dust over all the stuff that makes existence difficult. And he has a simple formula for getting us to like his characters - he deploys as his protagonists children with an alienating disability, the equivalent of a marketing man finding a cute puppy to sell his product. His lead characters tend to have nothing but goodness in them. In other words they're one dimensional. And he chooses crowd pleasing themes. So yes, I did enjoy reading this and I respect Anthony Doerr for asking us to be kinder in our interactions with people and the planet but it lacked nuance and offered very little intellectual nourishment.

  18. 4 out of 5

    L.A.

    4.5**** Anthony Doerr captured 3 time periods weaving them into a connection with the Greek Myth Aethon. Each time period builds on the other while the characters are not alike and each on a different journey, you will be amazed how much we are all the same. There is an eeriness when you realize how will we be perceived when we are gone by those that will exist after. I'm not a fan of Sci-fi or Greek Mythology, but after reading several sections I became mesmerized where it would connect. Notable 4.5**** Anthony Doerr captured 3 time periods weaving them into a connection with the Greek Myth Aethon. Each time period builds on the other while the characters are not alike and each on a different journey, you will be amazed how much we are all the same. There is an eeriness when you realize how will we be perceived when we are gone by those that will exist after. I'm not a fan of Sci-fi or Greek Mythology, but after reading several sections I became mesmerized where it would connect. Notable, each chapter is actually 24 sections in the Greek Alphabet...Alpha to Omega..how befitting when there is a beginning and the end. I must say too "All the Light We Cannot See" by Anthony Doerr is one of my favorites to recommend if you haven't read it. It enticed me to read this one. Totally different books, but delivery of them both are amazing. **Aethon is from 4th Century BC Greek Playwright Aristophanes... a whimsical play** meaning curiosity, foolish behavior...a humorous title but derived from the play in what they should call the city of Sparta that would make Hercules proud "Cloud Cuckoo Land". With 3 time periods, 1453, 15th Century Constantinople under siege is Anna, an orphan, living under the roof of women destined and tied to sewing the robes of priest all day. Finding a library book on the character Aethon, she reads and imagines what it would be like to be a bird and fly to paradise. She finds a friend in a village boy, Omeir...their relationship is poetic. Present day Idaho, 5 children under the direction of Zeno in a play Aethon in the library....their lives will soon connect with a disturbed teen, Seymour, who plants a bomb in the library...this is an intense relationship between Zeno & Seymour. The final time period is on a futuristic spaceship with young Konstance studying the remnants of the story Aethon. I was not prepared for the ending and final twist of lives and how we are all connected, while watching a different clock. When a book like this stops you in your tracks...and be prepared a tad to get to that point 😉 you will ponder the past, present and future with a new perspective. This is entitled to an award for a unexpected journey we are all on and how our lives connect with people in the 15th century and to what the future beholds. Good job, Anthony Doerr! Alpha to Omega.... Cheers to all time periods of Libraries and librarians!! Thank you NetGalley and Simon & Schuster for this remarkable ARC in exchange for my honest opinion.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Jenna

    "And the tale I have to tell is so ludicrous, so incredible, that you’ll never believe a word of it, and yet... it’s true." 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 beli "And the tale I have to tell is so ludicrous, so incredible, that you’ll never believe a word of it, and yet... it’s true." 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. This is one of my favourite books this year and I've little doubt it will be a Goodreads Choice Award for 2021 nominee..... and deserves to win. "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?”

