Cyril Avery is a gay man born in the 1940’s in conservative Ireland. Snapshots of his life show us not only how Cyril grows and develops, but how his country changes as well. He deals with adversity and identity issues while showing us how the human spirit can persevere in times of trouble.
With this book, Boyne uniquely blends issues of identity and dignity, compassion, love, and a history of Ireland in one spellbinding book. I won’t lie- I was intimidated by the book’s length (it clocks in at about 600 pages), but I’m so happy that I decided to read it anyway. Boyne has created characters that are all extremely relatable. You won’t always agree with their choices, but you will always root for their happiness. It’s been a while since I’ve felt such a connection with the characters in a story, and I can truly say I didn’t want this one to end.
We begin this story with the conception of the main character, Cyril Avery, and follow his story into his 90’s. Cyril is a lovable, if sometimes frustrating, gay man living in conservative Ireland. The book is divided into sections beginning every seven years, so we see snapshots of his entire life. This is a clever of way of also showing us Irish history. The political and social backdrop of each section changes as Cyril grows older, and it’s a unique way to show us how Ireland has changed as a country.
Cyril faces adversity at nearly every turn in this novel. He faces homophobia and judgment from those who know his true self, and lives in fear of others finding out his secret. This story deals with his identity, and how it affects nearly every aspect of his life. Although the book has lighter moments, it is also devastating at times. Despite that, it also has an “un-put-downable” quality. The dialogue between characters is highly entertaining, and the story is very compelling. If you’re looking for a novel that you’ll relate to emotionally while also learning something new, The Heart’s Invisible Furies would be a perfect choice.