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Book Review

Book Review: 'The Heart's Invisible Furies'


The number seven can provide structure: the days of a week, the colors of the rainbow, a musical scale.  There are the seven chakras of Hinduism, and seven requests in the Lord’s Prayer. For ancient Egyptians it symbolizes eternal life, a complete cycle, a dynamic perfection. And of course, seven is a lucky number.

Lucky for us, John Boyne, in seven-year cycles, achieves dynamic perfection in his brilliantly immersive novel The Heart’s Invisible Furies. Cyril Avery is born in 1945, in Dublin, after his mother has been dragged from her village church, instructed never to return. When we pick Cyril up seven years later, he has been adopted by Maude, a cynical novelist, and Charles, an elusive charmer and sometimes-jailbird because of his shady business dealings. Cyril adapts to a lonely life in boarding school. Seven years later, now 14, he is living with secret longings because of his sexuality. Life passes as it does, and Boyne checks in on Cyril every seven years, at 21, 28, 35 and so on.

In 1987, living his best life in New York City with his doctor partner, tragedy strikes. He moves back to Dublin and one wonders how he can get up in the morning. But get up he does for many more years.    

Because of the epic scope of this novel, the eccentricity of the wide cast of characters, the humor and heartbreak, the 550 pages read effortlessly, like blood flowing through your veins. Boyne dedicates this novel--his 15th book--to John Irving.  And John Irving should be very, very proud.