Your Preview Verdict: Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr

Your Preview Verdict: Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr

From the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of All the Light We Cannot See comes a triumph of imagination and compassion, a soaring story of resilience, hope – and a book. 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 sides 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, 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.

Read some great reviews from our Preview readers here:

Anthony Doerr is a true genius. I didn’t think he could top himself after All the Light We Cannot See, but he has, and with style. Cloud Cuckoo Land is brilliant and Doer has expertly weaved three different stories together, all with their unique elements. This novel was truly a joy to read, and should cement Anthony Doerr on the list of top authors of the twenty-first century. Cloud Cuckoo Land has tremendous depth while still being accessible to a wide audience. A modern classic! Angie, NSW, 5 Stars

Why have I never read any Anthony Doerr books before? He definitely now has a new fan here. I have always been reluctant to read All The Light We Cannot See due to the hype it was getting and its reviews being afraid that I will be disappointed but after reading ‘Cloud Cuckoo Land’ it’s the next book I am going to read. Loved how Doerr manages to tell us a story about the lives of five different characters set in three distinct time frames, the past – 1453, the present, and decades in the future. We follow the lives of Anna, Omeir, Seymour, Zeno, and Konstance and their story of living in one of those time frames and how an old greek story ‘Cloud Cuckoo Land’ by Antonius Diogenes connects the stories of these characters. I enjoyed reading the different lives of the five characters and what they were experiencing. It was a mixture of historical fiction with the future world thrown in. All time periods seemed realistic and you could see our lives becoming the way we live in the future. I did enjoy reading about all five characters but Anna was my favourite. I can’t believe the life she lived in Constantinople, a city I know well through other readings and actually visiting the city a few years before Covid. I am a fan of Greek scriptures and history which made this book extra special for me while reading it. Especially, enjoyed reading the Greek text as it came up and am glad that I can still read it since it’s been years since I’ve needed to read it. Plus, I did do some extra reading on scriptures that were mentioned throughout the book. Cloud Cuckoo Land is a must read by all and don’t let the size of the book scare you off because it’s worth reading every page. Maria, SA, 5 Stars

Anthony Doerr’s Cloud Cuckoo Land is an ambitious, grand, sweeping tale of disparate and intersecting narratives spread in time over centuries and geographically across continents and beyond. With beautifully eloquent writing and a host of wonderfully drawn characters, this book is an ode to books, the written word, stories and libraries of the past, the present and the future to come. Bursting with imagination, this is a book for book lovers and a magnificent, complex and extraordinary novel for the ages. Imogen, VIC, 5 Stars

Wow, what a book Cloud Cuckoo Land is! My favourite character so far, its quite a lengthy read, is Zeno. I am not usually a fan of books that jump around with the timeline but this is done a little bit differently to the norm and makes it easier to keep up with the characters. Their individual stories are wonderfully written and Anthony’s words bring the scene and the atmosphere alive in my imagination so vividly that you feel like you’re actually there on the outskirts watching. His imagination is out of this world and each of his characters comes alive in their own colourful landscapes. Whilst the size of this book might be offputting to some, you would be doing yourself a great favour by reading this book and I am sure that you would fall in love with all of these characters. Highly recommend this book. Thank you for the chance to preview it. Jodi, QLD, 5 Stars

Three diverse eras, places and storylines are brought together by the long lost Greek text “Cloud Cuckoo Land” in this spellbinding novel. Anna, a seamstress in 15th century Constantinople discovers the already ancient text in a city under siege. Omeir, a woodcutter’s son born with a harelip in the mountains of Bulgaria, is reviled for his appearance, but develops an affinity with animals. Zeno, a small town librarian in 2020 has spent his life translating and studying the lost text, Seymour is a troubled autistic boy with a cause. The final piece is Konstance, a traveller in deep space… the novel deftly builds each story, finally revealing how they relate. Truly an absorbing, beautifully written story. Juanita, NSW, 5 Stars

Reading this book felt like an indulgence. As he did with “All the Light We Cannot See“, Doerr builds his narrative through rich descriptions and heart-achingly beautiful imagery which seems to seep into your consciousness. It is a slow burn but also a page-turner. This is a book to read slowly and savour. It was the perfect lockdown companion. While the movement between timeframes may confuse some, in my view, it serves its purpose to constantly pique the reader’s curiosity as to how Doerr will weave the threads of his characters’ lives and disparate experiences across their different time periods together. The resolution does not disappoint! Kate, VIC, 5 Stars

