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The Heart's Invisible Furies by John Boyne

John Boyne needs no introduction. Author of the New York Times bestselling novel The Boy In The Striped Pajamas, that won two Irish Book Awards, and also a Miramax movie, Boyne is now back with his new book The Heart's Invisible Furies. 

John Boyne is a great storyteller. I loved Stay Where You Are And Then Leave. Very few writers can create historical fiction characters as compelling or relatable in the modern era. The main character, Cyril, makes his entrance in Goleen – a small west Cork village, during a mass at a parish church. Mind you, Cyril isn’t quite present in the flesh for all to see yet. He’s actually in his mother’s womb. Sixteen-year-old Catherine Goggin (Cyril’s mom) recently found out she was pregnant, and Father James Monroe is about to banish her from the parish. The hypocrisy of it all is that Monroe himself has fathered two children 

Catherine Goggin is full of spunk and positivity. In a time, that one may want to crawl up into a cave and hide from the rest of the world, she sets off on an adventure to change the course of her destiny (and that of her unborn child).  Determined to see the pregnancy through, but mature enough to realize that she can’t give him the best life in her current state, she travels to Dublin, finds herself a job, and when Cyril is born, gives him up for adoption. 

The couple is well off, but Cyril does not receive the kind of love a child would receive from his/her parents. From an early age, Cyril’s father (correction: adopted father), makes it very clear to him that he isn’t to think of himself as a true Avery, and will never enjoy the full benefits of being Charles Avery’s son. Cyril’s mother (adopted mother) is an accomplished writer (although she shies away from gaining fame for her writing), and spends her days locked up in her study. Charles has his own interests, some of which include philandering, so he doesn’t really have time for his son either. Cyril is encouraged to call his adoptive parents by their names, one that causes him a lot of heartache at school. Why they would have wanted to adopt a child at all was a big mystery to Cyril, as they didn't seem to show any interest in his well-being, although, he aptly points out that they were neither ever unkind nor cruel. At dinner parties hosted by the Avery's, Cyril likened himself to a FabergĂ© egg they'd purchased from a descendant of the last Russian Tsar. 

It was amusing to read about Maude Avery’s views on writing. An accomplished writer, having written several books, she saw the idea of popularity as an excessively vulgar trait, quietly thankful earlier on that she didn’t sell any books. 

But The Heart's Invisible Furies isn’t about writing or Maude Avery. It’s about self identity in a time when the church told people how they should live, and whom they were allowed to love. Cyril is adrift in the world, with his own feelings of sexuality displaced. His closest friend is Julian, whom he's known since he was a child living in the Avery household. Friendship and love go hand in hand, and he goes through life not being able to express his feelings for Julian...perhaps because of the times when homosexuality was not as widely accepted in society, or perhaps due to the rejection he thought he would receive from a guy who seemed to be very promiscuous with women. 

Whether it was because they had both been denied love, or simply felt deprived from family affection, what ensued was an affection between the two boys...one filled not just with mutual interests, but also laden with secrets, which would eventually put their friendship to the test. 

The Heart's Invisible Furies is an ambitious epic tale, that touches your heart and burns your soul with the injustices. But, it is a testament to the power of the human spirit; you will laugh, just as much as you will be sure to shed a tear. John Boyne is witty and poignant, and is able to push the envelope just enough to win your heart and make you want to make the world a little better. 

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