Based on the back cover blurb and any previous reading of Anthony Doerr, you know from the very outset that he is going to weave together the various strands of Cloud Cuckoo Land into a cohesive conclusion. Bow neatly tied, thank you very much.
And he does.
However, there are other aspects of the novel I admire more than this thread-tying ability. The pace is ‘reasonable’ i.e. not too frenetic, not too slow (though I suspect some impatient readers may complain that it is ‘pedestrian’). In weaving the stories together, he doesn’t fall into the trap of saying “I’ll write about A, then B, then C, D, E – repeat”. Such formulaic structuring can make a book monotonous, so I was glad to see none of that here. And his characters are well-drawn, distinctive; they fit comfortably in their own timeframes.
I confess I bought Cloud Cuckoo Land and had it standing on my bedside table for a while, a little daunted by the 400+ pages. But then it needed to be that long to tell all the stories – and to weave them together…