Cover Image: The Heart's Invisible Furies

The Heart's Invisible Furies

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

The story of Cyril Avery would be quite difficult for me to adequately describe.  Yet, the author has done a brilliant job.  The writing is humorous and poignant at the same time.  You might be laughing out loud one minute and crying the next.  A fascinating read!
Was this review helpful?
With so many books on my tbr shelf and this book being almost 600 pages, I kept putting this book off. I wish I hadn't. I absolutely loved this book! If I could give this book more than 5 stars, I would. The opening chapters had me drawn in immediately and I found it almost impossible to put down. As Cyril got older, I dreaded the end of the story. This book is extremely well written. It's an extraordinary and powerful story that spans a lifetime. I loved all the characters even the quirky ones. 
I highly recommend this book to all. I look forward to reading more from this author. 

Thank you to NetGalley, Crown Publishing and John Boyne for a copy of "The Heart's Invisible Furies" in exchange of an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
This is absolutely one of my favorite books of all time! From a small Irish town to the streets of New York City, the twists and turns of one’s life can take are unlimited. Read it immediately- you’ll LOVE the ride.
Was this review helpful?
Another great John Boyne read! Excellent setting, character development, and emotional weight. I was so in love with this book!
Was this review helpful?
​I received a complimentary ARC of this book from Netgalley but all opinions provided are my own.
 
I’ve heard a lot of buzz about John Boyne’s The Heart’s Invisible Furies and at the end of last week, I took a break from the romances I’ve been devouring and dove in. The story—which spans 70 years—is plainly but powerfully told, each section focusing on Cyril Avery’s life as he moves geographically from Ireland to Amsterdam to the United States and back home again, and more importantly, from a life of devastating secrets to a life where he lives as he is: a gay Irish man who’s made some big mistakes and been in love and tries to be better all the time.
 
Each section of the book focuses on Cyril’s life 7 years later from the previous section. We get his tumultuous birth in 1945, told from information he received later from his mother, his odd and sad childhood years as the adopted child of an unconventional—to say the least—couple, and the first moments he met Julian Woodbead, the child who becomes Cyril’s best friend and then the man Cyril loves throughout his adolescence and most of his 20s.
 
Since this book goes up to 2015 we get much, much more of course, from Cyril’s furtive sexual encounters in Ireland in the dark, to the lengths he’s willing to go to in order to hide his sexuality, and how it ends up hurting the people he cares about most. Also his years of embracing who he is and how those are sometimes threatened too.
 
And throughout it all is Ireland, a country that’s tragic and that’s home, that Cyril misses even as he acknowledges how damaging it was for him to grow up there when he did. Ireland holds the weight of his and other’s secrets, but it also holds Cyril’s potential chance to make amends and to live a life where he’s truly not hiding anymore.
 
Dedicated to John Irving, The Heart’s Invisible Furies feels comparable to Irving’s books I’ve read, from the style in which the story’s relayed to the moments of humor, which break up the quiet and not-so-quiet moments of sadness. Maybe it’s most similar in how it portrays the characters themselves, who are magnetic and entertaining and frustrating and disheartening (sometimes vaguely repulsive) and loveable. Take Cyril himself, who sometimes comes across as the “selfish” person he’s been accused of being, but who also has a huge heart that’s been bruised and crushed and denied, and whose actions are sometimes horrible but also, to some degree, maybe understandable, given his lifetime of hiding/lying/being ignored.
 
In the end, this book is about Cyril’s life, and it felt true to what I’ve discovered about life: there’s capacity for great ugliness, cruelty, and violence, but there’s also capacity for great forgiveness, hope, and love. There’s also the chance to apologize and work to be better, and that’s one of the most encouraging things of all.
 
4.5 ⭐️
Was this review helpful?
One of the most beautiful books I have ever read. Boyne is a masterful writer, and Cyril is a character you can fall in love and root for despite his mistakes and flaws. The opening grips you right away, and the narrative never lets go. It's a book that makes you laugh and cry in equal measure, and the type of epic novel that is all too rare these days.
Was this review helpful?
There are three main characters in this wonderful book. The first is Cyril, our guide through what can only be described as a fictional memoir. It reads like truth and Cyril is so likeable, so realistic, and so deep a character that you have to remind yourself that it is, in fact, fiction. We meet Cyril as a fetus and journey with him until he is an old man in his 70s, all in 7 year chunks of time. 

