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'A bold, funny epic' Observer
'Compelling and satisfying . . . At times, incredibly funny, at others, heartrending' Sarah Winman, author of When God Was a Rabbit
Cyril Avery is not a real Avery. At least, that's what his parents make sure to remind him. Adopted as a baby, he feels more and more disconnected with the family that treats him more as a curious pet, rather than a beloved son.
So, as a young adult, Cyril decides to embark on a quest to find his place in the world. Sometimes misguided and often in the wrong place at the wrong time, life has dealt him a difficult hand but Cyril is resolute that he can change things, and find the courage to be himself.
And in doing so, his story will come across that of Catherine Goggin, a young, pregnant woman finding herself alone and isolated at only sixteen. There is a place in the world for both of them, and Cyril is determined to find it.
What readers are saying:
***** 'The story of the life of one man, told against the backdrop of twentieth century Ireland. It is simultaneously heart-breaking, funny and life-affirming.
***** 'Fantastic eccentric characters and dark humour is underpinned by a touching love story, perfect.'
***** 'The saddest and happiest book I have read . . . told with great compassion and ultimately a great love of life.'
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Best known as the author of The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, John Boyne scores another emotional triumph with this ambitious novel. Told in intervals of seven years, the book follows Irish narrator Cyril Avery from the mid-'40s to today, as attitudes towards homosexuality change painfully slowly in his home country. Sparkling spritzes of humour help balance the more harrowing turns, while Boyne has roguish fun handling the hot potato of era-specific controversies. It’s a far-reaching book about learning to feel comfortable in your own skin while you wait for the world to catch up.
Boyne (The Boy in the Striped Pajamas) begins his enchanting, sprawling latest novel in 1945 as 16-year-old Catherine Goggin is cast from her home in Goleen, Ireland. Unmarried, pregnant, and shamed by a priest in front of the entire congregation, she makes her way to Dublin, where, after finding a job at the Parliament of the Irish Republic, she rents a dingy apartment. At her tenement, Catherine witnesses an act of violence against her flatmates, the stress of which forces her into labor in the hall of her building. Thus begins the life of Cyril Avery, the boy whose life fills the remaining pages. Splitting the novel into decade-long sections, Boyne explores Cyril's life in luscious detail. Cyril is raised by quirky and inattentive adoptive parents a banker and a successful writer in Dublin. After school he visits Amsterdam, then later navigates 1980s New York at the height of the AIDS epidemic. With evocative descriptions of each city and fateful plot turns that twist the narrative in surprising ways, Boyne adroitly captures Cyril's shifting identity as he grapples with nationality, class, and sexuality. The book becomes both an examination of Cyril's life and a catalogue of Western society's evolution from post-war to present day, with all its failings, triumphs, complexities, and certainties. The story falters slightly near the end, but the life of Cyril Avery is one to be relished.