John Boyne embodies the heartbreaking history of Ireland and the Catholic Church in the post war years from 1945 to 2015 through the ordinary life and times of Cyril Avery. It is ambitious, moving, unforgettable and epic in scope, incorporating real life characters and events, and documents the ground breaking shifts in Irish attitudes and culture.
Cyril Avery is a victim of circumstances born to an unwed sixteen year old mother in an intolerant, unforgiving priest ruled Ireland of 1945. Given up for adoption and raised by remote, unconventional parents, he lacked little other than love and lived his early years infatuated with the similarly aged, handsome and charismatic Julian. Forced by the attitudes of the time to deny or hide his true inclinations Cyril gets himself into a number of awkward, even dangerous situations. And so we follow Cyril as he relates his exploit in stages of seven years from his birth up to 2015.
Despite its length the story moves quickly. This is partly due to the seven year jumps in his account but primarily down to the quality of the writing. My favourite read of 2017