  20. 5 out of 5

    Faith

    Reading this book required a fair bit of work and a lot of note-taking. The book jumped around among characters, places and time periods. Especially in the beginning of the book, I needed a chart. The various characters are linked by the love of libraries and books, particularly “Cloud Cuckoo Land” which is an ancient codex written by Antonius Diogenes. It describes a city in the clouds between earth and heaven. “Part fairy tale, part fool’s errand, part science-fiction, part utopian satire” it Reading this book required a fair bit of work and a lot of note-taking. The book jumped around among characters, places and time periods. Especially in the beginning of the book, I needed a chart. The various characters are linked by the love of libraries and books, particularly “Cloud Cuckoo Land” which is an ancient codex written by Antonius Diogenes. It describes a city in the clouds between earth and heaven. “Part fairy tale, part fool’s errand, part science-fiction, part utopian satire” it tells the story of Aethon. Konstance, in the future, is on a spaceship with her family on a very long voyage to a new planet. She learned about Cloud Cuckoo Land from her father. In 2020, Zeno Ninis and Seymour Stuhlman meet at the Lakeport, Idaho Public Library, where Zeno is directing a group of school children in a dramatization of Cloud Cuckoo Land. Anna and Omeir meet during the siege of Constantinople in the 1400s. Anna has a copy of Cloud Cuckoo Land. Each of these characters has an interesting story, although I found parts of the Konstance and Seymour stories a little confusing because I don’t really understand virtual reality. My favorite parts of the book were about Zeno who was orphaned, captured during the Korean War and taught himself how to translate ancient literature. The writing held my interest throughout as it gradually revealed the connections between the characters. This book was strange and different and I enjoyed it. Most of the audiobook was narrated by Marin Ireland. Simon Jones narrated the excerpts from Cloud Cuckoo Land. Each did an excellent job. 4.5 stars I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader

    Anthony Doerr’s newest novel is Cloud Cuckoo Land, and what a unique story it is. I’m not sure I can put my finger on exactly what genre it belongs to, so I’ll say it’s genre-spanning because it really is, and in that way, it keeps you guessing throughout the story- or storylines, because there are a few storylines running and how they tie together is eventually revealed at the conclusion of the story. My favorite parts of the story were about Anna and Omeir living in Constantinople in the 1400s. Anthony Doerr’s newest novel is Cloud Cuckoo Land, and what a unique story it is. I’m not sure I can put my finger on exactly what genre it belongs to, so I’ll say it’s genre-spanning because it really is, and in that way, it keeps you guessing throughout the story- or storylines, because there are a few storylines running and how they tie together is eventually revealed at the conclusion of the story. My favorite parts of the story were about Anna and Omeir living in Constantinople in the 1400s. What a fascinating time to read about with characters to champion. I also really loved Zeno, growing up in Idaho, and later in his 80s. I loved his heart and goodness. There’s also a storyline about Konstance living on a spaceship in the future. Cloud Cuckoo Land is very different, while boldly and lovingly told. The writing is indulgent. I look forward to finally reading All the Light We Cannot See and more from Doerr. I received a gifted copy. Many of my reviews can also be found on my blog: www.jennifertarheelreader.com and instagram: www.instagram.com/tarheelreader

  22. 4 out of 5

    Susan's Reviews

    I started listening to the audiobook and decided after the second CD disc to put it aside. My mind keeps wandering and the story is not engaging my interest, unfortunately. I tore a tendon in my shoulder and I developed bursitis as well while I was moving furniture around during my emergency bathroom repair. I see so many sterling reviews for this one, but I'm just too sore and cranky, and my brain is too foggy right now to appreciate magical realism at its finest, I suppose. I started listening to the audiobook and decided after the second CD disc to put it aside. My mind keeps wandering and the story is not engaging my interest, unfortunately. I tore a tendon in my shoulder and I developed bursitis as well while I was moving furniture around during my emergency bathroom repair. I see so many sterling reviews for this one, but I'm just too sore and cranky, and my brain is too foggy right now to appreciate magical realism at its finest, I suppose.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Susan Meissner

    This was one of those novels that is so richly written, so cleverly constructed, so impactful that you can’t stop reading and yet you dread the thought of finishing. But of course since you can’t stop reading it, the end comes, and alas it is the end. The experience is over and you can never read it again for the first time. I would give it all the stars…

  24. 5 out of 5

    Tammy

    Initially, this novel seems as if it is several disjointed stories but hang in there and rest assured that eventually it all falls together. And, I do mean eventually. This is a behemoth of a book. Be prepared to whiz around between the distant past, the present, and the near future. I think Doerr, within its pages, describes this book best. It is “…part fairytale, part fool’s errand, part science fiction, part utopian satire…” Frankly, I was dazzled.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Sue