The second main character is gay rights, primarily those of Ireland but with other nations prominently featured. Cyril was born gay in a stretch of time and in a nation where that was not the best luck on his part. In a truly Forrest Gumpian list of experiences, Cyril regales is with the history he has experienced from the end of WWII until 2015. But although Cyril is your guide, a lot of the history happens around him, as if you could have experienced it as a bystander to the event but had the great fortune of meeting Cyril along the way. The gay rights movement and people involved in it stand for themselves as characters in their own right.

The third character, and possibly the most insidious villain I've seen in recent times, is hypocrisy. From the beginning, you not only see hypocrisy in almost every interaction Cyril has with straight people (and even some homosexuals), but you see hypocrisy from literally the first sentence. If anything, it is almost a laughably tweedly-mustached villain in that it is ever-present, highlighted predominantly, and rears its ugly head repeatedly, even after it's been defeated. 

I'm trying not to give any actual details of Cyril's life away, because this novel fits together like well-crafted puzzle pieces and you need to experience it to fully appreciate it. Cyril's dry wit, his joy and pain, and his worldview will be your constant companions through the journey and you'll close the book wishing you had just a bit more time with him.
Was this review helpful?
This book is a guest favorite on episode 168 of What Should I Read Next, for its interesting structure and epic storytelling approach.
Was this review helpful?
This book had me at the dedication to John Irving. An excellent witty, poignant look at relationships told from the perspective of a gay man growing up in Ireland. Born in Dublin to an unwed mother, we follow Cyril throughout his life and lessons. Bigotry, love, life and death are chronicled quite masterfully. The eighties and the Aids epidemic demonstrated in such a thoughtful way. The whole book is incredible.

Copy provided by the Publisher and NetGalley
Was this review helpful?
This book had me invested from the start and I wanted to know how life for Cyril Avery would turn out.  The story follows Cyril from pre-birth to death, sharing his family, friends, loves and quirkiness.  I will miss Cyril for a long time after the book is done - the sign of.a great book,
Was this review helpful?
Wow, amazing read. I felt connected with the main character during the first 100 pages and couldn't put it down. The relationship between Cyril and his father was unimaginable and at times made me literally cringe. That's only the beginning! Beautifully written. Excellent, excellent read.
Was this review helpful?
If you're looking for a novel that takes place over several decades and will break your heart on about every other page, then this is 100% the book for you.
Was this review helpful?
This was a book that I didn't want to end.  I haven't felt that about a book for a long, long time.  
Boyne is a storyteller.  This story is tragic, funny, unexpected, shocking, and just lovely. I was unsure about the ending, but decided it worked and was appropriate.
The history of the Catholic Church in Ireland features large this story, and becomes an unforgivable background story.  
This is a wonderful story, a piece of recent history brought to life, and an exceptional novel.
Highly recommended.
Was this review helpful?
This book is a good read! It was a little slow at times, but overall enjoyed.
Was this review helpful?
Wow, it took me too long to finally get to this book! I actually received an ARC in exchange for an honest review, and I'm so glad to even have an opportunity to read probably the best written book by my favorite author! I loved how the story was all vignettes from just the life of one man named Cyril who realizes he's gay in the 1950s when Ireland was a pretty terrible time to be a gay man. Throughout his life, Cyril has his moments of really great moments like standing up to a religious bigot of a fiancee while also being a pretty deeply flawed man who seems to take everything too personally and it's not a great person for a good half of the book. I laughed at some of the exchanges and cringed for him, and after the book ended (and Cyril DEFINITELY earned his happy ending) felt like I was saying goodbye to a group of friends I've come to know after so long. This book is full of characters, and all of them are really fleshed out and actually HUMAN; you could see where each person was coming from, even if the choices they made were just flat out stupid at times, and all were very unique and three dimensional.v Although it's not my favorite Boyne book (that honor goes to The Boy at the Top of the Mountain), it's definitely his most complex and best written one. To put it in simple terms: I loved the characters and the story, and am looking forward to see what else John Boyne writes! If it's anything like this, it'll be amazing!
Was this review helpful?
I have a large following so I do not post reviews that are only one star.  It doesn't seem fair to the author.
Was this review helpful?
I finished reading The Heart's Invisible Furies exactly one week ago as I type this, and I still cannot adequately put into words just how amazing this book is. I can only marvel at Mr. Boyne's ability to create a story so profound and hopeful in spite of the main story being heartbreaking. No matter how cliched it might be to say so, Cyril's story made me laugh and cry, sometimes at the same time, made me fearful, angry, jealous, happy, and reflective. It is unlike any story I have previously read in the visceral responses it caused within me. It is also one of the only novels that had me so spellbound that upon finishing it, I could only sit there with bowed head for at least five minutes as my heart caught up to my brain and I processed the wonder of the novel. I also could not start reading another book for the rest of the night. Yes, folks. It is THAT good.

