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


The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne / ★★★★★

Summary: In 1945, pregnant sixteen year old Catherine Goggin is thrown out of her tiny Irish town and goes to Dublin, where she gives up her baby. Her son, Cyril, is adopted by the Averys, who constantly remind that he’s “not a real Avery,” and he falls in love with his childhood best friend Julian, a love that goes on to pervade his life, which is full of coincidence, tragedy, wonder, and fate.

It was a difficult time to be Irish, a difficult time to be twenty-one years of age and a difficult time to be a man who was attracted to other men. To be all three simultaneously required a level of subterfuge and guile that felt contrary to my nature.

Genre: Historical Fiction


THIS BOOK. So, I haven’t rated a book 5 stars since I read A Little Life by Hanya Yanigahara about 3 months ago, and I was beginning to fear it may have ruined me for life, but I should have known my worries were for nothing. This book was the perfect book to break that streak. The Heart’s Invisible Furies tells the story of the life of Cyril Avery growing up as a gay male in twentieth century Ireland, and it was HILARIOUS and heartbreaking. The dry wit that sometimes bordered on downright wackiness is exactly the kind of humor I love, and I loved the way Boyne used it as a part of Cyril’s character and narration to relay times in Cyril’s life and Ireland’s history that were cruel and oppressive and terrible.

When I “picture” the plot of this book in my head, it takes the shape of a sprawling, squiggly line. This book is wordy, it takes on scenes that go on for entirely too long, and dialogue that goes on tangents, but I was never for a second bored. This book was so humorous and entertaining that many of these scenes were my favorite parts of the book, and after a while I began to realize exactly how poignant they were. The Heart’s Invisible Furies is about the hypocrisy of the Catholic Church, it’s influence on Ireland, the injustices against homosexuals and women, Irish nationalism and bitterness, and Boyne wrote it so well I felt that Ireland was a character in itself.

I loved how this book balanced humor and pain, as well as themes of fate and chance. The Heart’s Invisible Furies made me laugh, it made my chest hurt and it made me angry, it warmed my heart. I almost thought I would get away without it making me cry, and I did my eye makeup before reading the end, which was a mistake, because I had to do it all over again by the time I finished. I loved this book.


The way that characters are portrayed in this book took me a little while to get a grasp of, but once I understood what Boyne was doing with his humor I couldn’t get enough of it. These characters were incredibly flawed, some of them were downright awful, and yet I can’t think of a single one of them that I disliked. Cyril’s narration and portrayal of them in the story was caricaturish at times, yet other times somber, and I thought the way Boyne balanced this was brilliant. I loved these characters, and Cyril is now one of my favorite first-person narrators.


I loved the style of this book. Cyril’s narration was wordy and sprawling and yet very precise in what it was showing and telling the reader, and in how it was being told. Boyne’s prose was hilarious, dry, witty and wacky at times, yet more subdued at other times, in other settings, and with certain characters. I thought the writing of this book was absolutely brilliant.

Was I satisfied?

Yes. This book had exactly the kind of humor I love, it broke my heart, had fantastic characters, and is one of this year’s best reads for me.

I got this book through through the Book of the Month Club, from which you can pick a brand new release every month!  If you want to subscribe to Book of the Month, you can use my referral link!

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

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