    Anthony Doerr is an author I have come to admire and this latest of his novels did not disappoint. The title is the central premise, a recently discovered manuscript of a tale by an ancient Greek writer, Antonius Diogenes. This fantastic and mythical tale becomes a background for Doerr’s story of three episodes in human history. He follows the lives of Anna and Omeir, who live in the 15th century; Zeno and Seymour who live in contemporary times; and Konstance who lives in the future. The link: t Anthony Doerr is an author I have come to admire and this latest of his novels did not disappoint. The title is the central premise, a recently discovered manuscript of a tale by an ancient Greek writer, Antonius Diogenes. This fantastic and mythical tale becomes a background for Doerr’s story of three episodes in human history. He follows the lives of Anna and Omeir, who live in the 15th century; Zeno and Seymour who live in contemporary times; and Konstance who lives in the future. The link: the power of the story, the book, the word. And when available, the wonder of books gathered together, into a library, whether an ancient room of papyrus scrolls, a brick and mortar 20th century version or a possible virtual library of the future. The Greek tale, of Aethon who wishes to meet the gods in Cloud Cuckoo Land, goes through torments to get there, and…what… The folios have become very damaged over the centuries but so many who happened upon them valued the words and continued the chain, passing the story on. The ending of the myth, well that is open to interpretation. While some who do not enjoy divided storylines might not appreciate Cloud Cuckoo Land, there is so much here to enjoy: a look at the personal work of translating and the joy of success which can help offset some of life’s other hardships, a fascinating look at life in Constantinople on the eve of its downfall, a projected future for humans fueled by climate crisis. And as always with Doerr, there are episodes of magical prose. A 4.5* rating due to some perceived slowness to start, but rounded up. A copy of this book was provided by the publisher through NetGalley in return for an honest review.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Ron Charles

    Librarians and bookworms throughout time are the heroes of Anthony Doerr’s exceedingly busy new novel, “Cloud Cuckoo Land.” Think of it as a triptych love letter to the millions of readers who made his previous novel, the Pulitzer Prize-winning “All the Light We Cannot See,” a phenomenal bestseller. Once again, Doerr presents young people caught in the fires of war, but his stage this time around is far vaster than the plight of two children during World War II. “Cloud Cuckoo Land” struts across Librarians and bookworms throughout time are the heroes of Anthony Doerr’s exceedingly busy new novel, “Cloud Cuckoo Land.” Think of it as a triptych love letter to the millions of readers who made his previous novel, the Pulitzer Prize-winning “All the Light We Cannot See,” a phenomenal bestseller. Once again, Doerr presents young people caught in the fires of war, but his stage this time around is far vaster than the plight of two children during World War II. “Cloud Cuckoo Land” struts across millennia. Wear comfortable shoes and remember to stay hydrated. This is a big novel of people thinking big thoughts. The earliest action takes place in the mid-15th century when Omeir, an ostracized boy with a cleft palate, is conscripted into the Ottoman army and becomes a reluctant witness to one of history’s most consequential battles. The new sultan is marching on Constantinople with a set of mighty cannons that may allow him to breach the city’s ancient walls. (Spoiler alert: He does.) After cleaning army latrines, Omeir “wonders at the mystery of how one god can manage the thoughts and terrors of so many.” Meanwhile, as preparation for that military assault grinds on, an orphan named Anna works at an embroidery house inside Constantinople. Like the young oxherd outside the city walls, she considers profound questions, too, like “How do men convince themselves that others must die so they might live?” Desperate to raise money to heal her sickly sister, Anna starts plucking ancient manuscripts from an abandoned priory at the edge of the city and selling them to well-heeled Italian book collectors. They work for a pre-Google nobleman who dreams of erecting “a library to. . . . To read the rest of this review, go to The Washington Post: https://www.washingtonpost.com/entert...

  27. 4 out of 5

    Kasa Cotugno

    Here is one of those times when I feel so fortunate to get my hands on an early read of what promises to be THE book of the fall. Anthony Doerr has such a well honed reputation, and already has one beloved masterpiece under his belt, but he'll have to make room on his shelves for more awards because he's not done yet. Cloud Cuckoo Land is a title I would not usually gravitate towards, nor is the subject matter -- three disparate eras, all connected by an ancient Greek text with an imperfect prov Here is one of those times when I feel so fortunate to get my hands on an early read of what promises to be THE book of the fall. Anthony Doerr has such a well honed reputation, and already has one beloved masterpiece under his belt, but he'll have to make room on his shelves for more awards because he's not done yet. Cloud Cuckoo Land is a title I would not usually gravitate towards, nor is the subject matter -- three disparate eras, all connected by an ancient Greek text with an imperfect provenance and folios out of order and incomplete. And yet, the life of a fifteenth century Bosnian farmer's and a young orphan girl's slavish experience in a Constantinople embroidery factory kept me enraptured with each page. Then there is an event in a library in Idaho in 2020. Finally, a young girl and her family in a spaceship headed to a planet simulating earth that won't be reached for generations into the future. Each of these segments, told contemporaneously, seems to carry no connectivity, and yet in conclusion they mesh perfectly. This is not just a work of art but also a wakeup call. And worth every minute you spend reading it. Kudos.

