The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne has been getting rave reviews everywhere I’ve seen it posted, so I was stoked to finally get my hands on a copy. (Thank you, library.)
The whole time I was reading this book (all 850 pages of it), I was thinking, “Wow, I can’t wait to review this!”
It opens with a bang:
Long before we discovered that he had fathered two children by two different women, one in Drimoleague and one in Clonakilty, Father James Monroe stood on the altar of the Church of Our Lady, Star of the Sea, in the parish of Goleen, West Cork, and denounced my mother as a whore.
An Overview from Goodreads:
Cyril Avery is not a real Avery or at least that’s what his adoptive parents tell him. And he never will be. But if he isn’t a real Avery, then who is he?
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.
What I Loved:
There are so many things I loved about this book, but the *humor* is probably the number one thing I loved. All the dialogue scenes were quirky and hilarious (and reminded me a bit of Charles Dickens’ works.)
I also loved it spanned the protagonist, Cryril Avery’s entire life, looked at intense topics, and carried strong writing throughout the entire book.
What I Didn’t Love:
What I didn’t like as much (and I cringe saying this because I expect nothing less than outrage from the masses who adore this book) was the implausibility of paths crossing. I won’t name names or scenes in case you haven’t read this and want to, but there is instance after instance of Cyril running across someone significant in his life at the opportune moment. While I believe life is strange (certainly stranger than fiction) and these things do happen, it seemed like too many times.
The other thing that I struggled with was the ending (spoiler alert coming so skip the rest of this paragraph if you don’t want to know). I hated that he only realized he was happy at the end of his life. This is probably just me and one of my weirdly strong convictions, but I truly want to enjoy my life throughout. I know it’s often hard and terrible things happen, but I want to find joy along the way, not just at the end.
There, rant over.
It is also a crass so if that’s not your thing, then you may want to keep on moving.
That aside, I did enjoy the book and think it may have lived up to its hype.
Here are a few quotes to pique your interest:
“Do you enjoy being a writer, Mrs Avery?” asked Julian.
“No, of course not, she said. “It’s a hideous profession. Entered into by narcissists who think their pathetic little imaginations will be of interest to people they’ve never met.”
I may not have known much about pregnancies but I knew that you couldn’t have a son or a daughter without actually doing it first. The priests at school had once muttered something to the effect that when a mummy and a daddy loved each other very much, they lay close together and the Holy Spirit descended upon them to create the miracle of new life. (Charles, in his one attempt at a man-to-man talk with me, had put it rather differently. ‘Get her kit off,’ he said. ‘Play with her tits a bit, because the ladies love that. Then just stick your cock in her pussy and ram it in and out a bit. Don’t hang around too long in there – it’s not a bloody train station. Just do your business and get on with your day.’ It’s no wonder he managed to secure so many wives, the old romantic.
You look like a Greek God sent down by the immortal Zeus from Mount Olympus to taunt the rest of us inferior beings with your astonishing beauty, I said, which somehow in translation came out as “you look fine, why?”
Alright, well, there you go. I consider this book officially reviewed! Let me know in the comments if you’re going to read it or plan to read it.