Masterpiece. This is the word I keep coming back to as I try to put into words this novel. Anthony Doerr is brilliant, truly. Deserving of the Pulitzer but I suspect he won’t get it since he received the Pulitzer for his other remarkable novel All The Light We Cannot See. I have so much to say about this novel, so here is my Book Review Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr.
Note – Cloud Cuckoo Land has a very old meaning. Read about it on Wikipedia here.
First I implore you not to read all the reviews about this book (except this one of course!) because you will just be confused. There are both positive and negative…in fact extreme negative reviews. I’m ashamed of some of the reviewers who claim they were too confused to continue. They didn’t understand what was going on. Seriously? You must keep reading and it all comes together in one of the most beautiful stories I have ever read. Don’t give up. I will say it is the kind of book you can’t put down and come back to several weeks later. You may very well be confused if you aren’t consistent and focused. I recommend it as an Audible, the flow of it was outstanding.
So clearly, I loved this work. I recently read one of Doerr’s early novels About Grace and I hated it. But in Cloud Cuckoo Land he shines. Doerr takes us from 15th century Constantinople to the Korean War to present day Idaho to a futuristic space ship. In all of these time periods there is a common thread…the world is in peril. The characters all are coming of age in a time where it seems the world is coming to an end. Not unlike our current state of affairs, yes?
Following these characters in this epic story, Doerr’s imagination, ingenuity, research and writing prowess generates these deep and thoughtful characters and creates each timeline in a seemingly unrelated way. Ahhh but wait.
We meet Anna, a 15th century 13-year old orphan with no money, no skills and no prospects in a time where women are in danger every day of their lives.
We meet Omeir, a deformed and shunned child in the 15th century who cares deeply for animals and is just trying to survive during the time of the siege of Constantinople.
Fast forward 500 years to Zeno who learns Greek as a prisoner of war during the Korean war, survives to return home to a quiet Idaho life, hiding his true homosexual tendencies.
Idaho in the 1970’s we meet Seymour, a troubled and fearful child who befriends an owl as his only “trusty friend” only to be devastated when development ruins the owl habitat. Seymour cannot forgive.
Fast forward another 500 years and we meet Konstance, a ten year old girl who has lived her entire life on an interstellar space ship, a survival technique launched when the earth was beyond repair. But a pandemic (yes seriously) will change everything.
Doerr weaves this remarkable tale connecting these seemingly unconnected people in ways you can’t fathom. It’s a beautiful story whose soul is about how we care for each other, how we care for planet earth, and most of all how we care for the future of the human race and all the things we hold dear.
Have faith….the world does not end. Read this book. I can’t stop thinking about it. Masterpiece is the word.
*****Five plus stars for Cloud Cuckoo Land. I hope you enjoyed my book review Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr.
Read last week’s review of Notorious RBG
My current read Less by Andrew Sean Greer
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