Top Books I Read in 2017. Nos 4 & 3.

Number 4. John Boyne – The Heart’s Invisible Furies.

JB

I only knew about John Boyne through The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas and I was totally surprised to find out that he wrote for adults as well. I have heard some things about the Heart’s Invisible Furies and, at times, I wanted to buy a copy. However my girlfriend bought a copy for my birthday so I pushed everything aside and read it.

This book is EPIC. It spans over 70 years of world history through the eyes of a gay man. Most of the book takes place in post war Ireland, where tolerance to homosexuality was low and the main focus of this book is Cyril’s constant battle between finding himself and trying to ‘conform’. Boyne stuffs the novel with red herrings, tender moments and uplifting ones. A panoramic novel if there ever was one. Review here.

Number 3. Emma Donoghue – Room.

Room

I love it when a book absorbs me completely and Room did that to me. To put it simple Room is about a boy who grows up in a solitary room. The book is told from his own point of view, including the language he makes up. Suddenly an event happens that changes his outlook of his confined world.

Room is one of those books that can be interpreted in different ways but no matter how you look at it it’s poignancy sticks out. A special reading experience. Goodreads review here.

 

John Boyne – The Heart’s Invisible Furies

JB

For my birthday, my girlfriend bought three books. One was A Man Called Ove , The other was Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine and this was the third one.

The focuses on the life of Cyril Avery. From his birth in 1945 to 2016. As one can guess with a novel like this, we see historical events, chapters set in different countries, a huge cast of characters and coincidences that mingle like some huge plate of spaghetti. What makes this novel different is that Cyril is gay and is Irish so the reader sees how Irish society has changed regarding the attitudes to homosexuals.

This is a huge book and stuffed with details but the important themes that stick out is the aforementioned one about attitudes and the importance of family. Throughout his seven decades on Earth Cyril hunts longs for a family and tries his best to form one but it eventually happens through the friendships he has made through the years. This is not a spoiler as it is a common trope with this type of book.

As a novel it is wonderful. I tend to gravitate towards the bildungsroman and this was perfect. Boyne’s writing is simple and yet it flows and makes for great reading. Despite the tragic moments in the novel, Boyne manages to scatter some crumbs of humour. As a small warning, this is a novel that demands time due to the way it unfolds but it is totally worth it.  I liked John Boyne’s The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas but now I know his adult fiction is on par, if not better.