This is a book for book lovers. It has something for everyone – adventure, drama, history, sci-fi, humanity, sorrow, loss, celebration and humour. I’m numb after finishing it – it was just incredible. One of the best books I have ever read, and one that will stick with me for some time. The amount of research and imagination that have gone into this novel is staggering. Often in books with multiple timelines or POVs, I find myself inevitably favouring one, and wanting to skip over the others. This was not the case here – I adored all of the characters and became so invested in all of their tales. Doerr’s addition of an ancient myth that connects all of the characters is in itself a delightful adventure, carrying with it some wisdom about humanity, happiness and the meaning of life. This is a fairly hefty read, at around 620 pages, and it does examine the darker sides of humanity, highlighting how broken the world is. There are smatterings of Ancient Greek text and some heavy concepts. It’s solid proof then, that Doerr has managed to take all of this, and leave us feeling hopeful and inspired, and that he has done so in such an approachable way – this is not a difficult read! I would give this 10/5 if I could. An absolute triumph, and wow. Just wow. Alexandra, NSW, 5 Stars

Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr is a big book in every sense of the word – coming in at 622 pages and spanning from 1439 in old Constantinople to somewhere in Greenland in 2146, with characters ranging from a poor and uneducated farm boy in ancient Turkey to a teenage girl in the future whose father once lived in outback Australia, all tied together through a fictional and fanciful legend narrated by Antonius Diogenes, a Greek writer from the 2nd century CE. It appears a daunting read at first glance but the narrative and imagery flow so smoothly that it is easy to keep track of all the story threads. The characters are totally engaging and like little seamstress Anna, who hungers for education and meaning in her life, I happily ‘climbed into the story’ and let it draw me into different lands and different times with utter joy. Dianne, QLD, 5 Stars

This in an incredible, sweeping, and moving novel. It is long but I loved every minute of it. Each character felt separate and unique, yet entwined and connected across the centuries. I loved the homage to libraries and stories, and I appreciated the urgent appeal to address the ravages we are committing against the planet. Each setting was vivid and compelling, and richly detailed. Even in the depths of each character’s individual despair, they always fought in whatever way they knew how; always hoped; always turned back to the stories that were familiar and comforting. I cannot recommend this book highly enough, it is one of my favourite reads of this year by far! Katrina, TAS, 5 Stars

This beautiful book set in 3 distinctly different time; past present and future; but intrinsically linked through an ancient Greek text. It provides hope and connection when their worlds are failing them. A delight to read. Megan, NSW, 5 Stars

This book grabs you from the first page. Doerr is an excellent wordsmith who paints glorious pictures of his settings and his characters while telling his story…..and this is a book about the place of story telling in our human existence, from the ancient past through to the distant future. Loved it. Some may be put off my the length of this book but I believe every word is necessary. Wouldn’t be surprised if this wins awards. Linda, VIC, 5 Stars

Cloud Cuckoo Land is a book that delves into the genres of Historical Fiction, Fantasy and Science Fiction. This is a creative and imaginative story that shows how the world is broken while we continue to damage it, but there is also hope. There are three time periods that are interconnected, and initially seem like several separate stories but all come together connected by an ancient Greek text. Anthony Doerr’s prose is beautifully written and encapsulates the different eras of time with avid description and a message to us all. I was captivated throughout the whole book and wanted to keep reading more and more. Cloud Cuckoo Land was an absolute pleasure to read and I look forward to reading more works by this ingenious author! Brittany, VIC, 5 Stars

Another remarkable book by Anthony Doerr. ‘Cloud Cuckoo Land’ is such a different story from ‘All the Light We Cannot See’ and just as remarkable. Cloud Cuckoo Land involves 5 main characters in 3 distinct time zones; past, present and future. Each short chapter reveals twists and connections between the characters and an ancient manuscript of Antonius Diogenese, the man who becomes a donkey, a fish and a bird. It’s a story of survival, self-discovery and determination. Beautifully written tale of how stories tie us all together and live on well after the story teller. Krystine, VIC, 5 Stars

