Alcohol & Advil: The Heart’s Invisible Furies and The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

Alcohol and Advil Literary Style
Welcome to Alcohol & Advil, where I pair a book likely to cause a “reading hangover” (i.e. the alcohol) with a recovery book (i.e. the Advil)! For me, the “alcohol” is usually a book that I either absolutely loved or one that punched me in the gut in an emotionally depleting way…and, in this case, it’s the former.

In the case of today’s pairing, you won’t know how truly great a match it is until you’ve read both books. I’m not going to spoil anything by telling you anymore than that.

The Alcohol

Heart's Invisible Furies by John BoyneThe Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne
Historical Fiction (Released August 22, 2017)
582 Pages
Bottom Line: Read it.
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Source: Library (Publisher: Hogarth Books)

Plot Summary: After Cyril Avery was born out of wedlock to an Irish country teenager and given up for adoption to a wealthy, Dublin couple, he wrestles with his identity and how he fits into the country of Ireland over the course of his life.

My Thoughts: I’ve been looking for a big, immersive novel for a long time now and The Heart’s Invisible Furies is the first one that’s really hit me since A Little Life (my review). It was exactly what I’d been looking for and is hands-down one of my favorite books of 2017! It spans Cyril’s entire life in 7 year segments and, along with Cyril’s story, tells the story of Ireland growing from an intolerant country run by an overreaching Catholic Church in the 1940’s to the first country in the world to legalize same sex marriage by popular vote in 2015. It’s heartfelt and emotional, yet unexpectedly funny (Cyril’s adoptive parents are so ridiculously over-the-top that they’re hilarious). It’s highly literary, yet reads like juicy gossip at times. And, it’s filled with the kind of pointed social commentary that confirms John Boyne is an astute observer of life.

But here’s the thing, and I think everyone secretly believes this if they’d just let themselves admit it: the world would be a much healthier place if we allowed each other to do exactly what we wanted, when we wanted, with who we wanted, and didn’t lay down puritanical rules for how to conduct our sex lives.

The Heart’s Invisible Furies is a novel that has heart and will stick with you long after the final page. And, don’t be afraid of the length…this one is not a slog at all. I could have read it for hours at a time and, while it’s not a page turner, I was still on the edge of my seat dying to know what would happen to these people next. If you loved A Prayer for Owen Meany and/or A Little Life (minus all the heart-wrenching violence), grab this one immediately!

The Advil

Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins ReidThe Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugoby Taylor Jenkins Reid
Historical Fiction (Released June 13, 2017)
391 Pages
Bottom Line: Read it.
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Source: Purchased (Publisher: Atria Books)

Plot Summary: Legendary film actress Evelyn Hugo recruits young journalist, Monique, to write her life story, including the stories of her seven marriages.

My Thoughts: One of my favorite literary finds is a book that’s light and easy to read (I call them Brain Candy), but that’s also extremely well-done and has substantial depth. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo is the best in this class I’ve read in a long time! Evelyn is an Elizabeth Taylor-type character who did whatever it took to further her career…and she finally wants the whole truth to come out.

I’m not saying the gossip columnists printed what they knew to be a lie. I’m simply saying they were all too happy to believe the lie I was selling them. And of course, that’s the easiest lie to tell, one you know the other person desperately wants to be true.

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo goes behind the curtain about how the Hollywood machine really works and exposes how much of what the general public sees is orchestrated for appearances. There’s an Old Hollywood vibe, yet also an undercurrent of feminism. You may not like Evelyn (she’s completely unapologetic about all the ruthless moves she made during her career), but you kind of have to admire her guts, and I did feel sorry for her by the end. It’s not often that a Brain Candy book can make me cry, but this one did. It’s a book I’ll be recommending to tons of people and is going on my Best of the Brain Candy list.

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26 Comments

  1. Wendy wrote:

    Wasn’t Evelyn Hugo a surprise? I was reluctant to read it but it received so many raves that I dug in. I’m so glad I did!

    Posted 11.9.17 Reply
    • Sarah Dickinson wrote:

      Yes! And same here – just kind of considered her brainless fluff before I read it, but this was so well done and engaging. The amazing kind of fluff that isn’t actually brainless!

      Posted 11.14.17 Reply
  2. I’m considering The Heart’s Invisible Furies for my first book of 2018. Did you see amazon just included it on their list of 2017’s best? Evelyn Hugo sounds great, too… always good to keep a list of brain candy books. You never know when you’ll need one 😉

    Posted 11.9.17 Reply
    • Sarah Dickinson wrote:

      I think it would be an excellent first book of 2018 – it’s that kind of book…worthy of something like that!

      Posted 11.14.17 Reply
  3. Love the pairing, Sarah! I wish I’d had a good recovery book after The Heart’s Invisible Furies, but instead I went into a slump. It was such a wonderful book and I still think about it every day! I’m so glad you liked Evelyn, too.

