“By turns savvy, witty and achingly sad, Boyne’s latest novel is an epic romp through recent Irish history. This is a novelist at the top of his game.”

NO MAJOR SPOILERS

This is the story of Cyril Avery but it begins in a small town in Ireland in 1945 when Catherine Coggins, a 16 year old unmarried girl is found to be pregnant. She is admonished in front of her congregation by her local priest, her family has disowned her, and she won’t reveal the name of the father because it is the husband of her aunt. She must leave her home and town and she decides to start a new life in Dublin. Here she will give birth to Cyril, who, immediately upon his entering the world is whisked away by a nun and given to the Avery’s who are childless.

Charles Avery is a rich banker, a philanderer, and a man who doesn’t like to pay his taxes. Maude Avery is a novelist, though not very successful, but with a small, limited following which is just the way she likes it. The problem is the Avery’s really show little love or attention to Cyril who is constantly reminded he is an adopted son and not a real Avery.

Cyril is also gay, and being gay in Ireland at this time is not a good thing. Cyril will develop a strong relationship with Mr. Avery’s solicitors son. Cyril will love him from afar, as Jeremy is straight as can be, so Cyril can never tell him.

There will be much violence and tragedy, plus mistakes that cannot be corrected that will force Cyril to leave Ireland. He will travel to Amsterdam where he will meet the love of his life, move to NYC where he will be in the middle of the aids epidemic, and then after more tragedy and heartbreak will return to Ireland. There are uplifting parts to this book and much humor which make the darker parts of the book easier to handle. Very well written, it is a very interesting story, giving a real insight into the plight of homosexuals through so many years. Recommended.

 

Reviewed by:

Richard Franco

Added 28th November 2017

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Richard Franco