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The Heart's Invisible Furies: A Novel by…
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The Heart's Invisible Furies: A Novel (2017)

by John Boyne

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Showing 1-5 of 70 (next | show all)
The Heart’s Invisible Furies has a familiar premise. A young girl in rural Ireland is pregnant and is driven out of her community by the priest. However, this novel does not tell the tale you might expect.

Cyril Avery is the child, born in 1945, so the story of post-war Ireland and his own are inextricably linked. He is adopted by an affluent, eccentric and colourful couple in Dublin – the determinedly obscure author Maude Avery and her husband Charles who is an exuberantly corrupt banker. They are amiable but remote and are always careful to remind Cyril that he is their adoptive son.

His life changes when he and Julian Woodbead meet at the age of seven. Julian is already handsome, charismatic and worldly beyond his years and Cyril becomes infatuated with him. Julian and his family will remain intertwined with Cyril throughout his life.

Cyril’s adoption into a privileged circle and his employment at the Dáil mean he finds himself at the heart of a number of the major events affecting Ireland and the wider world. We follow him throughout his life as he lives through political and social upheaval.

Cyril is gay at a time when it is both a criminal offence and socially unacceptable, in a society which is dominated by the Catholic Church. He struggles to hide his sexuality from the significant people in his life. His inability to be honest about himself has dramatically – sometimes comically – bad consequences at a number of points in the book. Boyne leaves space for us to question whether Cyril is purely a victim or whether he bears some responsibility for this failure of courage.

Some of the secondary characters are also fascinating. I found the portrait of Maude Avery particularly poignant. To Cyril she is cool and remote but the picture of her that emerges from her work is quite different. There are also a number of cameos of real historical figures which are entertaining – including a drunk Brendan Behan.

The book opens with Cyril telling us that he eventually comes to know his birth mother, and tantalisingly their paths cross a number of times throughout their life before they are finally reunited. The drama for the reader comes not from if but when and how.

This is a warm, immersive and humorous account of one man’s life from his birth in disgrace in a repressive society, to the legalising of gay marriage in his old age. It does not gloss over the horrors that many people face because of prejudice but it is also brimful of humanity and hope.
*
I received a copy of The Heart’s Invisible Furies from the publisher via Netgalley.
This review first appeared on my blog katevane.com/blog ( )
  KateVane | Aug 17, 2018 |
Is a pretty good story. I was suppose to read it by parts for a book club but I just couldn't stop and read it in just a few seats. I like how the author describe the places that the story takes place, how he does not pretend to make things looks better that what they were and shows the characters through different decades without going in too many details that makes me lose interest. It also shows the power of the church in Ireland and how it takes decades to be able to change the mentality of a country. ( )
  CaroPi | Aug 9, 2018 |
This is a joyous, big-hearted book dealing with a terrible history of laws, violence and prejudice against gay people. It is heart-breaking in places and does not pull its punches, but it's also gentle and very funny. I read the whole thing far too fast as I couldn't put it down, so really must re-read it sometime to savour it. ( )
  AlisonSakai | Aug 5, 2018 |
I've wanted to read this one for a while but the long books intimidate me. Don't judge. I know I'm not alone. My feelings regarding long books are that my TBR list is soooooo long and I could read 2 (regular sized) books to 1 long one. And, what if I don't end up liking it and it turns out to be a waste of my time so I pretty much avoid them. That's when I decided to listen to this on audio when I drive to work, crochet and make dinner. It doesn't take away from my actual reading since I listen only when I can't actually read.

