Just Read: The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne

I really can’t say what’s gotten into me this first half of January. I thought Pachinko was going to be an endeavor, so naturally I chose to follow it up with another long novel. The Hearts Invisible Furies clocks in at 582 pages, but like Pachinko, reading it goes surprisingly quickly. This is in large part due to Boyne’s utterly charming main character, Cyril Avery, who is not a real Avery as his adoptive father Charles constantly reminds him.

Unlike Panchinko, which spans several generations, The Hearts Invisible Furies follows Cyril through his entire live, starting in the womb and then checking in every 7 years. In the first chapter, we meet Catherine Groggin, another sixteen year old girl caught with the misfortune of carrying a child out of wedlock. Unlike Sunja, no traveling minister arrives to save her, and when her pregnancy is discovered, the local priest banishes her from their rural Irish community of Goleen. Catherine hops a bus to Dublin, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Cyril’s adoptive parents aren’t cruel, but they aren’t kind, either. The most favorable adjective to describe them would be “detached,” although by modern standards, their disinterest in Cyril borders on the abusive. When Julian Woodbead, a firecracker of a child, enters Cyril’s life, it’s only natural that Cyril falls deeply in love with him. Unfortunately for Cyril, he lives in early-1900s Ireland, where being gay is still seen as a sin. Over the course of the novel, we watch Cyril grapple with his identity as he tries to determine where he fits in inside a country that doesn’t want him.

Boyne’s writing is so smart and delightful to read, and although the story has many laugh-out-loud, light-hearted moments, it doesn’t mean that Cyril’s life is an easy one. Boyne doesn’t hold back any punches as he depicts the real-life consequences of living under a rigid, patriarchal society. We watch Cyril make decisions bordering on cruelty, but given the context of the time, it’s easy to understand why he makes them.

The Hearts Invisible Furies was recommended to me by an old college friend, and I am so glad to have read it. Now onto Calyspo and This Clumsy Living!

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