  28. 4 out of 5

    emma

    one thing i can promise: if there's a bandwagon, i'll be on it one thing i can promise: if there's a bandwagon, i'll be on it

  29. 4 out of 5

    Maxwell

    This sounds like a David Mitchell novel! I'm intrigued. I've been waiting for a new Anthony Doerr book for years now, as we all have been I'm sure :) This sounds like a David Mitchell novel! I'm intrigued. I've been waiting for a new Anthony Doerr book for years now, as we all have been I'm sure :)

  30. 4 out of 5

    La Crosse County Library

    I read Anthony Doerr's first book, All the Light We Cannot See (2014) and remember being utterly entranced by the story, how well Doerr explored the inner lives of his characters through the traumatizing experience of WWII. Two kids from opposing sides finding each other and realizing the other's inherent humanity, made complicated by the ongoing conflict and violence. It wasn't exactly black and white, I'm the good guy you're the bad guy. Staying true to the theme of coming-of-age stories in th I read Anthony Doerr's first book, All the Light We Cannot See (2014) and remember being utterly entranced by the story, how well Doerr explored the inner lives of his characters through the traumatizing experience of WWII. Two kids from opposing sides finding each other and realizing the other's inherent humanity, made complicated by the ongoing conflict and violence. It wasn't exactly black and white, I'm the good guy you're the bad guy. Staying true to the theme of coming-of-age stories in the midst of a crisis, Cloud Cuckoo Land (2021) also explores five characters and the events that shaped them into the adults they became. Anna is an orphan living in 1450's Constantinople with her sister, Maria, in a house of women who make their living by embroidering the robes of priests. Omeir is a boy born with a cleft in his lip, one that people see as marking someone demonic and not human. As a result, his family is chased to the periphery of society from their home village. One day, Omeir is conscripted into the Ottoman army, on the way to capture the city of Constantinople, known as the Queen of Cities. His two oxen, Moonlight and Tree, are also pressed into service to haul goods in the enormous supply train. Meanwhile, restless Anna learns to read at the hands of an old tutor, climbing towers to salvage old books from an abandoned monastery at the edge of the city to make extra money. You see, Maria is ill and blessings require extra coin. She ignores the rumors of impending doom from the sultan’s army, camped close to the walls. A few more character perspectives are opened from the 1950s to the present day (2020) and future. Zeno is a Korean war vet who discovers a passion for translating Ancient Greek works to English. This is where the fictional play Cloud Cuckoo Land comes from, based on real ancient Greek comedic plays by Aristophanes and Diogenes. In it, a shepherd named Aethon is searching for Cloud Cuckoo Land, a mythical city in the sky, where broth is said to run in a river and there’s no hunger or suffering. In other words, he’s searching for greener pastures (pun intended). He doesn’t give up no matter the setbacks of being turned first into a donkey, then a fish, then a crow. Once Zeno finishes his translations of the play (modern day 2020) he helps put together a mini stage production for the local library kids. On the day of the rehearsal, Seymour, a troubled young man, sneaks in with bombs and a gun. Soon Zeno and the kids realize the extent of the danger they are in, but they adopt a the show must go on approach. So, we got the past and the present. And now for the future. Doerr also introduces us to the perspective of 13-year-old Konstance, living on an interstellar ship journeying to a new planet. Not unlike Anna, she’s a restlessly curious child who pushes at the boundaries of her world. One day, there’s an outbreak of illness and everyone’s shut in their separate compartments, COVID-19-style. It is in an isolated ship vault where she discovers that something is not quite right. How will all their stories end? That is the beauty of Cloud Cuckoo Land. The characters each playing Aethon in their own right, producing a beautiful intersection with the underlying story. The only reason I gave it four stars instead of five was the fact that the jumping back in forth between times got to be a bit disorienting at times. But Doerr delivers a masterpiece of storytelling here, and that’s what matters (even if you have to be a bit patient with it). -Cora Find this book and other titles within our catalog. See also: All the Light We Cannot See (2014) by Anthony Doerr

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...