“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 glamorous 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. I am sometimes hesitant to read books that come so highly recommended because I worry that I will have unrealistic expectations for them. I didn’t need to worry about that with The Heart’s Invisible Furies. It truly was everything the reviews said it was, and more. It is a long book, almost 600 pages and is one that comes together over time but is also hard to put down.
“I remember a friend of mine once telling me that we hate what we fear in ourselves,”
It is the story of Cyril who is a gay man born into extremely conservative Ireland in the 1940s. It is a powerful and moving story that intertwines Cyril’s life with the backdrop of Ireland in the 20th century and the long and difficult history of LGBT rights. It covers so much…friendship, family, loss, violence, politics, religion, and prejudice. It follows Cyril from conception through old age in seven-year intervals. Boyne is able to share this sometimes overwhelmingly sad story with humor which I found to be the most wonderful balance as a reader. It had many moments of wit intertwined with some pretty horrific life events for Cyril and those who became his family.
“You’re a bit of an oddball, Jonathan,’ I said. ‘Has anyone ever told you that?’
‘Nineteen people this year alone,’ he said. ‘And it’s only May.”
The characters were perfectly imperfect and the flaws made the story what it was. There were times of mourning and grief and there were many lessons learned along the way.
“Maybe there were no villains in my mother’s story at all. Just men and women, trying to do their best by each other. And failing.”
Cyril is an ordinary man with a very unordinary life and I loved watching the process of him finding not only who he was all along but also the road to self-love and acceptance. This book, even with its time of heartbreak, is about love, all kinds of love. It’s about what makes a family and how circumstances that are sometimes out of our own control can totally change our lives.
This book was thought-provoking and truly one of a kind. I will remember it forever and although at times it was hard to read, I am so happy I did.