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The Heart's Invisible Furies

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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.

582 pages, Hardcover

First published February 9, 2017

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About the author

John Boyne

58 books11k followers
I was born in Dublin, Ireland, and studied English Literature at Trinity College, Dublin, and Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia, Norwich. In 2015, I was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Letters by UEA.

I’ve published 14 novels for adults, 6 novels for younger readers, and a short story collection. The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas was a New York Times no.1 Bestseller and was adapted for a feature film, a play, a ballet and an opera, selling around 11 million copies worldwide.

Among my most popular books are The Heart’s Invisible Furies, A Ladder to the Sky and My Brother’s Name is Jessica.

I’m also a regular book reviewer for The Irish Times.

In 2012, I was awarded the Hennessy Literary ‘Hall of Fame’ Award for my body of work. I’ve also won 4 Irish Book Awards, and many 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 58 languages.

My 14th adult novel, ALL THE BROKEN PLACES, a sequel and companion novel to THE BOY IN THE STRIPED PYJAMAS, will be published in the UK on September 15th 2022, in the US and Canada on November 29th, and in many foreign language editions in late 2022 and 2023.

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5 stars
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 17,914 reviews
Profile Image for Elyse Walters.
4,010 reviews586 followers
October 24, 2019
Update: If by some crazy reason you have missed this book....its a $1.99 kindle special today. I actually have a phone call to make to make sure a friend buys it today.
Not a book to hesitate buying it at this price if you’ve not taken your turn reading it yet.


I finished this seconds ago.... THE BEST NOVEL of 2017......
It's not only a FAVORITE-FAVORITE....It makes my top 10 BEST BOOKS in at least the last 5 or 6 years!!!! PHENOMENAL- long - lush perfectly escapist read!!!!

I read this book SLOW -- I SERIOUSLY LOVED it soooooo MUCH I'm 'ga-ga'/goo-goo' over this novel!!! I'm sorry it's over --- I can't imagine starting another book:
THIS novel has EVERYTHING I want in a powerful saga... AND MORE:

.....It's set against the dramatic backdrop of Irish political/ cultural Catholic Church in Ireland in the 20th century.
.....I got a deeper experience about The Parliament of Ireland - The Dial Eiereann - TD Bankers - oppression- bigotry - discrimination - hostility towards gays - and hostility towards Ireland.
THOUGHTS ABOUT IRELAND in the 40's - 50's. 60's:
......"There's not a nation on the face of the planet more obsessed with sex"......
"A degenerate race. No one talks about sex, yet it's all they think about".....( says one New Yorker character in the story).
......"Ireland is a backward place – – people with no empathy for anyone" ( says a character in Amsterdam)
......Belvedere College is a catholic college for boys: .... The society of Jesus- Its run by Jesuit priests. -- Homosexuality was considered a sin - Boys who are caught holding hands with another boy....would result in being expelled from the school. Gays were called 'nanny-boys', 'perverts' 'fags', deviants, etc.
.......The author, John Boyle... really drives home for the reader what Dublin, the Nation's Capital was like starting from the 40's .... with abusive Priests, conniving churchman, adulterous husband, miserable bigots, paupers who receive no help from the state, a town filled with innocents, and millionaires who suck the lifeblood from it. We see the changes in Ireland through the years: slowly.... ending in the year 2015.

......THIS IS A JUICY - PAGE TURNING EMOTIONALLY riveting journey with
......FANTASTIC Memorable characters.......
........with Incredibly non- stop treasure STORYTELLING- surprises - ongoing - ITS SO DAMN GREAT!!!! Funny - shocking- leaving the reader excited to see what's coming down the pipeline next!!!!!

I've pages and pages of highlighting notes on my kindle -- FEEL FREE TO READ THROUGH THEM. I was so SPENT after reading this ALL DAY TODAY....and much of yesterday...... that I'm now a little lazy to write a detail review....BUT YOU DONT NEED IT!!!! It will be soooo enjoyable to discover all the many treasures!!!!!

