The Heart's Invisible Furies by John Boyne. Hogarth Press, 2017. Hardcover. 582 pages.
I've been struggling to write this review because I don't quite know how to adequately convey how much I enjoyed it and how truly brilliant it is, but here is my best attempt.
The Heart's Invisible Furies is amazing, and I enjoyed this book more than I've enjoyed a book in a long time. I can't even remember the last time I truly loved and connected with a character as much as I did with our narrator, Cyril Avery. The Heart's Invisible Furies follows most of Cyril Avery's life, from youth to old age, and within that time period he undergoes a vast array of experiences, both positive and downright devastating. Cyril is a gay man born in conservative Ireland, and this backdrop sets up the basic backdrops for Cyril's life: the modern history of the LGBTQ movement, the IRA and terrorist events, and Ireland's own personal and social history.
Cyril's story is told in seven year increments, which actually seemed to work out really well for the pacing. This is a fairly hefty book, so I felt that this was a good breakdown to keep the story going and not end up lingering too long at any given time. This also worked well to capture an overall look at the biggest moments in his life. There isn't a lot of outright happy moments in Cyril's life, and it's his calm perspective and how he deals with many of these struggles that makes him quite so endearing. He's a rather logical man and is not overly prone to strong emotions, which it truly makes for a fascinating story.
The characters introduced throughout this book are so perfectly human that I had a hard time believing this book wasn't a true story. There is no strictly good or strictly bad person, but instead they are all incredibly messy and make plenty of mistakes. I loved how much this book let me delve into the mind of Cyril and also view the actions of others from his own point of view.
As mentioned, The Heart's Invisible Furies is really not a very uplifting book, as there really aren't that many positive things that happen. Fortunately, the narration and much of the dialogue is written in this wonderfully dry, witty voice that brings so much character and light to this book. I mean, this book had me literally laughing out loud at many points, even when it wasn't exactly a 'laughing' moment. I love this kind of humor, and it was such a flawless, effortless act on Boyne's part.
This might be a large book, but it flows so incredibly well. I breezed through this book without even realizing how much I was reading, which just goes to show how polished Boyne's prose is. I've only ever read one other book by Boyne, This House is Haunted, but this book makes me want to pick up everything he's ever written and hope that they are even half as good as this book. The Heart's Invisible Furies is beautifully written, powerful, and a must-read.
Overall, this is a five star book. Hands down. Maybe even more. This is easily one of the best books I've read this year, and I cannot recommend it enough to everyone!