The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne
Book Review: 4 out of 5 star rating
This is the story of one man’s life. The book starts off when 16-year-old Catherine Goggin is thrown out of the Catholic Church because she’s pregnant and unwed. Her family wants nothing to do with her and she’s forced to leave her home. She travels to Dublin where she gives birth to a baby boy who is later named Cyril. Cyril is the narrator of this book and it’s his life that the book follows. Catherine gives up her baby and Cyril is adopted by Charles and Maude Avery. Charles and Maude never abuse Cyril but don’t show him much affection either and constantly remind him that he’s not a “real” Avery. This is the story of Cyril’s life-long search for identity.
Wow, this was quite a literary journey. I don’t believe I’ve ever given 4 stars to a book that I so often wanted to stop reading. I was pulled into the story at the beginning and loved reading about Catherine. And I loved young Cyril and his friend Julian. However, it’s at this point that the author chooses to direct most of his story to the sexual desires of his characters. And it’s not just the young Cyril and Julian who are young and curious but everyone they come into contact with. At first I thought it was humorous and then I became bored with it and then I didn’t want to continue with the book any longer. It went on and on for hundreds of pages. I believe the author was trying to show the hypocrisy of Ireland’s sexually repressed society, causing all the people to constantly think and talk about sex. But it was done in almost a comic manner that I didn’t care for.
But I’m very glad that I continued reading because the second half of the book was gorgeously written and full of heart. Cyril’s struggle with the secrecy of his homosexuality is told in such a forthright manner. This is an epic novel that covers so much ground – the Catholic Church’s power over the people, society’s cruelty to homosexuals and their struggle to be accepted. Cyril can be incredibly selfish and then again he can be incredibly compassionate. He’s a conflicted man who the author completely brought to life. The loves and tragedies of his life make for a compelling read. The second half of this book more than compensated for the rocky first half.
This book was given to me by the publisher in return for an honest review.