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

The Heart’s Invisible Furies

by John Boyne


Blurb: 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.

My Review:

I picked this up on Netgalley as soon as I saw it and I was luckily approved. I read The Boy in the Striped Pajamas years ago with my oldest son and couldn’t wait to read this after I read a few reviews on Goodreads from some close friends. The book wasn’t what I expected and due to the myriad of feelings I have about it, I’ve been struggling to write a review on it for a few weeks now. There might be spoilers here.

The story begins with a teenage girl named Catherine who is pregnant and not accepted by her family or church any longer. It’s the 1940’s in Ireland and she’s exiled and expected to start a new life elsewhere, which she does. After her baby is born, she gives him up and he’s adopted by a couple named Charles and Maude Avery. They name him Cyril and he loves his adoptive parents very much, but he doesn’t receive the love he deserves from them and he’s consistently told, “You’re not a real Avery.”

As Cyril grows older, he begins questioning why he doesn’t seem to have an interest in girls and seems to have an attraction to only boys. At the age of 7, he discovers after meeting a boy named Julian, that he loves him and eventually they become best friends into adulthood. Julian is attractive and always interested in new women, but Cyril won’t be accepted for who he is and must live in secret by hiding behind his true self due to his sexual identity. From that moment on, he continues to act as though he has an interest in women while keeping the truth a secret because it’s not accepted by anyone and can be flat-out dangerous if someone finds out. Being gay wasn’t accepted and people who were suspected to be gay were beaten up and called names like ‘nanny boys’ and ‘queers’. Cyril loved Julian from the moment they meet, but even his best friend won’t accept the truth when he finds out that he is gay and becomes very upset with him because he didn’t tell the truth from the beginning.

As time moves forward, many different events take place. Cyril get’s married, he moves away and starts a new life, wonders where his real mother is and who he really is. Will Cyril ever find the love he deserves and will it last?

-There were parts of the story that were slow, but something would happen to pull me right back in again.

-I had many emotions when reading this book and even laughed and cried a few times. I found it sad, shocking, comical, and scary.

-I was angry with how Cyril and others were treated and parts of the story were very difficult to read. From the beginning of Cyril’s life, it seemed as though he had to live as an outsider and wasn’t accepted.

-I had a little bit of a hard time connecting with the characters at first even though they are unique, interesting, and unforgettable.

-I loved the way characters came in and out of the story as the book is written in intervals of about 7 years from the 1940’s to the present.

-The ending was exactly what I wanted. Even though I found it sad, I was happy and surprised by it. Everything I wanted to find out about was there, especially in the end.

-I was very pleased with the epilogue and glad that it was included.

I seriously want to just list out everything that happened in this book and express every emotion I had, but I’m not going to. I’m going to say that it’s a good book, written well, and I enjoyed it. At nearly 600 pages, even with the slower parts in the story, there was always something new happening and I had to finish it. I’m giving it a rating of 4 stars.

Thanks to NetGalley, the publisher, and the author for sharing this book with me in exchange for an honest review.


 Find this book on Goodreads and Amazon

  • Hardcover: 592 pages
  • Publisher: Hogarth; 1st Edition edition (August 22, 2017)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1524760781
  • ISBN-13: 978-1524760786

About the Author:

John Boyne


John Boyne (born 30 April 1971 in Dublin) is an Irish novelist.

He was educated at Trinity College, Dublin, and studied Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia, where he won the Curtis Brown prize. In 2015, he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Letters by UEA.

John Boyne is the author of ten novels for adults and five for young readers, as well as a collection of short stories.

His novels are published in over 50 languages.

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, which to date has sold more than 7 million copies worldwide, is a #1 New York Times Bestseller and a film adaptation was released in September 2008. Boyne resides in Dublin. He is represented by the literary agent Simon Trewin at WME in London, United Kingdom.

His most recent publication is the novel ‘The Heart’s Invisible Furies’, published in the UK in February 2017. It will be published in the USA in August. – Goodreads

Find John Boyne @

Goodreads | Amazon | Website


Some Other Books by John Boyne:


Have you read this book or any others by John Boyne?

Thanks for reading my review!


15 thoughts on “The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne – Book Review

  1. David R. Dowdy

    I haven’t read John Boyne yet. I hope he’s like other Irish authors who tend to write a beautiful type of prose that conjures feelings quicker than a stubbed toe.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think you’ll enjoy his writing, David. I had a lot of feelings when reading this book, but “The Boy in the Striped Pajamas” really hit me hard. You’ll have to let me know your thoughts if you end up reading one of his books. 💜🎃


  2. starjustin

    I added ‘This House is Haunted’. I see it doesn’t get fantastic ratings but I’m hoping for the best. I haven’t read anything by Boyne yet. Awesome review! 🔰

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Great review…
    first of all- I wasn’t aware The Boy in Striped Pyjamas was written by an Irish author…that book was so good! Secondly, this new one… it can easily read like someone autobiography… the issues mentioned in this book, going by your review, are something that are not that far in the Irish past and I have heard and read so many heartbreaking real life stories in this country… I will defo want to pick this book up and also try out more books by Boyne!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Liz. I loved TBitSP as well. I’ll never forget that book. Did you read The Boy at the Top of the Mountain yet? I have that one in my sights as well. This one did have an autobiographical feel to it. I hope you love it! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Just finished reading this, utterly captivating, brilliant, at first I wasn’t sure about the comic portrayal of his adoptive parents, something of a parody, it made that issue less emotive, which may have been the way the author wished to deal with it, highlighting the issue without resorting to tragedy and because there were more serious issues still to come, poor Cyril he bumped along from one life drama to the next, while trying to navigate his circumstances as best he could. Just brilliant, highly recomended reading for all.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Claire. I agree with how his adoptive parents were portrayed. I think the book could have been much more emotional, but I was still so sad for Cyril. I’m very glad to have read it. Thanks so much for sharing your opinion! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

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