GREAT DISCUSSION BOOK .....BECAUSE YOU'LL miss this novel so much when it ends - you'll be excited to talk about it with other people! I can't wait!!!

I laughed - I cried - I discussed ( while laughing), this with my husband: things like: an ear - a toe - a thumb - a syringe - the scrotum - or even "remembering to comb your hair"..... and "remember where you are and what you've come here to do".....

Lots of TALK about SEX.... [A HOT TOPIC]....
From Ireland to Amsterdam to New York ...
back to Ireland.....

I WAS NEVER BORED --- NEVER!!!! I didn't want the book to end!!!

Meet sexy handsome outgoing best friend Julian. A 'charmer'....woman and men flock to him. Julian is Cyril's best friend. Cyril is gay. Julian is straight - Cyril has an obsessive secret love crush for Julian - Cyril fantasizes having sex with Julian.

Meet Good girl Mary Margaret Muffet: FUNNY DIALOGUE in every scene she is in!!
She becomes Cyril's first fiancé.

Meet Alice -- who is left at the altar once. She marries again: even more drama!!

Meet Catherine Goggin.... manages a Tea cafe - much more to learn about this awesome powerhouse woman.

Meet Bastiaan - A research scientist... A doctor of communicable disease. He's from
Amsterdam.... and there is a love story...

I've only shared a few tidbits- BUT NO SPOILERS .

Once in Amsterdam----visit galleries, Books stores , street artists, enjoy cycling, sightseeing,..... the cultured life that Cyril didn't have in Dublin.

Sooo many wonderful scenes! I HOPE this book becomes a movie - and more than that ..... I hope it wins awards after awards after awards!!!!

Highly HIGHLY recommended!!!!!!!!


Thank You Crown Publishing, Netgalley, and John Boyne
Profile Image for Emily May.
1,990 reviews298k followers
August 17, 2017
Maybe there were no villains in my mother’s story at all. Just men and women, trying to do their best by each other. And failing.

This book. THIS BOOK. I cannot remember the last time I became so thoroughly immersed in a story, fell so deeply in love with the characters, and had my heart so fully ripped out. The Heart's Invisible Furies is a masterpiece. Most people will know Boyne from his hard-hitting children's book The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, but this book is something else entirely.

I'm not sure where to start. This book has been doing well with critics so I expected it to be pretty good - I just didn't expect it to be unputdownable. I also thought it might be hard-going, but it was a really easy read, albeit long and sometimes depressing. At one point, the characters have a discussion about authors and what makes a good book and I found this quote especially fitting:
"He tells a story, and that’s what I like. Does this fella tell a story? He doesn’t spend twenty pages describing the colour of the sky?"

Because, as much as I love descriptions and metaphors and whatnot, there is nothing I love more than just a damn good story. Which I think this book is.

It is essentially the life story of Cyril Avery from conception to old age. He is a gay man born into an extremely conservative Ireland and his personal experiences are set to the backdrop of two harrowing histories - the modern history of Ireland, the IRA and terrorist bombings, and the long, difficult history of LGBT rights. It is rife with the sexism and homophobia typical of the era.

The story moves from the postwar period, showing an Ireland that is almost theocratic in its obsession with the church, to the more liberal 1980s in Amsterdam, to New York City in the middle of the AIDs crisis, and back to a more modern Ireland that is moving towards the legalization of gay marriage.

There's a lot of the kind of humour I really like, which tempers a story that is in many ways an incredibly sad one. There is profound loneliness and depression in being gay in 1960s Ireland:
The belief that I would spend the rest of my time on earth lying to people weighed heavily on me and at such times I gave serious consideration to taking my own life.