    Posted 11.9.17 Reply
    • Sarah Dickinson wrote:

      Haha – that happened to me after A Little Life. That’s actually what taught me about book hangovers. I learned to very purposefully pick the recovery book!

      Posted 11.14.17 Reply
  4. Camela Kirshbom wrote:

    I loved Evelyn Hugo. I was lucky to to get the ARC copy and have hand sold this book several time. I plan to read The Heart’s Invisible Furies in January. Two of my friends have read it and can’t stop talking about it. I work at a chain book store and have to say the cover and title doesn’t make people want to pick it up. I’ve hand sold it only because of my friends nonstop praise for the book.

    Posted 11.9.17 Reply
    • Sarah Dickinson wrote:

      Agree about HIF. When it was first a BOTM pick back in August, I had zero interest. It took some word of mouth for me, but I’m so glad I did get to it. I feel like we’ll see it picking up momentum slowly as word spreads.

      Posted 11.14.17 Reply
  5. I set The Heart’s Invisible Fury aside when it came because it’s so long but it sounds like I need to pick it up!

    Posted 11.9.17 Reply
    • Sarah Dickinson wrote:

      It is long, but it really didn’t FEEL long, which is the most important thing to me. It reads quickly and is so engrossing I didn’t really notice the length. I wanted to read it every second of the day.

      Posted 11.14.17 Reply
  6. Madeline wrote:

    I loved The Heart’s Invisible Furies. By far my best read of the year. Best of the last 2 years come to think of it.

    The writing was excellent and the characters were whole. Too many books lately have thrown in way too many people and not fleshed them out well enough to believe in them, much less remember them a week later.

    Posted 11.9.17 Reply
    • Sarah Dickinson wrote:

      Me too! I was completely stressing out about not having clear frontrunners for Best of 2017 and now I can rest easy.

      Posted 11.14.17 Reply
  7. A ‘recovery book’ is a great way to title it. I guess in a way, I’ve also been using this method, especially when I’ve read a book that leaved me reeling. Or a book that I’ve enjoyed, but was long and detailed nonfiction and my brain just need a rest. And especially after I’ve read a book I really did not enjoy but made myself stick with it due to review commitments or book club commitments. After these I look for a shorter, light read with hopefully a feel-good ending!

    BTW, I hadn’t planned to read The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, but I’ve read a few novels set in the gold age of Hollywood and this one sounds like it will fit right in. Thanks for the review!

    Posted 11.9.17 Reply
    • Sarah Dickinson wrote:

      Yes – exactly! And I avoided Seven Husbands for awhile…SO glad I finally picked it up!

      Posted 11.14.17 Reply
  8. YES. I loved both of these. Evelyn Hugo was such an unexpected gift! I read these in the opposite order but Evelyn would be a wonderful ‘advil’ for The Heart’s Invisible Furies.

    Posted 11.9.17 Reply
  9. Anita wrote:

    Both books I hadn’t planned to read but really appreciate your take. Love this rather unique post. Thanks

    Posted 11.9.17 Reply
  10. renee wrote:

    I didn’t think I wanted to read Evelyn but after seeing your review I picked it up at the library today! Love the pairings and this feature

    Posted 11.9.17 Reply
  11. Melinda wrote:

    I hadn’t heard of “The Hearts Invisible Furies,” but I have “The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo” sitting on my TBR mountain. Maybe I’ll try to squeeze in the Boyne book first!

    Posted 11.9.17 Reply
    • Sarah Dickinson wrote:

      It’s truly amazing. I knew about it for awhile, but the premise didn’t sound enticing so I delayed picking it up until I heard raves from a couple bloggers I trust. I think it’s that word of mouth kind of book.

      Posted 11.14.17 Reply
  12. Bronwyn Freeman wrote:

    Re: the quote from The Heart’s Invisible Flurries Should I allow my brother to have sex with me if he wants to? Should you allow your husband to cheat on you? If you wanted to cheat, should your husband allow you to? According to this quote, yes, yes, and yes!

    Posted 11.12.17 Reply
    • Sarah Dickinson wrote:

      Aah, I can see how it comes across that way out of context. Within the context of the book, I think it’s referring to activities where all parties consent. The only people not consenting are/is the Church. In the book, it relates to homosexuality and tarring and feathering women who get pregnant outside of wedlock, sometimes as a result of sexual abuse.

      Posted 11.14.17 Reply
  13. Jenny Combs wrote:

    Thank you for the recommendation! Just put Evelyn’s book on hold. I thought it might be too fluffy but I’ll give it a go. Love your pairing idea! Hangover and Advil– too funny.

    Posted 11.14.17 Reply
    • Sarah Dickinson wrote:

      I thought the same thing…why I avoided it for so long. But, the story really does have depth while reading easily.

      Posted 11.14.17 Reply

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