Book Reviews, Contemporary, Historical Fiction, LGBTQIA+

Book Review: The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne


I can now officially say that I’ve read a John Boyne book!

…but did I like it?


TheHeartsInvisibleFuriesAuthor: John Boyne

Genre: Historical Fiction • Cultural: Ireland • Contemporary • LGBT+

Version: Hardback (582 pages)

Publisher: Hogarth (August 22, 2017)

Source: Blogging for Books




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Book Description

Cyril Avery is not a real Avery or at least that’s what his adoptive parents tell him. And he never will be. But if he isn’t a real Avery, then who is he?
Born out of wedlock to a teenage girl cast out from her rural Irish community and adopted by a well-to-do if eccentric Dublin couple via the intervention of a hunchbacked Redemptorist nun, Cyril is adrift in the world, anchored only tenuously by his heartfelt friendship with the infinitely more glamourous and dangerous Julian Woodbead.
At the mercy of fortune and coincidence, he will spend a lifetime coming to know himself and where he came from – and over his three score years and ten, will struggle to discover an identity, a home, a country and much more.
In this, Boyne’s most transcendent work to date, we are shown the story of Ireland from the 1940s to today through the eyes of one ordinary man. The Heart’s Invisible Furies is a novel to make you laugh and cry while reminding us all of the redemptive power of the human spirit.



Being the historical fiction lover I am, John Boyne is a name I’ve heard often.  Mostly becuase I’ve been recommended John Boyne’s most recognized work The Boy in the Stripped Pajamas, more times than I can count.   For some reason, I had just never picked up one of his books.  When I saw The Heart’s Invisible Furies was available through Blogging for Books, I jumped on the opportunity to read & review it.  I am so thankful that I did, because this book will definitely be making an appearance on my top reads of 2018 list.

*Side Note: Is anyone else bummed that Blogging for Books shut down?  What a bummer 😦

I’m so happy that the book description for this one is pretty vague, The Heart’s Invisible Furies is one of those books that it is better to go into without knowing many details.   Keeping this in mind, I’ll do my best to try and persuade you to give this book a go without going too far in depth.

So, how would I describe The Heart’s Invisible Furies?

Spanning 75 years, The Heart’s Invisible Furies is about the main character, Cyril, and his quest for his sense of identity.  Along Cyril’s journey, this book touches upon many wonderful themes & hot issue topics like intolerance & prejudice, identity, non-traditional families, forgiveness, the AIDs epidemic of the 80s, etc.  While I enjoy reading from multiple viewpoints, I appreciate a good ol’ single perspective story, and that’s what I got here.  I think reading from a single perspective throughout the entirety of the book really helps the reader connect to the main character.  I felt very invested in Cyril’s story.

The way Boyne constructed this novel was brilliant, and suited the story perfectly.  The timeline for THIF is linear, jumping ahead 7 years after each section of Cyril’s life.   The majority of the story is set in Ireland, but we also travel to Amsterdam and New York.  I not only enjoyed how Boyne decided to structure this book, but it is also very cleverly written.   I really enjoyed all the parallels between the characters and how things seemed to always come full circle.  BUT I’d have to say my favorite aspect about the book was the dry humor & witty repartee.  I found myself chuckling aloud multiple times throughout the book, which is interesting because the tone of the book isn’t exactly a cheery one.  I applaud Boyne for balancing the heaviness of the book with humor.

I would consider this book to have a slower moving plot line because the focus of the book is the characters.  If you are anticipating a wild thrill ride, this isn’t the book, but if you are looking for a roller coaster of emotions, then here you are!  I would recommend this one to fans of A Man Called Ove and The One-in-a-Million Boy not because the stories are similar by any means, but that they had a similar tone & feeling.  I would also like to note to not be intimidated by the number of pages, which I admit I was at first.  I can assure you that despite the fact the plot is a slower moving one, you’ll find yourself flying through all 582 pages.

*If you are a conservative Catholic, you might want to skip this one… Just take my word for it.


5-Star Rating System*Big thanks to Hogarth Publishing for providing me with a copy of this book via Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.


About the Author

JohnBoyneI was born in Dublin, Ireland, in 1971, and studied English Literature at Trinity College, Dublin, and creative writing at the University of East Anglia, Norwich, where I was awarded the Curtis Brown prize. I now offer a scholarship to Irish students undertaking the MA programme at UEA, more information about this can be found here.
I’ve published 10 novels for adults and five for younger readers, including The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas which was a New York Times no.1 Bestseller and was made into a Miramax feature film. It has sold more than 9 million copies worldwide. I’m also the author of the short story collection Beneath The Earth.
I am a regular book reviewer for The Irish Times and have been a judge for the Hennessy Literary Awards. the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, the Green Carnation Prize, as well as chairing the jury for the 2015 Scotiabank Giller Prize.
In 2012, I was awarded the Hennessy Literary ‘Hall of Fame’ Award for my body of work. I have also won 3 Irish Book Awards, for Children’s Book of the Year, People’s Choice Book of the Year and Short Story of the Year. I have won a number of international literary awards, including the Que Leer Award for Novel of the Year in Spain and the Gustav Heinemann Peace Prize in Germany. In 2015, I was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Letters from the University of East Anglia.
My novels are published in over 50 languages.
My most recent novel, THE HEART’S INVISIBLE FURIES, was published in early 2017.
My 11th adult novel, A LADDER TO THE SKY, will be published in August 2018.

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LetsChatHave you read The Heart’s Invisible Furies?  If so, what did you think?

Have you read any of John Boyne’s other books?  If so, which ones do you recommend?

21 thoughts on “Book Review: The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne”

  1. Wow! Solid review, Amanda. You have convinced me to pick up a book I never thought I’d be interested in! I’ve read the synopsis a few times and, honestly, it doesn’t appeal to me. But I love character drive novels and dry humor. Bring it on! Thank you for reading and recommending. 😉

    And yes, I too am bummed that Blogging for Books is no more! I can understand why they would stop, however. It’s an expensive and complex venture in this world of eARCs. Still. Sad Jackie.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am with you all regarding Blogging for Books! I LOVED getting a real, tangible book! Although, I wasn’t crazy about this one in particular.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Wonderful review of my favorite book last year. Annie’s right, it’s a book that I’ll never forget. I love that John Boyne had me laughing AND crying, sometimes on the same page. Brilliant! Did you know he has a new book, A Ladder to the Sky, coming out in November in the U.S.?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Wonderful review! I’m glad it was a good one for you… I’ve been meaning to get a copy for ages; I’ve only read his The Boy In The Striped Pajamas so far, but that one was fantastic.

    Liked by 1 person

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