What an incredible read Cloud Cuckoo Land is. From the gorgeous image on the cover to the very last page, I was entranced by and completely absorbed in these weaving, interlocking tales, held together by an ancient story. Doerr uses three different time periods – Constantinople in the 1400’s, America in the 80’s to present day, and some time in the future – to challenge us to think about issues as broad-ranging as love, family, knowledge, the environment, animal welfare and the power of stories. All of this is held together by the magic of an ancient Greek tale, which reveals itself to be just as relevant now as when it was penned over 2,000 years ago. Although it is a book incomparable to anything I have read before, it felt like reading an amalgam of People of the Book (Geraldine Brooks) and Cloud Atlas (David Mitchell). And anyone who has read Doerr’s award winning All the Light We Cannot See will note similarities in style and symbolism. A gorgeous read – buy half a dozen copies to give at Christmas presents for those you love! Kate, VIC, 5 Stars

This is a large book! I didn’t read the blurb or any previews and so it took me a while to see the threads in this tale. It has several storylines, each of which follows a child who is a dreamer, an idealist, a survivor. They live in different times of earth’s history and in and different parts of the world. Each child is an outsider, each child must survive, each has a book. In this book is another story of another who is seeking a better place, the paradise of Cloud Cuckoo Land. This is a story of survival, of hope, of care for this earth and others, and of the importance of story. It is dedicated to “the librarians then, now, and in the years to come.” I loved it. Highly recommended. Liesl, NSW, 5 Stars

I fell in love with Anthony Doerr’s All the Light We Cannot See a few years ago, but I think Cloud Cuckoo Land has captured my heart forever. Three different stories spanning hundreds of years yet tied together by one little text. As the connections between characters and time periods were made, my heart gave little leaps of recognition and joy and yes, sometimes sorrow, as fates were realised. Often when you read a book that skips between characters each chapter you can’t wait to get back to one favourite character and follow their story. In Cloud Cuckoo Land I found myself engrossed and invested in all the characters’ stories: brave Konstance, damaged Seymour who felt too much, gentle Omeir and his oxen on their way to capture a city. I have found myself thinking about Cloud Cuckoo Land in the days since I finished it and I think parts of it will always live within my memory the way the very best books do. Kate, NSW, 5 Stars

This is not a history novel nor is it a scifi novel but it is a book of stories from the people in their respective times all linked by the belief in another place and time & a tale that has been told from long before. We hear the stories from a small group of characters and what is happening in their lives in their period of time with glimpses of their past and the decisions made to get them to the point in their life we are viewing. This is interjected with words from a text that has been deciphered and tells the tale of reaching Cloud Cuckoo Land. Each of the characters have their own struggles whether it is physical, social or mental that they are trying to accept within themselves. Doerr has written a wonderful tale. The description of the landscapes & the characters within transport you there whether it is to Constantinople in the 1400s, to present day 2020 or even some distant future on a spaceship. I believe he has also interjected himself cheekily within his own story as Antonio. What a wonderful read & a discovery of linking people across generations & time. Alli, VIC, 5 Stars

What a great book! And as a librarian I loved it even more – such wonderful libraries portrayed, from handwritten manuscripts to a VR world, via a small town library where the staff provide a safe, exciting and welcoming place, or do they? The stories are perfectly interwoven and the characters are so real. The story of the siege and fall of Constantinople, told by Anna and Omeir, on either side of the wall, is both fantastic and horrific, and sadly, shows that we never really learn from the past. And reading about the current ‘billionaires in space’ programs, makes me think the story of Konstance is hardly far fetched at all. Happiness, sadness, horror, amazement – this book has it all. Victoria, NSW, 5 Stars

Anthony Doerr wrote this book especially for me – or that’s how it feels. The fact that he dedicated it “for the librarians” is the clincher. The story is so rich and layered, with engrossing storylines happening simultaneously across centuries that I want to immediately start at the beginning and re-read it to ensure I don’t miss anything. It’s a story about the power of stories and of human connection and the imperative to care for the planet. Character flaws are explored sensitively and even misguided, desperate actions come from well-meaning, understandable, motivation. Events from Constantinople five and a half centuries ago feel as authentic as events in the recent past in Colorado and those in the unknown post-ecological-apocalypse future. This book is destined to win awards and is likely to be prescribed reading in future Literature courses, yet it is very accessible and never stuffy or preachy. It is a book that our students will actually enjoy analysing. It is not often that the words “engrossing” and “literary” go together, but in this immensely rewarding read, they do. Heidi, VIC, 5 Stars

Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr was reminiscent of People of the Book (Geraldine Brooks) in the way it wove through the ages revealing characters, re-telling, travels and construction. That’s where the difference ended though as with the whimsical tale by Antonius Diogenes, meant for an ailing relative, winds itself into so many lives across centuries where it provides surprising bursts of hope, motivation and strength to its readers and listeners alike. A tale that survived so long, that was so fantastical and at times ridiculous, and yet, became such a touchstone for the different characters during their most trying and frightening times. Anna, striving to live beyond the oppressive constraints put upon an orphan in a workhouse as she labours to be good and keep out of trouble for her hard-working long-suffering sister. Omeir, a young boy described as a demon and a jinn. Zeno, an outsider left orphaned at a young age, learns of the story through a friend and commits to its rewriting. Seymour, a loner, whose anger at a diminishing natural world, leads him to some drastic actions which land him in trouble. And Konstance with her father’s stories in her ear and an insatiable need to find her truth, all these characters over the course of time discover, reflect, re-live and open themselves to the magic that is Cloud Cuckoo Land. Each character’s story is tied together by the suffering, perseverance and hope Cloud Cuckoo Land conveys which in the end provides the same meaning, the same conclusion for all of them. Sue, NSW, 5 Stars

An assortment of misfits are connected by the ancient Greek tale of Aethon: Elderly Zeno has built Cloud Cuckoo Land for a group of 5th graders about to perform the play at the Lakeport Public Library, Idaho. Losing his father in WWII the librarians had fostered his reading of Greek myths, during the Korean War a fellow POW inspired him to translate Aethon’s tale. Teenage Seymour has been aided by Lakeport’s librarians to research the great sooty owl knowing that his beloved Trustyfriend’s habitat is under threat by development. Today, one block away from the library he is carrying a bomb-filled backpack having been e-recruited as an eco-warrior. Anna, a 15th century orphan is fascinated by a painting of a sad-eyed donkey wanting to reach an arcadian city in the clouds. In the besieged city of Constantinople she discovers the codex containing the donkey’s story. Omeir, is begrudgingly enlisted by the Saracens for the military effort. The noise of men, beasts and forges creating a war engine that will bring down the city’s impenetrable walls has him pining for peace and quiet. With the army’s impending victory he deserts, captures a fleeing Anna and together they travel to his home. Earth is burning so Konstance and her parents are travelling on the interstellar ark ‘Argos’ to a distant alternate planet which will be colonised by her descendants. Leisure consists of virtual visits to the Library. She travels the atlas in pursuit of her father’s story. And just like Aethon who needed to solve a riddle at the gates of Cloud Cuckoo Land, she puzzles the connections between the myth and libraries and owls and these misfits. Anthony Doerr’s eloquence is a lingering melody, a gentle balm for the soul. Anita, QLD, 5 Stars

Cloud Cuckoo Land is a dazzling story told in the spirit and style of All the Light We Cannot See. Anthony Doerr has woven a narrative tapestry with an ancient text at its heart, the threads of which draw us into the lives of characters who speak to us from the past, present and future. There is Zeno, the octogenarian Korean war veteran; Seymour the damaged teenager who wants to save the world; Anna the orphaned girl who escapes and survives the siege of Constantinople; Omeir the disfigured young man who finds more love and connection with animals than his own kind. And there is Konstance sole survivor of catastrophic forces that have brought disaster to planet Earth. There is much food for thought here about humankind’s relentless appetite for destruction and chaos as well as the redemptive and restorative power of storytelling. This is deeply rewarding novel that satisfies on all levels. At 622 pages it is of epic proportions, but the short, aptly titled chapters and Doerr’s assured and eloquent writing ensure easy navigation and smooth reading. Susan, VIC, 5 Stars

What would you do at the end of things? What would you do at the end of the world, way of life, empire, town, life as you know it, used to? What would you do if you faced a black hole of unknown? Well, read ancient Greeks and dream of Cloud Cuckoo Land for one thing. 5 people thrown across centuries but united by dreaming a Utopian dream are faced with their worlds crumbling around them. 5 stories brought to us as songs of Odyssey, poetic and flowing, imaginative and heart-touching. 5 stories so different from each other but unified by the love, passion and aching for books, stories and storytelling. I dreamed a dream. I read a book… Svetlana, VIC, 5 Stars

