The Heart's Invisible Furies
by John Boyne
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?

(Discussion Questions by LitLovers )


Book Club Talking Points:
Cyril was a gay man living in a time when he was forced to hide his true identity or face jail or even death. His teenage mother gave birth to him out of wedlock, which was reason enough for her family to publicly shame her and her church and community to run her out of town, penniless. A quirky couple adopted Cyril. They provided financially for him but continuously told him he was not a “real” Avery. Thus his childhood lacked the love and nurturing most children receive. The book is epic, following the lives of Cyril and his mother, and tackles many controversial topics and examines some critical issues from 1949 to present.
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