But the characters shine through the darkness with dialogue that is dry and silly:
‘What’s a pervert?’ I asked.
‘It’s someone who’s a sex maniac,’ he explained.
‘I’m going to be a pervert when I grow up,’ he continued.
‘So am I,’ I said, eager to please. ‘Perhaps we could be perverts together.’
‘I’ve never even heard of President Eisaflower,’ said Bridget with a shrug.
‘Eisenhower,’ I said.
‘Eisaflower,’ she repeated.
‘That’s it,’ I said.
‘Is that supposed to be a joke?’ she asked.
‘It was,’ I admitted. ‘As I heard the words coming out of my mouth, they sounded less amusing than I thought they would.’
‘Some people just shouldn’t try to be funny.’

Neither the history of Ireland nor the history of LGBT rights is a particularly happy one, so the humour was a really great balance to this.

And I was just completely taken with all the characters. As with the opening quote, none of them are merely heroes or villains. They are not neat and they make mistakes, sometimes horrendous ones that will challenge your ability to love them, but I, at least, found it easy to forgive them for being so painfully human. What happens toward the end of the New York chapters will come as no surprise, and yet that doesn't make it hurt any less.

The ending is absolutely perfect for this kind of story. It is happy in many ways, but it does carry a certain sadness with it. A bittersweetness to round off a life tale full of love, misery, heartache and hope. It was wonderful.

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Profile Image for Will Byrnes.
1,309 reviews120k followers
March 14, 2022
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.
I imagine I must have been under some sort of a curse for the last sixteen years or so. How else to explain that I just finished reading my first John Boyne novel. Must be the luck of the Irish, well the Irish-American, anyway. Boyne is a writer from the Auld Sod who has written ten adult novels, five YA novels, a short story collection, and god knows what else. He is best known for his 2006 work, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, and is probably pretty tired of being asked about it, well, as irked as one can decently be about a book that sold millions, and was made into a major film. The income from his book sales and movie rights has allowed him to spend his days writing. He has won crocks full of awards, and been nominated for a bunch more. Part of my misfortune is not having a base against which to compare his latest novel, The Heart’s Invisible Furies, to his prior work. If you find that troubling, you might stop reading now and look for a pot of reviewing gold elsewhere. Are there themes that re-appear after having been considered in earlier work? Dunno. Maybe characters who appeared in one guise or another in earlier work, scenes that are replayed, rewritten here? Sorry. Is this his best book? No idea. But if this is not his best, then goddam.

John Boyne - from his Instagram pages

In 2015, voters approved the thirty fourth amendment to the Irish Constitution, with over 62% in favor. The amendment had been supported by all the major political parties. On its face, it is a remarkable achievement that a nation’s voters would make their country the first to offer profound popular support for change so long in coming. That the voters ignored the railing against the referendum by their country’s once all-powerful Catholic Church was a signal achievement. Ireland became the first nation on earth in which same-sex marriage was guaranteed by popular vote. Inspired by this possibility, even before the vote was held, John Boyne decided to look at the duration of a lifetime leading up to the event.
I wanted Cyril to represent the country and how it has evolved over those 70 years. Although Cyril is gay, he is very frightened of that fact when he is a younger man and is terrified of the consequences of anyone finding out. He lies to himself, he lies to his friends and he lies to a woman he plans to marry. Homosexuality was still illegal in Ireland until the early 1990s, so it was a very difficult place for any gay man or woman to be. But eventually he starts to change, he begins to accept who he is and becomes proud of that. And so it is with Ireland itself, which has evolved for the better over those years. - from the BookBrowse interview
Boyne tracks that history step-wise, each chapter taking place seven years after the last, believing (erroneously as it turns out) that every seven years all our cells are replaced and so we are, in a sense, a new person.

