Summary and book reviews of The Heart's Invisible Furies by John Boyne

The Heart's Invisible Furies

A Novel

by John Boyne

The Heart's Invisible Furies by John Boyne X
The Heart's Invisible Furies by John Boyne
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Aug 2017, 592 pages
    Paperback:
    Mar 2018, 592 pages

    Genres

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
BookBrowse First Impression Reviewers
Buy This Book

About this Book

Book Summary

From the beloved New York Times bestselling author of The Boy In the Striped Pajamas, a sweeping, heartfelt saga about the course of one man's life, beginning and ending in post-war Ireland

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 many years, 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.

part i
SHAME

1945 The Cuckoo in the Nest
The Good People of Goleen

Long before we discovered that he had fathered two children by two different women, one in Drimoleague and one in Clonakilty, Father James Monroe stood on the altar of the Church of Our Lady, Star of the Sea, in the parish of Goleen, West Cork, and denounced my mother as a whore.

The family was seated together in the second pew, my grandfather on the aisle using his handkerchief to polish the bronze plaque engraved to the memory of his parents that was nailed to the back of the woodwork before him. He wore his Sunday suit, pressed the night before by my grandmother, who twisted her jasper rosary beads around her crooked fingers and moved her lips silently until he placed his hand atop hers and ordered her to be still. My six uncles, their dark hair glistening with rose-scented lacquer, sat next to her in ascending order of age and stupidity. Each was an inch shorter than the next and the disparity showed from behind....

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!
  • award image

Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

There are numerous themes at play here: obsession vs. love; bigotry vs. openness; and cultural influences vs individual integrity. Instead of being heavy-handed in dealing with such lofty topics, John Boyne employs a steady undercurrent of humor that is disarming in its subtlety but often laugh aloud funny. The thread of the mother/son connection knits together the story as it weaves in and out of the narrative (Peggy A)...continued

Full Review (673 words).

This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access, become a member today.

(Reviewed by BookBrowse First Impression Reviewers).

Media Reviews

The Guardian (UK)
A picaresque, lolloping odyssey for the individual characters and for the nation that confines them…The book blazes with anger as it commemorates lives wrecked by social contempt and self-loathing…. a substantial achievement.

The Sunday Times (UK)
This is nothing less than the story of Ireland over the past 70 years, expressed in the life of one man…highly entertaining and often very funny…Big and clever.

Mail on Sunday (UK)
By turns savvy, witty, and achingly sad…This is a novelist at the top of his game.

THe Daily Express (UK)
An epic novel…The Heart's Invisible Furies proves that John is not just one of Ireland's best living novelists but also one of the best novelists of Ireland.

Press Association
Boyne creates lightness out of doom, humour out of desperately sad situations… a terrific read.

Library Journal
Cyril’s life story is extraordinary, tragic, and triumphant…Readers will fall in love with Boyne’s characters, especially Mrs. Goggin and Cyril’s adoptive mother, Maude Avery, in this heartbreaking and hilarious story.

Booklist
Starred Review. Boyne, who has a wonderful gift for characterization, does a splendid job of weaving these various lives together in ways that are richly dramatic, sometimes surprising, and always compelling… Often quite funny, the story nevertheless has its sadness, sometimes approaching tragedy. Utterly captivating and not to be missed.

Kirkus Reviews
Starred Review. With quick strokes and bitter humor, Boyne’s opening scene encapsulates the Irish church’s hypocrisy… Boyne continues his crusading ways with the quiet keening of this painful, affecting novel.

The Irish Times
An epic full of verve, humour and heart… sure to be read by the bucketload… deeply cinematic [and] extremely funny.

Reader Reviews

LakesClaire

The life story of a man
I just loved the narrative of this book. It starts with a bang and then flows along interspersed with tantalising events and interactions
DM

Amazing
Great book. But very emotional and heartbreaking. Cried multiple times while reading.
Sue Riggs

Spellbinding
So different from other Boyne books. Following Avery's story through the years was fascinating, his closeted love, his close approximation to his biological mother and the poignancy with which each phase of his life unfolded. Couldn't put it down.
Maribeth R. (Indianapolis, IN)

For those Who Love Jigsaw Puzzles
If you enjoy the complexities of assembling a challenging jigsaw puzzle, you will likely savor this wonderful story where the pieces elude you from time-to-time, but gently fall into place as the picture finally reveals itself. This fictionalized ...   Read More

Write your own review!

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book

The History of Homosexuality in Ireland

The Republic of IrelandIn The Heart's Invisible Furies, author John Boyne traces the evolving acceptance of homosexuality in Ireland through the life of his main character, Cyril Avery.

Historically speaking, The Republic of Ireland has a conservative reputation, but homosexuality was actually accepted and accounted for in the set of medieval laws known as the Brehon Law. It's speculated that the early inhabitants of the country practiced a warrior culture and were therefore more tolerant of physical relationships between men, as was common in other warrior cultures (e.g., the Greeks – think Achilles and Patroclus). Brehon Law specifically stated that male partnerships should be tolerated as long as neither was married, and some historians ...

This "beyond the book" feature is available to non-members for a limited time. Join today for full access.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

Readalikes

Read-alikes Full readalike results are for members only

More books by John Boyne

If you liked The Heart's Invisible Furies, try these:

  • The Dutch House jacket

    The Dutch House

    by Ann Patchett

    Published 2021

    About this book

    More by this author

    Ann Patchett, the New York Times bestselling author of Commonwealth and State of Wonder, returns with her most powerful novel to date: a richly moving story that explores the indelible bond between two siblings, the house of their childhood, and a past that will not let them go.

  • Milkman jacket

    Milkman

    by Anna Burns

    Published 2018

    About this book

    Winner of the 2018 Man Booker Prize, Milkman is a tale of gossip and hearsay, silence and deliberate deafness. It is the story of inaction with enormous consequences.

Non-members are limited to two results. Become a member
Search read-alikes again
How we choose readalikes
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

Join BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten.

Find out more


Today's Top Picks


Book Club Discussion
Book Jacket
Migrations
by Charlotte McConaghy
A breathtaking page-turner and an ode to our threatened world.

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Never Saw Me Coming
    by Vera Kurian

    "Fun, entertaining and hard to put down."
    The New York Journal of Books

  • Book Jacket

    Blind Man's Bluff
    by James Tate Hill

    A writer's humorous and often-heartbreaking tale of losing his sight—and how he hid it from the world.

Win This Book!
Win A Most Clever Girl

A Most Clever Girl by Stephanie Marie Thornton

A thrilling novel of love and espionage, based on the incredible true story of a Cold War double agent.

Enter

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

Run T G

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.