Cloud Cuckoo Land: A Novel Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
“If you’re looking for a superb novel, look no further.” (The Washington Post)
The instant New York Times bestseller and finalist for the 2021 National Book Award is “wildly inventive, a humane and uplifting book for adults that’s infused with the magic of childhood reading experiences.” (The New York Times Book Review)
From the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of All the Light We Cannot See, perhaps the most best-selling and beloved literary fiction of our time, comes Cloud Cuckoo Land.
Set in Constantinople in the 15th century, in a small town in present-day Idaho, and on an interstellar ship decades from now, Anthony Doerr’s gorgeous third novel is a triumph of imagination and compassion, a soaring story about children on the cusp of adulthood in worlds in peril, who find resilience, hope - and a book. In Cloud Cuckoo Land, Doerr has created a magnificent tapestry of times and places that reflects our vast interconnectedness - with other species, with each other, with those who lived before us, and with those who will be here after we’re gone.
Thirteen-year-old Anna, an orphan, lives inside the formidable walls of Constantinople in a house of women who make their living embroidering the robes of priests. Restless, insatiably curious, Anna learns to read, and in this ancient city, famous for its libraries, she finds a book, the story of Aethon, who longs to be turned into a bird so that he can fly to a utopian paradise in the sky. This she reads to her ailing sister as the walls of the only place she has known are bombarded in the great siege of Constantinople. Outside the walls is Omeir, a village boy, miles from home, conscripted with his beloved oxen into the invading army. His path and Anna’s will cross.
Five hundred years later, in a library in Idaho, octogenarian Zeno, who learned Greek as a prisoner of war, rehearses five children in a play adaptation of Aethon’s story, preserved against all odds through centuries. Tucked among the library shelves is a bomb, planted by a troubled, idealistic teenager, Seymour. This is another siege. And in a not-so-distant future, on the interstellar ship Argos, Konstance is alone in a vault, copying on scraps of sacking the story of Aethon, told to her by her father. She has never set foot on our planet.
Like Marie-Laure and Werner in All the Light We Cannot See, Anna, Omeir, Seymour, Zeno, and Konstance are dreamers and outsiders who find resourcefulness and hope in the midst of gravest danger. Their lives are gloriously intertwined. Doerr’s dazzling imagination transports us to worlds so dramatic and immersive that we forget, for a time, our own. 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.
From the National Book Award finalist citation:
“From the 15th century to the future, the five protagonists in Anthony Doerr’s brilliant Cloud Cuckoo Land come together astonishingly in the stories they make of their lives, rewritten by time and circumstance. This marvelous book is like an astrolabe or an armillary sphere; a navigation instrument engineered to discover the world. Urgent, rife with relevance and compassion, Doerr’s novel affirms the necessity of the made thing, the capacious imagination, and storytelling.”
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|Listening Length||14 hours and 52 minutes|
|Narrator||Marin Ireland, Simon Jones|
|Whispersync for Voice||Ready|
|Audible.com Release Date||September 28, 2021|
|Publisher||Simon & Schuster Audio|
|Best Sellers Rank||
#51 in Audible Books & Originals (See Top 100 in Audible Books & Originals)
#2 in Metaphysical & Visionary Fiction (Audible Books & Originals)
#3 in Historical Fiction (Audible Books & Originals)
#5 in Metaphysical & Visionary Fiction (Books)
Reviews with images
Top reviews from the United States
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How much should I write? There is a magic in discovering it for yourself, how all these pieces fit together to answer the most essential question we are all facing in 2021: is the world ending? And if so, how do we go on?
Anthony Doerr addresses this question in no expected ways: by telling the story of Anna, an orphan living behind the walls of Constantinople under siege in 1409, who climbs a rock wall to discover hidden treasures; Omeir, a "demon" boy with a cleft palate, who is conscripted into the invading army because of the strength of his beloved oxen Tree and Moonlight; the story of Seymour in Idaho 2020, a budding environmental terrorist after the loss of his beloved great owl friend; and of Zeno, an 86 year old man hiding in the library as Seymour plants his bomb; and of Konstance, on a space station hundreds of years after the end of Earth, hurtling towards a planet that she will never live to see.
