04 August, 2017

The heart's invisible furies by John Boyne

From the author of A history of loneliness, comes an engaging, funny and warm odyssey, a novel about growing up gay in Ireland  - starting from the heavily religious and repressive Ireland of the 1940s when homosexual hate crimes were not unknown, to today with sexual politics having undergone a seismic change and gay marriage is legal. 

The question of who Cyril Avery (the protagonist) is, begins when a 16 year old unmarried girl is publicly shamed  by a priest  who pronounces that no man will ever marry her* due to her disgraceful out-of-wedlock pregnancy.

The child she has and adopts out, is of course Cyril, whose life we follow from his childhood, a sometimes lonely and distant environment, as his two rather inept adoptive parents try to raise him - all the while reminding him that he is not a true Avery. 
Even as he discovers  other “differences” about himself, he still manages to form close relationships through his youth and these are both tender and touching.

Along the way, Boyne covers a lot of historical ground including the IRA uprisings in the 60s, red-light sex work in Amsterdam in the early 80s, the first wave of HIV and Aids epidemic in New York, and the attacks on the World Trade Center in 2001. The characters are colourful and amusing and hearing the Irish vernacular in Boyne’s witty writing is certainly charming!

*As a fitting finish, the story ends with the same woman, (Cyril’s birth mother), now 80 something, getting hitched at the altar, in a Catholic church, in an institution that eventually brought itself down through its hypocrisy and own share of scandals. 

A wonderful read, that will capture your heart. 

Title: The heart's invisible furies
Author: John Boyne

Reviewed by Suneeta N, Highland Park Library

Suneeta N particularly enjoys biographies, travel stories and reading authors from around the world. She loves a good discussion and believes that everybody has a story worth telling.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Kia ora! Please feel free to leave your comments or suggestions below.