Book Review – The Hearts Invisible Furies by John Boyne
A book that will have you laughing one minute and in floods of tears the next. An incredibly moving, emotional, page-turning rollercoaster. You’ll be sad when it’s over.
“If there is one thing I’ve learned in more than seven decades of life, it’s that the world is a completely fucked-up place. You never know what’s around the corner and it’s often something unpleasant.”
Cyril Avery is not a real Avery or at least that’s what his adoptive parents tell him. And he never will be. But if he isn’t a real Avery, then who is he?
Born out of wedlock to a teenage girl cast out from her rural Irish community and adopted by a well-to-do if eccentric Dublin couple via the intervention of a hunchbacked Redemptorist nun, Cyril is adrift in the world, anchored only tenuously by his heartfelt friendship with the infinitely more glamourous and dangerous Julian Woodbead.
At the mercy of fortune and coincidence, he will spend a lifetime coming to know himself and where he came from – and over his three score years and ten, will struggle to discover an identity, a home, a country and much more.
In this, Boyne’s most transcendent work to date, we are shown the story of Ireland from the 1940s to today through the eyes of one ordinary man. The Heart’s Invisible Furies is a novel to make you laugh and cry while reminding us all of the redemptive power of the human spirit.
This book is something very, very special and after being completely emotionally invested I can honestly say that I am gutted to be finished with it.
Most of you will know of John Boyne as the author of The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas.
That was good.
This is a masterpiece.
The book is told from the main character, Cyril’s point of view and it follows his story literally from his conception right through to old age.
Cyril was born out of wedlock to a 16 year old girl and then adopted by a rather strange but very wealthy couple after his mother Catherine is denounced by the church, disowned by her family and thrown from her hometown with nowhere to go.
“Long before we discovered that he had fathered two children by two different women, one in Drimoleague and one in Clonakilty, Father James Monroe stood on the altar of the Church of Our Lady, Star of the Sea, in the parish of Goleen, West Cork, and denounced my mother as a whore.”
In 1940’s Ireland, the catholic priests are in charge of the communities and the country is at their mercy. A married couple walking hand in hand would be frowned upon by the church because it may “encourage wantonness” amongst the young ones. Being gay is illegal and to be caught is to be imprisoned at best, beaten up or even murdered on the street at worst.
As Cyril grows up he quickly learns that he is not like other boys his age. He meets his lifelong best friend Julian at the age of 7 and they are complete polar opposites. Julian is sex-mad. He loves the ladies even at a young age and talks about how he “wants to be a pervert when he grows up”. Cyril has no interest in women though and finds himself falling completely in love with his friend Julian.
“What’s a pervert?’ I asked.
‘It’s someone who’s a sex maniac,’ he explained.
‘I’m going to be a pervert when I grow up,’ he continued.
‘So am I,’ I said, eager to please. ‘Perhaps we could be perverts together.’
You will very quickly learn that gay men are not well tolerated in Ireland by anyone. This book is absolutely rife with sexism and homophobia, discrimination and violence. It makes you sick to your stomach to read it at some points but it is all incredibly accurate and it clearly shows what living in Ireland during those times was like.
This causes so much heartache in the long run and I will not go into great detail because I do not want to spoil to plot. Let’s just say that Cyril’s life does not unfold the way he would like it to and he hurts himself as well as a lot of other people along the way through fear of being honest about who he is.
Cyril is hilarious, his one-liners are absolutely amazing and had me laughing out loud multiple times.
All Cyril wants is to live and love just like everyone else and the more you read the more you want things to work out for him.
The writing was absolutely amazing. I expected this to be a difficult book to read but it wasn’t at all. The writing flows really well and is very easy to understand. The book is really long but it is a real page-turner and you become so emotionally invested that it’s all over before you know it.
I wish I could give more than 5 stars because it is so deserving. It is a powerful book and one that I highly recommend to anyone who for some reason has not read it yet.
Have you read this book? What did you think? Share your thoughts in the comments below and let’s discuss! ♥