Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Review: Cloud Cuckoo Land

Throughout time, an unlikely group of people are united by their interest in a single text: an ancient Greek tale about a shepherd named Aethon who turns into different creatures and travels to a city in the clouds. In the future, a young woman is all alone on a spaceship and painstakingly recording the tale of Aethon. In 2020, an elderly man prepares to put on a play of Aethon's adventures with a group of children, unaware of the danger waiting on the lower level of the library. And in the 15th century, a young girl finds comfort in the tale of Aethon as the city of Constantinople is under siege. In Cloud Cuckoo Land, Anthony Doerr carefully weaves these lives together to remind us all about the importance of story and how we are all connected.

Anthony Doerr found great acclaim in 2014 with his book All the Light We Cannot See. If you enjoyed that book, you will find multiple points of view, a sweeping epic, and beautiful writing in Cloud Cuckoo Land too. In fact, his newest book is even more sweeping with five storylines (plus the text about Aethon) that will take you across centuries and countries. 

As a reader, your tolerance for epics may vary. I found this book to be a very engaging read, but I also thought it was a bit long and too neatly wrapped up. Doerr is trying to say some very specific things here, but I wonder if it would have been even more powerful if there were fewer perspectives and some things were left unresolved.  

Cloud Cuckoo Land is not a casual reading experience. At almost 700 pages, a reader has to commit to this journey with these characters and trust that Doerr will carry them through it. But if you can do that, it's worthwhile to experience this love letter to stories that asks why we keep stories alive and why that matters.

Cloud Cuckoo Land
By Anthony Doerr
Scribner September 2021
656 pages
Read via Netgalley

1 comment:

  1. I have passed on this one for now. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I may give it another try in the future.