Cloud Cuckoo Land tells a tale spanning three eras, woven together by the thread of a whimsical sage from Ancient Greece. It gently draws you in and lets you fall in love with the characters as they fight their different battles, while recognising the power of stories to bond and connect people when they least expect. At a time when negativity feels all around us, this is a book that provides a feeling of hope. That sometimes the trials we face can make us the person we were meant to be in the first place. Highly recommended read. Jane, VIC, 5 Stars

Wow, what a great book. It’s huge. Set in 3 different eras, with 3 different storylines, Yet, they are all intertwined. My favourite part of the book was the relationship between Seymour and Zeno. Highly recommend this book. Bridget, VIC, 5 Stars

I thoroughly enjoyed Cloud Cuckoo Land. I opened it without reading the back cover or any blurb, so had no idea what I was in for. It’s one of those books that you just have to go with; just jump in and enjoy the ride. You accept that you might not understand what is happening right away and how these very disparate stories could possibly be related, but that’s fine, beacuse the different threads are so absorbing, they grab you from the start, even though you’ve no idea what’s going on. You’re almost sad to leave each character when you turn the page and find a different section. But the regret is extremely short-lived as you’re soon carried along in the new stream. Doerr creates incredible stories with fascinating characters and then amazingly weaves them together into an unforgettable whole, that spans millennia but centers on real people with their faults and hopes and dreams. It’s utterly absorbing. I totally recommend it – jump in and enjoy the ride. Em, NSW, 5 Stars

Argos – Konstance, some time in the future on a ship to another planet, run by SYBIL who instructs everyone what to do. But also on board is a massive library that has everything every printed. Lakeside Public Library – Zeno and Seymour earlier to present day. Then Constantinople, 1450’s, with Anna and Omeir on opposite sides. All have in common books relating to Cloud Cuckoo Land. Konstance in SYBIL’s memory banks, Zeno, making a play about it and Anna with the original. Also they have in common relating to the library – “Questions answered here!” This was a very intriguing book and though a very big book, was very hard to put down. I recommend it. Sue, NSW, 5 Stars

There are a few different strands to this story: 1453 Constantinople, 2020 Idaho, and ‘the future’ Year 68 from ‘The Argos’, some sort of save-the-people-of-earth mission. They are all connected by an ancient Greek manuscript by Antonius Diogenes describing the astonishing adventures of Aethon as he travels to Cloud Cuckoo Land. I cannot imagine another author pulling this off and bringing all the vastly differing stories together. This is a rich, textured book with beautiful prose, showing love of stories and language, and lauding those who curate these stories for the future. Anthony Doerr is a master storyteller, I was entranced as the stories unfolded, then had that jolt of recognition when they all started to dovetail. I wanted to keep reading it forever. Thanks so much Better Reading for the chance to read this amazing book. A treasure. Malvina, NSW, 5 Stars

A beautiful, complicated magical book that takes you on a fabulous trip through multiple places and timelines. All the characters were wonderfully engaging and the stories of each eventually weave together. With so many characters and storylines, it took me a while to get engrossed but in the end, I was totally hooked. This is long book and I really wouldn’t know what genre to classify it as, but I highly recommend it for those that like Sci-fi/fantasy and probably history. If you are wanting a simple quick read this is not the book for you, but if you are willing to dive in, it’s like 4 books in one whose storylines all weave into one wonderful read. Leesy, NSW, 4 Stars

What a journey he took me on, every page another direction, like no other book I have ever read. Lynette, NSW, 4 Stars

This is an amazing book yet at times it came very close to being a ‘Did Not Finish’. The mesmerising prose, which was in All The Light We Cannot See, is there in spades – ‘the sea god roars past on his sea-green steads’…’joy cartwheeling through her’ – as it did for me. Simply breathtaking. The book is six stories across millennia: • The Ancient Greek traveller, Diogenes • Orphaned Anna in Constantinople and Omeir from Bulgaria in the mid 1400s • Zeno and Seymour, two Americans in the 20th and 21st centuries • Konstance, a young girl on a spaceship that left earth 65 years earlier. Each chapter is short and jumps to a new character. It took me forever to be invested in any one. The only way was to read ahead each individual’s storyline to the point that I felt okay leaving them. Omeir’s story at times was a slog. I felt this book could have been 100 page shorter, yet the last chapter much longer. BUT, the way it all comes together is beautiful, astounding…inspired mastery. And the character I liked the least made me cry. If you liked Geraldine Brook’s People of the Book, you will love this. Sherryl, QLD, 4 Stars