And interwoven among them all, a myth of Aegon, the shepherd who longs for a better world, who sets off to find that elusive Eden in the sky, Cloud Cuckoo Land.
It reads like three stories in one; the story of Constantinople, Omeir and Anna; of Idaho, Zeno and Seymour, and of the space station, with Konstance; and amidst them all, the myth of Aegon.
There is writing so gorgeous that I had to stop and read it again; writing, especially, about the power of story itself, how stories can be magic, can save our lives, can give our lives meaning.
Above all else, this is a story about our longing for a better world, what we owe to each other in this one, and whether it is possible -- even a little bit possible --- to hope, in the face of unimaginable hardship, that a better world might still exist, maybe even, possibly, not so far away as Cloud Cuckoo Land, not so far away as the clouds in the sky.
Right from the start the book jumps around to different times and places, introducing you to the main characters. It may be a little challenging to keep up with each of the different groups of characters at first, but stick with it (and take notes if you need to), because things become easier to follow as the book goes on. It becomes clear that the common thread here is that all of the characters have become enthralled with the story of Aethon, a tale written down by an ancient Greek author named Diogenes. Diogenes had himself found the story written down on tablets in a mysterious tomb, and it tells of a man that wished that he could be transformed into a bird in order to reach a mystical utopian city in the sky.
Most of the action in the story takes place in three different time periods: the siege of Constantinople in 1453, a library in Idaho in the present day, and aboard an interstellar ship in the future. Doerr jumps back and forth, describing the conflicts and difficult situations that these characters face, while slowly fleshing out the similarities and describing how Aethon's story affects each of them.
This is a fairly long book and it took a while to finish, but the pacing was so good that it never really felt boring. I was slightly more invested in the story of Konstance and her futuristic journey than the other characters, but there was enough action and character development that kept me interested throughout the book. The author makes some great points in this book, and connects everything together in a very clever and well written story. I also like how the stories were wrapped up, although the way Konstance's part is concluded was a little less satisfying than the others for me.
Overall, I enjoyed the book, and I feel like it is somewhat of a love letter to writers, readers, and librarians; and a excellent story about the power of stories. We all might be more similar than we think after all.
Top reviews from other countries
...but.... but, but... when done right, a slow-builder that promises much can sometime deliver most. Multiple stories, when told right, can deliver multiple times the load. Cloud Cuckoo Land is ABSOLUTELY a quality read that doesn't fail to deliver and the mythical tale of Aethon's adventures tie it all together beautifully, even as it seems possibly "annoyingly quirky" to begin with.
There aren't too many "all in one" works of fiction these days, with a start, a middle and and end. It used be that fiction had this to aim for at least, but nowadays never-ending book-series seem the order of the day. To my mind, the best fiction is a story that builds to a knockout ending that leaves you dazed (and likely confused) by the end. This IS such a tale.
I still don't know if it all makes sense (well, I kind of know it doesn't / also of course it does) - but it doesn't matter. I still haven't thought enough about it to figure out if there are some inconsistencies or a coincidence-too-far in places. Part of me is looking forward to thinking on it for a long time to come and part of me doesn't want to over-analyse it. There's a lot to digest here, but sometimes, like a good cake, it's best to gorge and enjoy rather than spend time dissecting the ingredients, trying to find an element that could be eliminated. The little tangy taste you get from an isolated under-ripe raspberry can be just what's needed to raise the flavour of a slightly-too-musky dark chocolate. And maybe you don't like cream, but when it has just the right consistency, with just the right flavours flowing through, the whole is many times more than the sum of its parts.
That's not to put-down the individual parts of this book. Each, in turn is magnificently told and a lovely read. But, stitched together with "Diogenes's" thread, the whole is multiple times more special.
Thank you for restoring my faith in modern fiction.
Even though this is a long book, the many separate chapters make it fly by.
Well worth the read.
So maybe a connecting thread is the force of major social movements on individual lives. Doerr does deal well with prejudice, whether towards someone with a cleft palate, or towards homosexuality. Otherwise, the stories are standalone and could have been told as such. Doerr's attempt to link them through common reference to a Greek tale by Diogenes is a complicated unconvincing artifice.