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Brilliant,
Beautiful,
Insightful

7 reviews

The Heart's Invisible Furies: A Novel
by John Boyne

Published: 2017-08-22
Hardcover : 592 pages
12 members reading this now
53 clubs reading this now
4 members have read this book
Recommended to book clubs by 6 of 7 members
Named Book of the MonthClub's Book of the Year, 2017
Selected one of New York Times Readers’ Favorite Books of 2017

From the beloved New York Times bestselling author of The Boy In the Striped Pajamas, a sweeping, heartfelt saga about the course of one man's life, beginning and ending in ...
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Introduction

Named Book of the MonthClub's Book of the Year, 2017
Selected one of New York Times Readers’ Favorite Books of 2017

From the beloved New York Times bestselling author of The Boy In the Striped Pajamas, a sweeping, heartfelt saga about the course of one man's life, beginning and ending in post-war Ireland

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 many years, will struggle to discover an identity, a home, a country, and much more.

In this, Boyne's most transcendent work to date, we are shown the story of Ireland from the 1940s to today through the eyes of one ordinary man. The Heart's Invisible Furies is a novel to make you laugh and cry while reminding us all of the redemptive power of the human spirit.

Editorial Review

An Amazon Best Book of August 2017: Sweeping, magnetic—John Boyne’s The Heart’s Invisible Furies is a novel so grounded in a single character, but it dexterously expands into a fully realized portrait of humanity in all of its messy glory. The author of the bestselling (not to mention heartbreaking) novel, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, has crafted a story that has all the feels – it’s genuinely funny, romantically tragic, with moments of sickening violence and then just as quickly redemptive resilience. Set in Post-War Ireland, when intolerance cloaked in Catholicism is at its height, we follow the lifespan of the adopted boy Cyril Avery. On the first page, Cyril introduces us to his birth mother and the circumstances in which he was born, and for the rest of the book, the reader is in Boyne’s capable hands: waiting, wondering, clamoring to know when he will meet his birth mother and how it will be uncovered that they are related. Told in seven year increments, taking the reader from Dublin to Amsterdam to New York and back, we bear witness to Cyril’s life alongside the cultural and societal evolution of Ireland. Weaving in and out of chance encounters with his birth mother, love affairs, decades-long friendships and bitter wounds from the past, Boyne has paced this novel perfectly, providing the reader one of the greatest gifts that fiction can deliver: hope. --Al Woodworth

Excerpt

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Discussion Questions

1. It's 1945. Father James Monroe. Care to comment?

2. Point to some of the book's humor — what do you find funny? Is Cyril's voice, or some of his observations, from the womb funny, for instance?

3. Describe the Church's position in the young republic of Ireland and talk about how its power changes by 2015.

4. Cyril knows he is gay; how does he deal with this knowledge, especially in the middle years of the 20th century?

5. What do you make of Cyril's adoptive family, especially his father Charles who insists that Cyril is "not really an Avery" and that he should consider his growing up years with the family as a "tenancy." What does he mean by that, and how do those words affect Cyril?l

6. Why does Maude Avery disdain popularity as a writer? Why does she bother to write and sell books?

7. How would you delineate Cyril's interior monologues from his outward behavior. How do those two modes differ?

8. John Boyne's book is very much about self-transformation. "Even at that tender age I knew that there was something about me that was different and that it would be impossible ever to put right." Is change possible after a certain age, after the brain becomes less malleable?

9. Boyne peppers his writing with coincidence. Why might he do so: what is he suggesting by its frequent use?

10. Talk about post-war Ireland in the 1950s. In what way might you describe it as nightmarish?

11. Consider the book's title. What are the furies, and why invisible? Boyne reserves much of his ire not only for the clergy, but also politicians. What makes him angry?

12. Which section of The Heart's Invisible Furies engage you more than the others … and why?

With thanks to litlovers

Notes From the Author to the Bookclub

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