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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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9569113,966 (4.43)137
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.

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English (91)  Dutch (2)  German (1)  All languages (94)
Showing 1-5 of 91 (next | show all)
So many friends on LibraryThing have recommended this book to me, and one went so far as to send me a copy of the trade paperback (thanks, Amber!) It took me entirely too long to get around to it, but once I did I understood entirely the enthusiasm.

The focus of the story is on Cyril Avery (who is not, his adoptive parents are quick to tell anyone who asks, a real Avery). Cyril’s teenage single mother is literally thrown out of church and her home village in 1945 when the priest learns she has gotten pregnant and ended up in Dublin, where she sets up an unconventional household with two gay men. Once she gives Cyril up, she loses touch with Cyril for many years, although their lives have a way of crossing at intervals, with neither of them any the wiser about who the other is. This aspect of the narrative was amusing but strained credulity quite a bit for me.

The narrative follows Cyril and his adventures — or more accurately his misadventures — as he grows up and tries to find his place in a world that doesn’t value him. The story leaps forward in seven-year intervals into the 21st century. At times it seemed like a retelling of the Book of Job with an Irish brogue. Just about any calamity that can befall a young, introverted gay man and his acquaintances lands on poor Cyril and friends. But the conceit allows us to view momentous events in the history of Ireland and of gay rights worldwide through one sensitive young man’s eyes, so perhaps Boyne can be forgiven for ladling on the pathos so thickly.

In many ways, The Heart’s Invisible Furies reminded me very much of the best of John Irving’s work, in particular The World According to Garp and A Prayer for Owen Meany. Both novelists have a knack for creating quirky characters and putting crisp, eloquent words in their mouths. I’ll certainly seek out other novels by Boyne to see if the comparison holds up or is merely coincidental to this work. ( )
  rosalita | Sep 5, 2019 |
Cyril Avery narrates the story of his life from the day his unmarried and pregnant 16 year old Irish mother is exiled from her church, family, and town to the day he's preparing to die as an elderly man. Cyril spends the early part of his life dealing with his unusual adoptive parents and hiding his homosexuality. He spends the middle part of his life dealing with the repercussions his lies have had on his most important relationships to date. Facing up to his lies and his hurtful actions allows Cyril to finally become part of a real, and very unusual, family. The story is set in Dublin, Amsterdam, and New York City. Topics covered include the role of the Catholic Church in Irish life, homosexuality, sex trafficking, the AIDS crisis, violence against homosexuals, Irish literature, adoption, and murder.
This book will make you feel sad, angry and happy - sometimes all at once. Recommended. ( )
1 vote VioletBramble | May 28, 2019 |
From the beginning you know that things are not going to go well. It's 1945 in rural County Cork, Ireland and 16 year old Catherine Goggin is in big trouble. She is shamed from the pulpit of the only church she has ever known...thrown out of the parish...sent from her home and family...and left to make it on her own... all because of her unborn child. At this point the story is told from the viewpoint of that child...now a man He had been adopted by an unlikely couple...Maude and Charles Avery who have wealth and prestige but little love for this little boy, Cyril. Cyril has problems of his own since he learned early on that he is gay. This is not an easy thing to be in conservative Catholic Ireland. The book spans the decades of Cyril's life...the good... the bad...the tragic...and the hilarious, as he learns who he is and the real meaning of love and family. It is also a book about Ireland and the astounding and profound social changes the country underwent from 1945 to present day. ( )
  Carol420 | May 15, 2019 |
I actually listened on audible, the narrator was fantastic. The seven year stages of life and the way thing cycle forward and back in a person’s life is so beautifully told. The way the world changes and doesn’t change. I loved this tale from beginning to end. Such wit, it takes great talent to carry readers along without lapses on such a journey. ( )
  JeanneBlasberg | Apr 30, 2019 |
The life story of Cyril Avery from conception to old age spans from 1945 to 2015. In a heavily religious and repressive Ireland his unmarried and pregnant mother is publicly denounced as a whore by the parish priest in front of the congregation, and banished. Baby Cyril is adopted by an eccentric Dublin couple who treat him like a houseguest rather than a real son. During his life journey, Cyril makes peace with being a gay man and all the mistakes he has made during his life. Fabulous characters, fabulous writing, so worth reading. ( )
  DebbieMcCauley | Apr 28, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 91 (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 that he had fathered two children by 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.

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