Cloud Cuckoo Land, by Anthony Doerr
10 November 2021
Sometimes I find the synopsis of a book so intriguing I feel compelled to write about it for that reason alone. Cloud Cuckoo Land (published by Simon & Schuster, 2021), written by American author Anthony Doerr, is such a novel. The first point of interest are the settings. Constantinople, now Istanbul, in past times the capital of several large empires, is one.
Here a teenage girl called Anna lives, in the lead up to the fateful 1453 siege of the city, and final remnant of the Byzantine Empire. In her spare time, she reads a book, the story of Aethon, a man who yearned to become a bird, so he could fly to a better place. The next setting is five hundred years later, in Idaho, where Zona, a woman in her eighties, is preparing a group of children to take part in a play based on Aethon’s story. The final setting is somewhere in interstellar space, where Konstance, a resident born on a generational colony ship, is transcribing the story of Aethon, after he father recited it to her.
And here we come to the second point of interest, an ancient story that links people living centuries apart, people keeping – in their own way – Aethon and his story alive, many centuries after its original telling. While the nature of the story appeals to me, like any book, it’s not for everyone, if the comments of some GoodReads members are anything to go by.