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The Heart's Invisible Furies by John…

The Heart's Invisible Furies

by John Boyne

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264415,071 (4.79)1



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I may be in the minority here, as I see that there are many 5-Star reviews for this one. So – it didn’t quite meet my expectations. Overall, a good story-line that at times was a bit unbelievable – too many coincidences and some subject matter that was overemphasized. Although I understand that the constant use of the phrases “adoptive parents” “adoptive mother” and “adoptive father” was intended, it just didn’t work for me. In addition, I grew more interested in the peripheral characters than the protagonist. IMHO, some editing would have helped immensely. Still, I’m glad I read it as this was my first John Boyne book. ( )
  myra.reads | Apr 22, 2017 |
I'm a huge fan of John Boyne's writing. Although probably best known for The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, he's also written Crippen, This House is Haunted, A History of Loneliness and many more. What links his books is the sheer quality of the writing, what sets them apart is they are all so different. He's such a versatile writer.

I understand that Boyne has avoided writing about his native Ireland in the past but he did venture there in A History of Loneliness, his last novel. However, in The Heart's Invisible Furies he places Ireland at the very heart of the story and doesn't hold back. At the end there is a note which finishes with a comment that this is considered to be his most ambitious work to date and I would most definitely agree with that.

The book tells the story of Cyril Avery (not a real Avery, as his adoptive parents keep reminding him) almost from conception to the age of 70. Cyril is a bit hapless and seems to lurch from one disaster to another but there is also a real sense of sadness for the reader. Cyril is homosexual in a country that can barely imagine such a thing, let alone tolerate it. He struggles to deal with his feelings and longs to be free of his shackles. The influence of the Catholic Church is in no doubt here throughout this book.

There is some truly fantastic writing. I laughed out loud many times and I have to quote a couple of extracts because it's just inspired writing.

"....and as he turned his head away he noticed me sitting outside and offered an apologetic wave, four of his fingers dancing despondently in the air like an imprisoned pianist forced to play one of Chopin's more depressing sonatas from memory."

" 'Can I help you?' asked Maude, turning to her with all the warmth of Lizzie Borden dropping in to say goodnight to her parents."

Cyril is a great protagonist. Sometimes I just wanted to shake my head at him, other times I was rooting for him. But I liked him immensely. He's a good guy, mostly a victim of his circumstances.

As the story commenced and I had almost 600 pages of reading ahead of me I did briefly wonder if this would be the one book by John Boyne that wouldn't quite hit the spot for me but after a slightly slow start I was absolutely engrossed.

The Heart's Invisible Furies is one epic tale of a life with many ups and downs. There are some amazing coincidences in the story but instead of making me think it was a bit unrealistic, I actually loved how it all came together. Boyne is unflinching in his searing depiction of his country and its people. The book covers many important events such as 9/11 and the referendum in 2015 to legalise gay marriage. It's Cyril's memoir, his life. I absolutely adored it. There are some authors who can do no wrong for me and Boyne is one of them. ( )
  nicx27 | Feb 8, 2017 |
My first and only previous encounter with John Boyne was the excellent young adult story "The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas". So when the opportunity arose and I was gifted early review status on "The Heart's Invisible Furies" I was happy to accept, read and review....and I am so glad I did!.

This is a work of great literary intent with bawdy undertones, an easy assimilated tale about the life of Cyril Avery, born out of wedlock and immediately given up for adoption. The story spans a period from the mid 1940's and moves at a ferocious pace up until the present and relayed to the reader in bite size 7 year chunks. Even though the novel stretches to some 600 pages once Boyne grabs your attention from the opening paragraph his colourful and descriptive prose holds you in awe until the final and very fitting conclusion.

Adoptive wealthy parents Charles and Maud guide the young Cyril in his early infant years. A childhood friend Julian Woodbead allows Cyril to discover and question his own sexuality. This soon leads to a realization that will form part of his decision making throughout his life. From Dublin to the waterways of Amsterdam, the streets of New York and finally returning to Dublin we travel with Cyril experiencing the good times the bad, the sad, the funny and the indifferent. Boyne explores successfully and with great humour and gusto attitudes of bigotry and tolerance against the background of a god fearing catholic population, an aids frightened society, and a world in panic immediately following the events of 9/11. At times you will want to laugh out loud or perhaps shed a tear.

I can honestly say that I have rarely been so moved by a story, the eloquent use of language, and the unveiling and interpretation of the issues raised and debated. Let's enjoy a few moments of the John Boyne magic...... "Cork City itself, a place she had never visited but that her father had always said was filled with gamblers, Protestants and drunkards"........"one man had been accused of exposing himself on the Milltown Road but the charges had been dismissed as the girl had been a Protestant"........"It was 1959, after all. I knew almost nothing of homosexuality, except for the fact that to act on such urges was a criminal act in Ireland that could result in a jail sentence, unless of course you were a priest, in which case it was a perk of the job.".........."Christ alive, said the sergeant, shaking his head in disbelief. I never heard of such a thing. What type of a woman would do something like that?.......The very best type , said Charles."

This book to me celebrates the sheer joy of the printed word. Life, love and loss it is all here in a 600 page extraordinary extravaganza! If you love to read and you love books then "The Heart's Invisible Furies" is sheer magic...so buy, cherish and appreciate as you are unlikely to read anything better this year, or possibly any year. A great big thanks to the good people at netgalley for this early opportunity to read and review this masterpiece in return for an honest review and that is what I have written. ( )
  runner56 | Jan 13, 2017 |
Cyril Avery is a victim of circumstances and his own inclinations,having the misfortune to be born to an unwed sixteen year old mother in an intolerant, unforgiving priest ruled Ireland of 1945. Given up for adoption and raised by remote, unconventional parents, he lacked little other than love and lived his early years infatuated with the similarly aged, handsome and charismatic Julian, his best friend, the sort that would come out smelling of roses even after falling in a heap of cow dung. Forced by the attitudes of the time to deny or hide his true inclinations Cyril gets himself into a number of awkward, even dangerous situations. And so we follow Cyril as he relates his exploit in stages of seven years from his birth up to 2015.

Cyril has no delusions about himself, and is honest about his failings and shortcomings, perhaps depicting himself as worse than he really is as we infer from the way others interact with him. That he discovers his birth mother we know from the opening pages, how and when we have to wait to discover, in the meantime we can enjoy following Cyril through his eventful life, the high points and the tragedies. Despite its apparent length the story moves quickly. This is partly due to the seven year jumps in his account (yet it is in no way disjointed), but primarily down to the quality of the writing. It is often very humorous, they are laugh out loud moments as well as much subtle humour, some of the dialogues are a delight. But there are also deeply moving passages that will bring you close to tears.

To say I enjoyed this novel is an understatement, It must rank high among the very best I have read, I unreservedly loved it. Thank you John Boyne. ( )
  presto | Dec 21, 2016 |
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