ABBEY'S BOOKSELLER PICK ----- It's been a few years since the brilliant All the Light We Cannot See but this great big hefty novel is well worth the wait. As with Light there are multiple characters' storylines weaving in and out, but as Doerr prefigures the chapters with the location and year, it is very easy to keep all the strands separate. There is Konstance, on board a spaceship travelling towards a planet she will never set foot upon. There is Anna, in Constantinople in 1439 to 1452, and Omeir in the Rhodope Mountains of Bulgaria in the same years. And there is Seymour in the early years of the 21st century, and Zeno whose quietly uneventful life stretches from the depression years mostly spent in Ohio, but with emphasis on the 20th of February 2020 when he is helping a group of primary school kids rehearse for a play they are performing the next night in their local library.
What links all these characters in their different eras, is a story from the ancient Greek - Diogenes' Cloud Cuckoo Land, which tells of the misadventures and travels of Aethon, a simple shepherd searching for a better life. Extracts of this fabled story introduce each part of the narratives, and it is a testament to Doerr's skills as a writer, that all these elements come together in a satisfying, and ultimately redemptive way. At times the stories are truly heartbreaking, and take place in very dark times, but the power of words and how story-telling (and the guardians of this knowledge - librarians) link people through the ages is the centre of this beautiful novel. I cannot recommend it highly enough - and as the prologue says: "Stranger, whoever you are, open this to learn what will amaze you." Lindy
Anthony Doerr is the author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel All the Light We Cannot See, currently in development as a Netflix limited series. He is also the author of two short story collections, Memory Wall and The Shell Collector; the novel About Grace; and the memoir Four Seasons in Rome, all published by 4th Estate. He has won five O. Henry Prizes, the Rome Prize, the New York Public Library's Young Lions Award, the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Fiction, a Guggenheim Fellowship and the Story Prize. Doerr lives in Boise, Idaho, with his wife and two sons.
Praise for Cloud Cuckoo Land: 'Pulitzer Prize-winner Anthony Doerr's new novel traverses time and space, unifying his characters through a text written by Diogenes in the first century AD. Cloud Cuckoo Land begins there and sweeps through the millennia in a huge, imaginative arc that celebrates the outsiders, the writers and the keepers of books. An ultimately hopeful and life-affirming novel about the essence of love, literature and art' Irish Independent 'This is a dazzling epic of love, war and the joy of books - one for David Mitchell fans' Guardian Praise for All the Light We Cannot See: 'Far more than a conventional war story, It's a tightly focused epic ... Doerr paints with a rich palette, using prose that resonates deeply and conveys the ephemera of daily existence along with high drama, sadness and hope ... A bittersweet and moving novel that lingers in the mind' Daily Mail 'An epic work about bravery and the power of attachment' Rose Tremain, Observer, Books of the Year 'An epic and a masterpiece' Justin Cartwright, Observer 'This novel will be a piece of luck for anyone with a long plane journey or beach holiday ahead. It is such a page-turner, entirely absorbing... magnificent' Guardian 'Doerr can bring a scene to life in a single paragraph ... Delicate and moving ... the novel takes hold and will not easily let go' The Times 'Boy meets girl in Anthony Doerr's hauntingly beautiful new book, but the circumstances are as elegantly circuitous as they can be' The New York Times 'I'm not sure I will read a better novel this year ... Enthrallingly told, beautifully written and so emotionally plangent that some passages bring tears' Washington Post