Friday, 8 September 2017

The Heart's Invisible Furies

Author: John Boyne
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Type: Trade Paperback
Pages: 580
Source: Publisher
Publisher: Hogarth Press
First Published: August 11, 2017
First Line: "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 alter of the Church of Our Lady, Star of the Sea, in the parish of Goleen, West Cork, and denounced my mother as a whore."

Book Description from GoodReadsFrom the beloved New York Times bestselling author of The Boy In the Striped Pajamas, a sweeping, heartfelt saga about the course of one man's life, beginning and ending in post-war Ireland

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 many years 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.

Disclaimer: My sincere thanks to Hogarth Press for providing me with a complimentary paperback copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

My Rating: 5 stars

My Review: I loved this book. 

It has been awhile since I've felt such a connection to a book and become so totally immersed in a character. Yes, it's that good and I was hooked from the first line (see above). The Heart's Invisible Furies is an honest and eye-opening look at the complicated life of an Irish man who has forever felt unmoored in his life. 

This epic read spans 7 decades of the life of Cyril Avery (although he's not a 'real' Avery!) as he struggles to find himself and the courage to show the world who he is. Some choices were made for him, others by him. Some were good decisions, some had me shaking my head and others hurt my heart but I always felt in his corner.

Boyne's storytelling hits a whole new high as he adeptly uses foreshadowing to tease his readers with tidbits about Cyril's future. Never before have I read a book that gives such brilliant hints about its characters and plot that got my attention and intrigued me without giving too much away or interrupting the flow of the plot. Sure, there were a few all-too-convenient crossovers with characters but these secondary characters were such pivotal parts of the book and I looked forward to seeing who would reappear in Cyril's life.

This story is about finding oneself and the many different relationships we have in our lives - the messy, loving, complicated, fractured, soul-crushing and those precious bonds that heal. It also has hilarious, giggle-out-loud, dry humour which is interspersed with a raw, honest look at a man struggling to find out who he is within the confines of his conservative Irish culture and the opinionated and often bigoted views of the Catholic church. Boyne doesn't shy away from big issues, one of which was the Catholic Church's hold over Ireland and its hypocrisy. Other issues raised are IRA violence, the prejudice and injustice against the gay population and the terror and misinformation about the AIDS epidemic. 

This book had me laughing, almost in tears, angry and shocked. Cyril is a complicated character whose stumbles and successes always rang true to his character. Readers will be engrossed in his struggle to find himself with Boyne's emotional, laugh-out-loud funny and engaging writing pulling them along the way. Cyril is a lost soul that readers can't help but cheer on.

I highly recommend this book.

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