We begin in 1945, with the pregnancy of sixteen-year-old Catherine Goggin, and her being publicly cast out of her community by the laughably hypocritical parish priest. (See the quote at the top of this review, which is also the opening of the book)

Cyril, the product of Catherine’s illicit union, and in vitro narrator in chapter one, appears on the outside in chapter 2, in 1952, now the adopted son of a well-to-do couple. Father, sorry, adoptive father, Charles Avery, works in finance. (You’ll never be a real Avery.) Mom, sorry, adoptive mom, Maude, is a writer, who emerges from a cloud of permanent cigarette smoke every now and then to exchange banter with Cyril and anyone else in the vicinity. She is not particularly interested in having a large readership. In fact, she finds such a notion vulgar. Cyril’s conversational capabilities require some belief suspension, but once you have hoisted yours a few feet off the ground, Boyne will make you roar with laughter. The family exchanges are often ROFL level, recalling the madcap comedies of an earlier age, but imbued with a modern sensibility. Aside from getting adopted, the second most important thing to happen to Cyril in this seven-year patch is meeting Julian, a boy who bubbles over with brains, beauty and charisma. He is the son of Charles’s (much needed) attorney, Max. Cyril is smitten. He does not know it yet, but he is gay, and Julian is his first crush.
We’re none of us normal. Not in this fucking country.
Each seven-year leap offers another look at what it was to be gay in the painfully Catholic Ireland of the late 20th and early 21st century. As an adolescent at school, as a randy twenty-one-year-old, and a randy twenty-eight-year old, and so on. How can one find love when that love places you at risk of imprisonment? We track societal events as well, with mention of deviant priests, terrorist (IRA) attacks and kidnappings, the attraction of free love in the 60s, the inclusion of female members in the Dáil Éireann (Irish assembly), and 9/11, among others.

Boyne’s view of his beloved Ireland contains a rich supply of outrage. In addition to the priest of the opening paragraph publicly shaming and expelling a pregnant 16-year-old, a murderer is set free because a jury finds “that his crime had been committed under the extreme provocation of having a mentally disordered son.” Crooked cops, bribed jurors, a blackmailing lawyer, child-abusing priests, (by reference only, thankfully) political sorts of the terroristic stripe, a boy expelled from a school on trumped up charges because of his parents’ politics, violent homophobes, pimping parents, corrupt financiers, compulsive womanizers, and over all, the shame and hypocrisy nails hammered into Irish society by The Church. An émigre speaks to this.
“Here’s the thing you have to understand about Ireland,” he said, leaning forward now and pointing a finger at me. “Nothing will ever change in that fucking place. Ireland is a backward hole of a country run by vicious, evil-minded, sadistic priests and a government so in thrall to the collar that it’s practically led around on a leash. The Taoiseach does what the Archbishop of Dublin says and for his obeisance he’s given a treat, like a good puppy. The best thing that could happen to Ireland would be for a tsunami to rise up in the Atlantic Ocean and drown the place with all the vengeance of a biblical flood and for every man, woman and child to disappear forever.
Physical violence figures large in The Furies, with gay men being subjected to homophobic arrest, assault, and murder. Parents attack their own sons. Then there is the more usual sort of physical mayhem, from cuckolded husbands seeking vengeance to the IRA blowing things up and kidnapping people for ransom.

There are two major lines to follow here, Cyril’s development as a character, from confusion, to fear, to understanding and acceptance, and the corresponding changes in Irish society. There are also two moods at work. Cyril’s struggle to find love and some happiness in the world is fraught with extreme peril, not even counting the AIDS epidemic, which is addressed in good measure. There is also a large volume of hilarity. The banter sparkles, offering a welcome antidote to the darker parts of Cyril’s tale. You will laugh out loud, even while recognizing that Boyne’s younger characters often speak in ways that are years beyond what anyone would believe possible. The humor permeates and is effervescent.
“What’s wrong with you people?” he asked, looking at me as if I was clinically insane. “What’s wrong with Ireland? Are you all just fucking nuts over there, is that it? Don’t you want each other to be happy?”
“No,” I said, finding my country a difficult one to explain. “No, I don’t think we do.”
While the novel casts a steely eye at Irish society, it offers considerable warmth to many of its characters. Cyril is an everyman who just wants to find his way, and cope with the restrictions placed on him by an ignorant world. In a sense, he is looking for his true home. Catherine Goggin is a powerful woman making her way by virtue of her will, abetted by a kind, understanding heart, and a deep well of wisdom. Some characters seem a bit thin. Julian’s charm comes through early on, but he seems one-dimensional after that. Cyril’s true love is just too good to be true. Some of the baddies are also painted in single colors. A character who really is named Miss Muffett may have a unicolor green stick up her bum, but her snooty condescension and self-importance are also quite a funny send-up of the worst of the more ancient sorts of attitudes extant on the Emerald Isle.