A tale spanning 3 periods in time all linked by one fanciful ancient story. Magic that spans generations and brings people together in different ways. A well written story that engages from the beginning with characters you can’t help but want to know more about. A great read to whisk you away to a different world (especially during lockdown). Kristen, NSW, 4 Stars

All the Light We Cannot See was one of my top reads of last year, so I cannot tell you the level of anticipation that came with his new work. And it’s epic, in every way. There are many themes, POV characters, storylines and timelines, from 1400s Constantinople to modern day to the intergalactic future, but weaving it all together is one ancient text called Cloud Cuckoo Land. Sounds mad. But it works beautifully. Doerr is a master of historical detail and has created worlds we can see and almost touch. The characters are unique and richly drawn, and the narrative is superbly executed. Coming in at more than 600 pages, its size is intimidating, but the text is broken into small, manageable sections so it’s surprisingly easy to get through. I found the ancient language in some sections laborious at times, but it’s necessary and you get used to it. This is a dense, dreamy, poignant tale of the power of storytelling across all of human existence. And how it will endure even if we burn this planet to the ground. Wonderful! Carlie, NSW, 4 Stars

Anthony Doerr is one of the greats. It takes great skill to create such a cohesive story that is part historical fiction, part contemporary and part science fiction, combining the lifetime stories of five very different characters from three different time periods into one beautifully constructed narrative. Even if these genres are not usually your preference, I strongly recommend you try them in this format. We follow Anna and Omeir during the siege of Constantinople in the 15th century; Seymour and Zeno in a public library in Idaho and Konstance in the future onboard an interstellar ship, who are all connected by the story of Aethon in Cloud Cuckoo Land. This book is an exquisite study of humanity, with each character facing different adversities while experiencing their own version of loneliness. It is rare for readers to engage so fully with each viewpoint. The greatest lesson of this book is that nothing is permanent, not even the written word. We must appreciate what we have while we have it and preserve all that we can. The loss of this text would be tremendous. This book was an absolute pleasure to read. Jaclyn, WA, 4 Stars

Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr is the story of different characters in different time periods and how their individuality and being outsiders are woven together when faced with a common theme – their quest for survival ultimately bound by hope. From the siege of Constantinople in the 15th century, to our current year 2020 and then to the future, the characters in Cloud Cuckoo Land all have an ancient Greek text in common. I am a fan of Anthony Doerr’s novel All The Light We Cannot See but admittedly, I found this novel hard to get into at the start. With so many characters, time periods and different stories, there was a lot going on and it was a little confusing. But I persisted and am glad I did because I felt a lot more involved in the characters and their stories from the middle of the novel right to the end. While this fantasy novel may not be for everyone, Anthony is a true story-teller. I am very grateful for the opportunity to read this novel. Congratulations to Anthony for being such an exceptional and creative writer. Christine, QLD, 4 Stars

This intriguing novel spans three different time periods and weaves connecting threads between each character’s story. The reader is first introduced to Konstance, a 14-year-old girl, part of a futuristic mission on the Argos, a self-contained biosphere. Konstance is trying to make sense of her isolation and loneliness. The narrative then shifts focus to a public library in 2020, where octogenarian Zeno is assisting a group of 5th graders stage a play, while outside 17-year-old Seymour has a mission. The focus then shifts to fifteenth century Constantinople where orphan siblings Anna and Maria work as slaves in an embroidery house. Beyond the walls of Constantinople is 12-year-old Omeir, a gentle boy who is enlisted to be a teamster in the Sultan’s army as it prepares to attack this great city. The background, personalities and motivations of each of these characters is explored and, in the process, Doerr builds his reader’s interest and empathy. An ancient Greek tale written by Antonius Diogenes in the first century C.E. features in each story and creates links and connections central to the novel. A central part of the narrative is set in a public library, which emphasizes the importance of libraries as a repository of stories, a place to create connections and a refuge from the outside world. Cloud Cuckoo Land explores environmental concerns, resilience, difference and strength in difficult and challenging circumstances. It is a rewarding read with the final chapters revealing the extent of each characters’ ability to cope with adversity and act with courage and resourcefulness. Lyn, NSW, 4 Stars

