El's Reviews > The Furys

The Furys by James Hanley
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's review
May 27, 12

bookshelves: early20th-centurylit
Read from May 21 to 27, 2012

This is a nice little gem I found in the clearance section of the bookstore recently. I had never heard of James Hanley, and I certainly had not heard of The Furys, but figure one can rarely go wrong for a buck or two.

The Furys is a working class family with little to provide. Fanny Fury, wife and mother, holds everything together in the best way she knows how, keeping up the house and caring for her elderly and sick father as well. She has one glimmer of hope in her life, and that's her youngest son, Peter. He was sent off seven years ago to become a priest, but the story opens with the news that he is coming home... having failed at becoming a priest. Fanny's heart is broken, but she also has the additional news that her other son has been hurt in a shipping accident.

As her family comes back together we see just how much they have been torn apart before the story starts. The name, the Furys, is appropriate to their character as a whole - each member of the family is angry in some way, and the emotion is expressed in a variety of manners, all resulting in plenty of melodrama and violence. (The latter to a surprising degree considering the book was published in 1935.)

I enjoyed the first part of the book better, going through the day-to-day routine of Fanny, living life through her mind. The story fell apart a bit for me towards the middle, but not enough to prevent me from reading. It appears this is the first in a series of semi-autobiographical novels by Hanley, though it also appears that the other books are difficult to find. I'm a pro at inadvertently finding the first book in what turns out to be a series, and then not being able to easily find the rest. But these are the sorts of things that keep me going in life.

This first installment ends on a bit of a cliff-hanger, with Fanny at her most angry, and I totally need to know what happens now.
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Reading Progress

05/21/2012 page 33
05/24/2012 page 129
32.0% ""Jute factory" is so much nicer than "whore-house"."
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