Novelists often write about writing and Boyne has a bit of fun with the subject. Maude Avery, Cyril’s adoptive mother holds a dim view of her profession.
“Do you enjoy being a writer, Mrs Avery?” asked Julian.
“No, of course not, she said. “It’s a hideous profession. Entered into by narcissists who think their pathetic little imaginations will be of interest to people they’ve never met.”
Boyne brings notable Irish author Brendan Behan into the tale for a short romp.
“Was everything you said in your book true?” asked Julian. In Borstal Boy, I mean.
“Christ, I hope not,” said Behan, shaking his head as he lifted his next pint. “A book would be terribly boring if everything in it was true, don’t you think? Especially an autobiography. I can’t remember half of it anyway, so I presume I’ve slandered a few people along the way.”
In a more positive writerly vein, Boyne was strongly influenced by his admiration for John Irving, to whom he dedicated the book.
I read The Cider House Rules when I was 17 years old and quickly devoured all of John Irving's novels. Since then, he has been my favourite novelist. I admire his storytelling abilities but also his empathy for what he has always described as "sexual misfits." John was writing about transgender people, for example, in The World According to Garp, long before that was a subject that was talked about. – from the bookbrowse interview
Whether you are straight, gay, bisexual, asexual, or fall into any other of the increasing number of possible gender slots, Cyril will speak to you. He is really just a guy looking for love and a home, and you will want him to succeed. John Boyne leads us on a trail of medieval hypocrisy and mean-spiritedness that ends in a national triumph of sanity. The Heart’s Invisible Furies is a moving, epic tale that is a triumph of literary achievement. It is one of the best books of 2017 and must not be missed.
“It happens,” he said with a shrug. “We all fall in the shit many times in our lives. The trick is pulling ourselves out again.”

Published – August 22, 2017

Review Posted - August 25, 2017

=============================EXTRA STUFF

Links to the author’s personal, Twitter and Instagram pages

-----The Guardian – Meet the author - John Boyne: ‘The church has become a spent force’ - by Hannah Beckerman – February 19, 2017
-----HotPress - About The Boy: The John Boyne Interview - by Jason O’Toole – February 13, 2017
-----BookBrowse - An Interview with John Boyne - by Melissa Firman – July 2017

Ok, the following link does not really have all that much to do (anything, really) with the book, but it turned up in my research. It contains a list of Irish Slang, much of it profane, that will put you at risk of laughing your clackers off.

November 9, 2017 - The Heart’s Invisible Furies is among the nominees for Amazon's book of the year - Literature and Fiction
Profile Image for Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin.
3,534 reviews9,937 followers
December 26, 2018
UPDATE: In Audible US sale today 12/26/18

The first paragraph of the book is what grabbed me:

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.

Pretty powerful stuff, that. Little Cyril is telling the story as a babe not even born yet and the story he told, whew. I was appalled at what that priest did to his mom. Threw her out of town and hit her. I really can't stand those priests of old.

Catherin Goggin is a 16 year-old-girl who is pregnant and kicked out of the only home town she has known. But she makes it in Dublin with the help of some wonderful people. Some that didn't have a happy ending themselves.

