"Outside a dog a book is man's best friend, inside a dog it is too dark to read!" -Groucho Marx========="The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid." -Jane Austen========="I don’t believe in the kind of magic in my books. But I do believe something very magical can happen when you read a good book."-JK Rowling========"I spend a lot of time reading." -Bill Gates=========“Ahhh. Bed, book, kitten, sandwich. All one needed in life, really.” -Jacqueline Kelly=========

Thursday, December 16, 2021

Review and quotes: CLOUD CUCKOO LAND

Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr

Book Beginnings quote: 


A fourteen-year-old girl sits crossed-legged on the floor of a circular vault. A mass of curls haloes her head; her socks are full of holes. This is Konstance.

Friday56 quote:


The oldest daughter dies of worms, fever takes the middle one, but the boy grows...Twice his mother pays the farrier's wife to travel nine miles upriver from the village to stitch together the gap in the boy's lip with a needle and twine and twice the project fails.

In addition to Konstance, Omeir, there is Anna (CONSTANTINOPLE. 1439-1452), Zeno and Seymore. (LAKEPORT, IDAHO. TWENTIETH AND TWENTY FIRST CENTURY.)

Summary: Yes. The story is told in four+ locations and time periods: in and around Constantinople in days leading up to its fall in 1453; in the mountains of Bulgaria during the same time period; in Lakeport, Idaho starting in the 1940s through 2020; and in a spaceship en route to a possible new land to colonize in the future, 65 years into the mission. What do all of these people throughout time have in common? They all find or interact with a book (codex) called "Cloud Cuckoo Land" written by Antonius Diogenes some time in the second century CE. And that little book made all the difference in the character's lives.

Review: I am not going to tell you more in the summary because this post would be pages long if I did and because I want you to discover the interlocking stories for yourself. Cloud Cuckoo Land is really an ode to story-telling and to the people who preserve those stories going forward. At one point some bibliophile in the book reminds (tells) us how many of the Greek tragedies are lost. “We know that at least one thousand of them were written and performed in Greek theaters in the fifth century B.C. You know how many we have left? Thirty-two.” And of those 32 maybe only a few lines on each page may be legible. In this day and age of the Internet we tend to forget that time and elements have absolutely destroyed important documents from the past.

Cloud Cuckoo Land is, among other things, a paean to the nameless people who have played a role in the transmission of ancient texts and preserved the tales they tell. But it’s also about the consolations of stories and the balm they have provided for millenniums. It’s a wildly inventive novel that teems with life, straddles an enormous range of experience and learning, and embodies the storytelling gifts that it celebrates (NYT). 
And, boy howdy, what storytelling! When one reads Cloud Cuckoo Land they will get caught up in the stories of five people over a huge arc of time. And, as a bonus, the reader will learn a bit about Antonius Diogenes, who was a real person, though he didn't actually write a book named "Cloud Cuckoo Land." I looked it up, wondering at the odd turn-of-phrase. Cloud-cuckoo-land was coined by the 4th century BC Greek playwright Aristophanes in the whimsical and extravagant play, The Birds. And if it is used today, though I've never heard it used, it means "A realm of fanciful or impractical, idealistic notions." 

My husband and I listened to the audiobook together so we had the benefit of each other to ask for clarification if a thread was lost when trying to keep track of five stories. We had to trust that all the stories were somehow connected and that we would eventually understand how. It was a very satisfying experience when the focus became clearer and those connections were revealed. This doesn't often happen but both of us gave the same rating to the book: 5 stars.

Book Beginnings on Friday is hosted by Rose City ReaderShare the opening quote from current book.
e Friday56 is hosted at Freda's VoiceFind a quote from page 56 to share. 

Visit these two websites to participate. Click on links to read quotes from books other people are reading. It is a great way to make blog friends and to get suggestions for new reading material.  




  1. I think my head hurts just from reading that description. Unique for sure. I think I'd struggle to follow it, but glad you enjoyed.

  2. Ooh I kept seeing this book around but somehow thought it was about something completely different?! I'm going to have to pick it up next time I see it, because a mysterious codex changing people's lives across time is exactly what I want to read! Thanks for sharing your thoughts and I hope you have a lovely weekend :)
    Juli @ A Universe in Words

  3. I had no idea what this one was about. I think I'll have to check it out!

  4. I didn’t give this one much of a chance. I intend to go back to it some day. I just wasn’t ready for the “effort” necessary to read it. But I’ve heard great things, and your thoughts make me want to give it a go. Maybe the audio version would help?

    1. Yes. The audio version was a good choice for us. We didn't get the visual clues that the story was changing perspective but the headings helped keep us aware of the shifts.

  5. Oh, my, scary excerpts! Thanks for sharing...and for visiting my blog.

  6. Sounds like a deep read! Happy weekend!

  7. I've been seeing this book a lot lately. Glad to hear it's a good one. Thanks for sharing! Hope you have a great weekend! :)

  8. I loved the author's previous book, All the Light We Cannot See. I've seen such mixed reviews on this latest endeavor that I'm not rushing to read it, but I am intrigued.

    1. I loved All the Light We Cannot See, too, and Doerr's writing is just as strong in CCL. It takes a little while to make sense of what is happening but not that long, then you can settle down and enjoy the stories.

  9. I'm intrigued with the excerpts and description.

  10. It sounds way too complicated for me, especially on audio, but glad you all enjoyed it! https://cindysbookcorner.blogspot.com/2021/12/first-line-friday-30-behind-loves-wall.html

  11. 5 stars! I heard the author interviewed on NPR a while back and he made it sound really interesting.

  12. It sounds a lot like his other book which didn't connect fast enough for me. He's a gifted writer, but I don't do well with his style.

  13. Cloud Cuckoo Land - just a few thoughts quickly recorded:

    Thank you for your review. You write so well. I also loved Coots’ review on Goodreads. If you have a chance, take a peek.

    I did a lot of googling: Constantinople and who resided there and who was attacking, quicksilver, codex, cuckoos, Korean war, Erdine etc.

    I just loved how important a simple story of looking for paradise became to all the protagonists. It not only gave them hope, but healed them physically and mentally. I enjoyed Anna’s joy of breaking barriers to learn to read and Konstance’s curiosity and tenacity to solve the mystery of her circumstance. I love to be surprised and I was when I found out that the ship was right there on earth. I felt bad when Zeno died with so much regret. Doerr obviously cares a lot about the environment and the devastating result of climate change.

    Have you googled the NPR and CBS This morning interviews? They give great insight into why he writes from a young person's perspective.

    Libraries have been key players in a lot of current fiction, but this one tops all the others. The respect that Doerr gives librarians in this just gave me so much joy. It was really an uplifting book. At one point someone says there is no life without death or peace without war. And there was also a message that if we look, we will find that everywhere on earth there are people who live glorious lives while their neighbors suffer horrendously. These are tough messages, but Doerr manages to tell them in a beautifully optimistic story.

    Finally, I had just listened to About Grace by Doerr. No one talks about it. It touches on a lot of the same topics and takes you all over. The only tough thing is the main character is not typical and makes some poor choices. When I finished I thought I would never forget his odyssey though.

    Merry Christmas to you and your family,

    1. I loved the book, too, but I now need to follow up on some of your additional research on the topics, interviews with the author, etc. Thanks for your feedback.

  14. I'm glad you liked this one and that it wasn't too difficult to follow the 5 stories across time. Despite it's longness, I'm considering it for 2022. Quite a few readers liked it.


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