The Heart’s Invisible Furies begins in rural Ireland with a dramatic scene: a teenage girl is cast out of her village, shamed and ridiculed by her family and local priest for becoming pregnant out of wedlock. With nothing to her name and no home, she boards a bus to Dublin and doesn’t look back.
Her son Cyril is adopted by an emotionally distant but wealthy couple and seeks affection in his close friendship with a boy named Julian. Yet as he grows up and comes to understand his identity as a gay man, he faces pervasive discrimination and the pressure to conform. From strange kidnappings to unadvised marriages and tragic losses, Cyril’s life unwinds for readers in fascinating but heartbreaking bursts. Written with compassion and humor, The Heart’s Invisible Furies comes in at almost 600 pages yet somehow still feels too short.
“Maude and I traveled to the Four Courts together on the final day to hear the verdict and, as I had not been allowed to attend during the trial itself, I was fascinated and a little frightened by the majesty of the Round Hall, where the families of victims and criminals alike mixed in a curious mélange of quarry and miscreant while barristers marched to and fro in black gowns and white wigs, laden down with folders and trailed by anxious-looking juniors. My adoptive mother was seething with rage, for the case had received so much publicity over recent weeks that her latest novel, Amongst Angels, had found its way to the front table of the Hodges Figgis Bookshop in Dawson Street, a location that none of her previous work had ever come close to troubling in the past. Alerted to the fact that morning over breakfast by our housekeeper, Brenda, who had been shopping in town the afternoon before, she extinguished her cigarette in the center of an egg yolk and started to tremble in fury, her face pale with humiliation. “The vulgarity of it all,” she said. “Popularity. Readers. I can’t bear it. I knew Charles would destroy my career in the end.”
John Boyne is the author of books for both children and adults, including The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, The Heart’s Invisible Furies, A History of Loneliness, and Stay Where You Are and Then Leave. Born in Dublin, Boyne also writes regular book reviews for The Irish Times.
Length: 582 pages
Main Settings: Dublin, Ireland; Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Secondary Setting: New York City, New York, United States
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