Cyril is adopted to another couple who are very strange. I guess they loved Cyril in their own way and was never hurt but all of his life he seemed to miss out on something. A little clueless to things in the world.

The story is told in different times of Cyril's life, from birth until old age. It is all very bittersweet and there are some really funny moments. I really enjoyed Cyril. I thought he was funny and sweet and as an adult he had some hard times. Friends dying or being killed.

Cyril was a gay man living in a time where you could be put in jail for it or killed and nothing done about it. Some of the things are just too horrific to even think about.

I loved how the story connected so many people in the book over the years. Cyril even meets his real mom at one point and neither of them even know it. I wanted to scream at someone, but that's the way it goes.

The ending made me very happy, some sadness, but mostly happy

Mel ♥

*Thank you to bloggingforbooks for a hardback copy of this book*

MY BLOG: Melissa Martin's Reading List
Profile Image for Maureen .
1,442 reviews7,063 followers
January 2, 2018
So it's my last review of 2017, and my year in books has ended pretty much as it began with an excellent 5 star read. John Boyne is a truly gifted writer and 'The Heart's Invisible Furies' is simply mesmerising.

Cyril Avery was born out of wedlock to 16 year old Catherine Coggins. Because of this, Catherine is banished from the small Irish Community where she's lived all her life. This is 1940's Ireland where Catholic priests very much ruled their communities. Publicly denounced as a whore by the parish priest in front of the whole congregation at Sunday Mass, she boards a bus for Dublin and turns her back on everything and everyone she's ever known.

Baby Cyril is adopted by a wealthy but unconventional couple, and although he isn't badly treated, he's never shown any real love and is constantly reminded that he's not a real Avery and never will be.

As Cyril grows older, he begins to realise that he's not like other boys, he has no interest in girls, and indeed when he meets Julian Woodbead at the age of 7, he's completely obsessed with him and this will continue for many years. He begins to see Julian as the love of his life, however it's a love that's not returned and something he has to keep secret - this was a time when it was a criminal offence to be homosexual, and at the very least would land you a severe beating.

As the years pass we share Cyril's life, firstly in Ireland, then onto Amsterdam where the laws were more lenient towards the gay community, and where he meets his future partner, and then finally to America, where he has to face one of the biggest tragedies of his life.

Oh gosh! This was a family saga of the highest order, covering seven decades, and it deals with issues that would appear unbelievable today. The author demonstrates how the Catholic Church created unbearable situations for families through it's hypocritical small minded beliefs.

It was an emotional read that had me chuckling at times, yet left me tearful at others. I became completely invested in the characters, and wanted to rage at the way Cyril was treated because of his homosexuality - he just wanted to live like everyone else with the one he loved - was that too much to ask?

The writing was that of a master at work, the characters were an eclectic bunch, but all the better for it, and the storyline broke my heart at times with its political and cultural prejudice.

At around 600 pages this isn't a quick read, but if you choose to read it, just savour every page, because if you're like me, you'll be really sorry when it comes to an end. A truly powerful read, and a tremendous finish to 2017.

*Thank you to Random House UK, Transworld Publishers for my copy in exchange for an honest review*
Profile Image for jessica.
2,555 reviews35.5k followers
May 21, 2019
let us all take a brief moment of silence and remember the old me, the person i was before i read this book; because by the end of the story, i became someone new and improved.

i knew this was going to be a 5 star read within the first couple of chapters, but the absolute magnitude of this story is truly astonishing. and im finding it difficult to adequately describe the raw sincerity and intense emotional pull of this book.

i have never used the word ‘unputdownable’ before in a review, but maybe thats because i knew i was saving it for this one - for a story that teaches through tender feelings and the fragility of human connection, for a story that makes the reader not only examine their life but the lives of those around them, for a story that makes the heart grow and love.

this is such a special book and one i now hold dear.