An epic adventure spanning the past, present and the future, swooping in on the lives of five extraordinary people, each an outcast in their own way, but showing persistence to live their truth or to live in spite of it. The crumbling world of ancient Constantinople, the precarious present moment as the Earth battles environmental destruction and extinction, and a chilling scenario of the future, will hold readers spellbound. An ancient text of a magical quest ties the three time periods together and demonstrates the power of stories to give hope in difficult times and to facilitate belief in something bigger than ourselves. As the various storylines weave their windy way, the characters and the reader come full circle to realise “what you already have is better than what you so desperately seek” and “the world as it is is enough.” A novel for these times, a thought-provoking dose of pure escapism and armchair travel to worlds within worlds. “There is magic in this place, you just have to sit and breathe and wait” and when you have turned the final page you will be left pondering what the future holds for us all. A story on a grand scale. Michelle, VIC, 4 Stars

It’s great to discover a novel that was derived from such a unique idea. Connected by the story from an ancient Greek text, the author has been able to tell the story of five very different people living in centuries apart. All are outsiders in their own way and have a connection to the natural world. Each story has a connection to the text and tells of a young person who strives to overcome adversity. Those involve the impact of war on the young. It also deals with climate change and a dying planet. Both are written without preaching to the reader. The writing is beautiful, with description being at times lyrical. The characters are very real. It’s easy to become connected to them and their lives. The five plots are skillfully drawn together at the conclusion of the book. This is a very satisfying book and easy to read despite its complexity. Judith, SA, 4 Stars

Wow what an interesting book. Am I glad I read it? – Yes. Would I recommend it to others? – I don’t think so. I really enjoyed the stories of the five main characters and found myself wanting to know more each time a character’s chapter ended but I found the linking device between all the characters disappointing and a bit too unbelievable towards the end. I was fascinated with Konstance’s futuristic living conditions but when her ending was revealed couldn’t understand why the author had included the twist. It just seemed like there were too many literary devices and genres mixed together. Stand out characters in a muddle of ideas. Steph, NSW, 3 Stars

Anthony Doerr has written a very different book to his last great read “All The Light We Cannot See“. This is an epic read which challenges the reader, with many story lines spanning centuries of history. You will have to be committed to see it through but the satisfaction of the connections of the stories and the impact of the themes is worth it. The varied characters are bound by common goals, thus binding the tale together. It is a book for these times; times of pandemic and lockdown when we need resilience and hope. What a journey for the reader. Give it a go! Diane, NSW, 3 Stars


A Triumph of Imagination: Read an Extract from Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr

Review | Extract

1 October 2021

A Triumph of Imagination: Read an Extract from Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr

    A Glimmering Epic: Read Our Review of Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr

    Review | Our Review

    28 September 2021

    A Glimmering Epic: Read Our Review of Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr

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        Publisher details

        Cloud Cuckoo Land
        Anthony Doerr
        29 September, 2021


        Cloud Cuckoo Land follows three storylines: Anna and Omeir, on opposite sides of the formidable city wall during the 1453 siege of Constantinople; teenage idealist Seymour and gentle octogenarian Zeno, in an attack on a public library in present day Idaho; and Konstance, on an interstellar ship bound for a distant exoplanet, decades from now. A single copy of an ancient text – the story of Aethon, who longs to be turned into a bird so that he can fly to the paradise of Cloud Cuckoo Land – provides solace, mystery and the most profound human connection to these five unforgettable characters. Like Marie-Laure and Werner in All the Light We Cannot See, Anna, Omeir, Zeno, Seymour and Konstance are dreamers and outsiders, struggling to survive and finding resourcefulness and hope in the midst of peril.
        Anthony Doerr
        About the author

        Anthony Doerr

        Anthony Doerr is the author of four books, The Shell Collector, About Grace, Four Seasons in Rome and Memory Wall. Doerr's short fiction has won three O. Henry Prizes and has been anthologized in The Best American Short Stories, The Anchor Book of New American Short Stories, and The Scribner Anthology of Contemporary Fiction. He has won the Rome Prize, and shared the New York Public Library's Young Lions Fiction Award with Jonathan Safran Foer. In 2007 Granta placed Doerr on its list of the "21 Best Young American novelists." Doerr lives in Boise, Idaho, with his wife and two sons.

        Books by Anthony Doerr


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