The news that Anthony Doerr had a new book out was cause enough for celebration, but to discover that it’s dedicated to ‘the librarians then, now, and in the years to come’, made a book review of Cloud Cuckoo Land the only choice for December.
The narrative whirls between centuries; first in future space, then an ancient Greek text, now a library in 2020, then medieval Constantinople…. It could make you dizzy, except for an early inkling that all the threads are linked. So that same perplexity propels you on, leaping through chapters in faith.
How knowledge is stored and kept safe is the central motif running through to the end.
‘A text – a book – is a resting place for the memories of people who have lived before. A way for the memory to stay fixed after the soul has traveled on’ explains an old man to a girl who has just learnt to read.
Elizabeth Knox, in her review in The Guardian, observes that when any book within Cloud Cuckoo Land is read, ‘the reading and sharing is always an act of love’.
We understand Cloud Cuckoo Land to be a place of unrealistic idealism, and anyone who lives there to be crazy. What does that imply for those who hold their hope in books?
I recommend this as top choice for Jolabokaflod, the excellent Icelandic tradition of a Christmas Eve ‘book flood’, when family and friends give the gift of good reads.
Cloud Cuckoo Land, by Anthony Doerr, is published by 4th Estate.
‘All The Light We Cannot See’, by the same author, is also excellent.
To purchase a copy with a 10% discount, from Golden Hare Books, click on this link and use the code bookbinderbookreview008 until 3rd January 2022.