Perhaps this is my own perception, but novels about Ireland tend to wax poetic about the country. Any novel set in the Emerald Isle typically portrays the country in somewhat rose-tinted pictures, not hiding the poverty or politics but not necessarily drawing attention to them either. Mr. Boyne does none of this. He shows post-World War II Ireland in all its bigoted glory. At the same time though, Mr. Boyne acknowledges why Irish citizens are perfectly willing to forgive and forget the harsh punishments and narrow laws that once dictated the land. He helps non-Irish readers understand the loyalty and sense of home that in general the Irish feel towards their country no matter where they live. Theirs is a country completely unique to any other, and only a fellow Irishman or woman can truly understand what it means to have lived there through the repression and eventual enlightenment of the country.

Of particular importance to Cyril's story, and something I feel most people do not realize about Ireland, is just how powerful the Church was at one point in time. The power of the priests was absolute; the Church even went so far as to dictate the laws of the land to government officials. It is a society which is all but unfathomable to Americans with its separation of Church and State and tolerance of (almost) all forms of religion. Yet, it is vital to understanding just how fearsome the Church was back in the day to understand the decisions Cyril's mother, and later Cyril, make.

While much of what molds Cyril as a young man is a direct result of Irish policy and bias, Mr. Boyne is careful to remind readers that his experiences as an adult are not totally unique to Ireland. Cyril's lives in Amsterdam and in New York prove that much of the bias he experienced in his twenties while in Dublin would have happened (and did happen) elsewhere. Yes, some of what made Cyril so vulnerable is directly due to his upbringing, which is due to the harsh treatment his mother faced in her village - uniquely Irish. But the options Cyril has as a young twenty-something were not unique to Ireland. So, his story becomes an everyman story where Cyril's fear, desperation, and longing becomes others' fear, desperation, and longing. It is a key distinction that allows the story to transcend borders and generations.

From the opening sentence of The Heart's Invisible Furies, you know you are in for a most unusual novel. Filled with tragedy and pathos as well as biting humor and social commentary, it sets the tone for the remaining 591 pages and does so brilliantly. Cyril touches your heart like no other character with his honesty and longing, while his desperation and isolation make you understand how people can give up on life. Yet, for all that, the story gives you hope. For if a country as backwards as Ireland - one of the most conservative countries in the world at one point in time - can change, then so can everyone and everything else. It will not be easy and it will not be rapid, but it will happen. And that is the best message of all.
Was this review helpful?
This novel pulled at my heart from beginning to end! I love the title, The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne was so good. I especially loved the beginning, a poor Irish girl gets pregnant out of wedlock and is thrown out of her town. She gives her baby up for adoption and unknowingly crosses paths with him over and over again throughout the course of their lives. The book is not so much about her as it is about Cyril, the child she gave up.

Cyril is adopted by a strange couple who constantly remind him that he’s adopted so he never feels like part of the family. Cyril is befriended by a handsome, reckless boy named Julian and eventually, Cyril finds himself falling in love with Julian. Hiding his feelings, Cyril experiences many problems while accepting his sexuality and identity. The book is more emotional and deeper than what I can express here but I found myself thinking about the characters after I finished the story.

The book begins in 1945 and ends in the present day, you will experience a gamut of emotions throughout every chapter. Another must-read for 2017!
Was this review helpful?
I'm not emotional but this book made me laugh (out loud) and cry (well sniffle quietly).  I adored the dialogue - it's never been done better - nor have stereotypes and prejudices been more artfully confronted.  ADORE this book and recommending to dedicated bookclubs and smart friends everywhere!
Was this review helpful?
This is a long book, 582 pages.  Most of it takes place in Ireland, from 1945 to 2015.   It is a work of fiction, following the life of Cyril Avery, born out of wedlock.  His mother is disowned by her family and shamed by the local priest in front of the entire congregation in a small town.  Cyril's  mother gives him up for adoption.  He realizes that he is gay.  The change in attitude towards gay people is explored through Cyril, who is the narrator.  I recommend this book to those who want to read about a positive change in Ireland.
Thanks to NetGalley for sending me this book.
Was this review helpful?