5 stars
Profile Image for Candace.
1,176 reviews4,330 followers
September 19, 2017
Well, I'm definitely in the minority with this one. With an overall average rating of 4.49, based on thousands of reviews, I had expected this book to be a sure thing for me. It just goes to show you that it doesn't always work out that way.

That being said, I can definitely see the appeal of this story for a lot of readers. This book addresses many important topics and tackles some controversial subject matter. It covers a period of time that spans decades, from the 1940's to present-day, lending to an "epic" feel.

Despite all of that, I still didn't love it. I liked it most of the time. The rest of the time, I was bored to death. This audiobook was so long that I didn't feel like I'd ever finish it. Much of that time was spent with mundane descriptions of the main characters daily life and other uneventful filler. While it helped to give a "complete" picture of the social climate and setting, it also made the book drag, in my opinion.

The book tells the story of Cyril Avery, a boy born out of wedlock to a young girl that was outcast by her family and community when her pregnancy was discovered. With no way to provide for herself, much less a baby, Cyril's birth mother decides to put him up for adoption. He was adopted by a wealthy couple in Dublin, who treated him more like a houseguest that had overstayed their welcome than a child that they wanted.

Early-on, Cyril had my sympathy. He was an outsider, even within his own home. His adoptive parents were deplorable at worst and indifferent at best. They provided for Cyril financially, but constantly reminded him that he wasn't a "real" Avery. They only laid claim to him when it suited their personal interests, such as when his adoptive father faced jail time and wanted to appear more sympathetic to the jury.

Cyril's only friend was a boy named Julian, who Cyril had been in love with since they first met. As the boys grew older, Cyril's feelings only intensified. However, he didn't reveal his feelings to Julian or anyone else.

Cyril played the part, going on dates with girls and taking a backseat to Julian's boisterous antics. As Julian slept his way through the female population, Cyril was the reliable, reserved sidekick. He maintained a façade of being a "respectable" and responsible, aka "heterosexual", young man. Meanwhile, he snuck around at night in seedy areas of the seedy where he could indulge in sexual encounters with strange men.

Mostly, I felt sad for Cyril. He couldn't ever relax and just be himself. Instead, he was forced to pretend to be somebody that he wasn't. If his secret came out, he would face persecution. He couldn't risk that, being that Julian might reject him. After all, Julian was the only person in his life that had ever really seemed to care about him at all. Although, in my opinion, I think poor Cyril always ended up getting the short end of the stick in that relationship. Julian always seemed kind of selfish to me.

As the story progressed, there were several big developments. Cyril eventually does find love and is able to live openly as a gay man. However, it was a long, slow journey. Other "big" events along the way, failed to elicit much interest for me. I barely batted an eye as Julian's kidnappers were sending home body parts. That was another clear indication that I just wasn't feeling it.

In the end, I give this one 3.5 stars. It was good, even beautiful at times, but it just didn't move me the way I had anticipated. I read for entertainment before enlightenment, so this type of book is a little outside of my normal type. I liked it, but now it's time for me to gladly jump back into the kiddie pool.

Check out more of my reviews at www.bookaddicthaven.com
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Paromjit.
2,705 reviews25k followers
April 9, 2017
The Catholic Church has an unpardonable and deplorable history mired in horrors such as support for fascist regimes in Spain, Germany, Italy, its oppositon to liberation theology whilst buttressing the power of the tyrannical dictators of South and Central America and its brutal history in Ireland. John Boyne embodies the heartbreaking history of Ireland and the Catholic Church in the post war years from 1945 to 2015 through the ordinary life and times of Cyril Avery. It is ambitious, moving, unforgettable and epic in scope, incorporating real life characters and events, and documents the ground breaking shifts in Irish attitudes and culture. It begins with a vicious and hypocritical priest publicly denouncing the pregnant Catherine as a whore in public, with the support of her family and expelling her. Her son, Cyril, is adopted by Roger and Maud Avery, who inform Cyril that he is not family, simply a family tenant for the period of 18 years. Cyril lives in Dublin, Amsterdam and the city of New York.