It was okay. I didn't love it. I don't understand the high ratings as really not much happened. I like stories with more grit and action. This was pretty much just a story of a man's [Cyril Avery] life. A long, long story. And if you took out the word 'adoptive', you could probably cut out a few pages. Way more sex and sex talk than I expected and let's not mention all the 'bad' words. I did like Cyril, he was a good man. ( )
  Sharn | Jul 28, 2018 |
A book spanning an Irish gay man's lifetime with chapters skipping every seven years. It took a few chapters for me to not feel irritated with the main character, but as the character grew and matured, he became someone with who you could understand and empathize. The book spanned from 1945 to 2015. The culture and beliefs of those time periods and different settings about homosexuality rang very true. Well written-believable. Enjoyed very much. ( )
1 vote sh7980 | Jul 20, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 70 (next | show all)
The Heart’s Invisible Furies, Boyne’s tiende roman voor volwassenen, vertelt ook een verhaal dat nooit gebeurd zou kunnen zijn, daarvoor hangt het te veel van toevalligheden aan elkaar. Toch blijf je bereid je ongeloof op te schorten, omdat je wilt weten hoe het verder gaat. Hoe de hoofdpersoon zich nu weer gaat redden uit de moeilijke situatie waarin hij, meestal door zijn eigen domme gedrag of dat van iemand anders, is terechtgekomen. En of hij zijn echte moeder ooit gaat vinden.
Dat Boyne de puzzelstukjes veel te mooi in elkaar laat vallen, vergeef je hem. Hij trakteert ons op zoveel spannende scènes, op grappige dialogen met mooie Iers-Engelse uitdrukkingen erin, en zelfs op ontroering. Bovendien is The Heart’s Invisible Furies, net als The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, duidelijk een bedacht verhaal, bedoeld om de wel waargebeurde geschiedenis te illustreren. Dat is Boyne dit keer heel goed gelukt.
 
John Boyne delivers an epic full of verve, humour and heart...This blending of fact and fiction recalls William Boyd’s masterly Any Human Heart, which was such a convincing fictionalised biography that it came with its own set of footnotes....At every stage, Boyne seems to be saying that the individual is more powerful than the institutional. And at its core, The Heart’s Invisible Furies aspires to be not just the tale of Cyril Avery, a man buffeted by coincidence and circumstance, but the story of Ireland itself.
 
The Heart’s Invisible Furies” is a big, sweeping novel, the epic story of one man’s life. It takes on social issues and pivotal moments in Irish history as it follows the life of one Cyril Avery, a Pip-like orphan raised by indifferent adoptive parents and forced to make his own way in a very difficult world.

Cyril, who narrates the book, is wry, observant and funny, and it is his voice that gets us through what are sometimes horrific events. ...Despite these missteps, the book never really flags, and Cyril’s intelligent, witty voice takes us all the way through to the end of his life. “The Heart’s Invisible Furies” is a brilliant, moving history of an Irishman, and of modern Ireland itself.
 
Catherine’s journey to Dublin is the beginning of a picaresque, lolloping odyssey for the individual characters and for the nation that confines them. ...Boyne’s sombre 2014 novel A History of Loneliness anatomised such corruption and abuse, and he returns to track these seismic changes in Irish society with a broader, bawdier and more comedic sweep of narrative in The Heart’s Invisible Furies....The book blazes with anger as it commemorates lives wrecked by social contempt and self‑loathing....The narrative energy flags somewhat as Cyril’s story approaches the present day. Boyne’s fictional portrait of postwar Ireland and its people is nightmarish but utterly compelling
 
The book deals with some serious subject matter – gay-bashing, political corruption, AIDS – as well as the brutal sadness of being an other in a society that does not tolerate or even acknowledge others. But too often, Boyne goes for laughs to the detriment of the narrative. Some of the passages – the dialogue in particular – are indeed funny, but by sacrificing authenticity for a cheap laugh, he does a disservice to his story...My other beef with this book, which I tried so desperately to like, is the virtual disappearance of Kitty. While she does pop up at points in the book, it is never as a fully realized character....The novel's most successful moments come when Boyne scraps the comedy shtick and paints a more realistic picture of tender connections and difficult circumstances. This could have been a smart, raging satire of Ireland, as that tremendous opening sentence promised
 
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" Am I alone in thinking that the world becomes a more repulsive place every day?" asked Marigold, glancing across the breakfast table toward her husband , Christopher. " Actually," he replied, "I find that ---" "The question was rhetorical ,"said Marigold, lighting a cigarette, her sixth of the day. " Please don't embarrass yourself by offering an opinion."

- Maude Avery , Like to the Lark, ( The Vico Press, 1950 )
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For John Irving
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Long before we discovered he that he had fathered two children by different two different women, one in Drimoleague and in Clonakilty, Father James Munroe 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.
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Adopted by a well-to-do if eccentric Dublin couple who remind him that he is not a real member of their family, Cyril embarks on a journey to find himself and where he came from, discovering his identity, a home, a country, and much more throughout a long lifetime.… (more)

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