The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne
Hardcover, 582 pages
Published August 22nd 2017 by Hogarth Press
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 glamourous 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.
I thought this book, which followed the life of Irish-born Cyril from before his birth into his 70s, was absolutely incredible. Full of larger-than-life characters, this book illustrates an important time in recent history and highlights the intolerance towards gay men, and young unmarried mothers, and what has changed – and not changed – over the years.
This is at times a hard book to read but the characters are so well portrayed and the book is injected with humour throughout. Despite the length of this novel, it is really readable and I got through it in a matter of days.
My only minor negative: I found the cameos of various famous people really off-putting and weird, and don’t think the name-dropping added anything to the story. There are also quite a few coincidences in the novel but I didn’t mind this- and in fact I liked that his mum was always unknowingly there for him.
A fantastic read and I have no idea why I didn’t read it years ago! Recommended to anyone who enjoys character-led novels.
My rating: 9 out of 10