‘The Heart’s Invisible Furies’
Lately, I’ve been on a role of dark dramas so I just knew it was time for me to pick this book I’ve had for a couple of years on my shelf. I initially bought it because of the hype but for some reason I never got around to actually reading it. I don’t know why I didn’t read it before, it is beautiful.
The books opens with Catherine Goggin, a pregnant 16-year-old girl who gets kicked out of the church and the village she lives in by the priest, as the town watch and shame her for being a “fallen woman”. With this first chapter, Boyne starts a narrative on Irish’s strict and conservative mindset influences mainly by the Catholic church.
Catherine travels to Dublin and meets Sean and Jack, a gay couple that takes her in until she gives birth the day Sean is beaten to death by his own father. Cyril, her son, is the book’s narrator and protagonist of the book. Boyne introduces Cyril as a 7-year-old-boy neglected by his adoptive parents, an adjective his parents remind him of every chance they get, after all, he’s not a “real Avery”.
Each section of the novel leaps forward seven years showing Cyril’s development and struggles throughout his life, a philosophy that Rudolf Steiner hypothesized, suggesting there are significant changes in human development that are linked to the astrological chart. Every cell in the human body is replaced every seven years meaning biologically speaking we are completely different human beings.
Cyril has quite a life: Getting an intense crush on a boy who then becomes his best friend; fleeing his wedding; and losing the loves of his life. He spends decades trying to find his place in the world where he doesn’t have the need to hide who he is anymore and make peace with his past. Boyne has a way of portraying a dark narrative in a way that doesn’t overwhelm while making his characters real and humane. There are no villains and heroes, just humans trying to figure out their own lives and making mistakes along the way: Cyril and the other characters tend to hurt each other deeply, but never intentionally, and ultimately they try to make things right. Decisions don’t make people, is how we learn from them, and try to solve them that makes us who we are and Cyril is a great example of that. It’s never too late to try to make things right.
The main characters tend to meet each other several times throughout the decades without realizing their connection to each other, which was one of my favorite things in the book.