Cyril comes to realise that he is gay in a society that condemns and criminalises him, ensuring that he is fearful and secretive whilst igniting an unbearable self hatred within him. The sanctimonious, misogynist, and judgemental Catholic church refers to being gay as a mortal sin, sanctioning punitive communities who relish in gossip that shred lives and reputations with impunity. The most important people in Cyril's life are childhood friend, Julian Woodbead who he meets when he is 7 years old and the dedicated and insightful Dutch docter, Bastiaan, encountered in Amsterdam who views Irish attitudes with bemusement. There is much sex and the deployment of the blackest of comedy and humour in the horrors, misfortunes and trials that befall Cyril through the years. This is a coming of age story, an emotional search for a sense of identity, home and country. Boyne's justifiable rage at a church and nation that inflicts such harrowing damage to its citizens is something I wholeheartedly share in spades. A Catholic Church bought to its knees by abuse and scandals is a welcome progressive development in Irish history, the people voting for gay marriage even more so. However, it barely atones for what happens to Cyril and others like him.

This is a savagely funny and entertaining read with a emotional and compelling narrative with such heart. The prose is beautifully expressive, vital and vivid. The character of Cyril is brilliantly developed to chime with Irish history. There are perhaps some questionable coincidences but they do not prevent the enjoyment of the story. I particularly loved the way Boyne celebrates the kindness and tolerance of ordinary people juxtaposed with a country ill served by corrupt, self serving politicians. An exceptionally brilliant book that I loved and cannot recommend highly enough. Thanks to Random House Transworld for an ARC.
Profile Image for Meredith (Trying to catch up!).
814 reviews12.7k followers
January 21, 2019

“We’re none of us normal. Not in this f*cking country.”

I don’t have the words to do this book justice, so all I will say is that I loved everything about this book: the characters, the plot, the sentences. Every moment, every word, every second of reading. It's perfection!
Profile Image for Kevin Ansbro.
Author 5 books1,468 followers
June 16, 2022
"Why should we take advice on sex from the pope? If he knows anything about it, he shouldn't."
-George Bernard Shaw

At the outset, author John Boyne sets the scene that will lay the foundation for this bittersweet, decade-traversing novel: sixteen-year-old Catherine Goggan is with child in a god-fearing, godforsaken part of rural Ireland. But this is Ireland in 1945, when blind prejudice is as ubiquitous as clover in the meadows. And, because of her supposedly egregious sin, the town's misogynistic, self-righteous, hypocritical arse of a priest feels entitled to brandish her a filthy whore in front of the church's pitiless congregation. Acting as God's sole representative on Earth, he kicks her to the ground and summarily banishes her from the town, never to darken its doors again.
There ensues a rites-of-passage story shadowing the chequered life of her son, whom she's forced to relinquish after giving birth to him in the most desperate of circumstances.
Adopted by Dublin's most eminently dysfunctional parents, the boy is named Cyril.
And so the story barrelled along wonderfully for the first 40% of my read. The characters were exquisitely dissolute and the humour so wickedly irreverent that it almost caused me to pop a rib through laughing so hard. The dialogue would have given any literary great, alive or dead, a run for their money and I was already thinking that this was the best thing I'd read this year (having said precisely the same thing about Jess Kidd's Himself only a few days earlier).
There was a touch of Dickens's Great Expectations about this sweeping novel and I was squealing with pure delight, enjoying it to the point that I was willing to forgo food and sleep.

But... (why is there almost always a 'but'?)

Halfway through, the story went off the boil; the characters began to lose their lustre as Boyne substituted tragedy and humour with tragedy and pathos. For me, the book mislaid its mojo from here on in. Admittedly, Boyne's sensitive handling of the AIDS epidemic was nobly done; there are scenes here that would bring a statue to tears, but the author clearly felt that it would be insensitive of him to continue with the humour (which would be fine if the book was serious from the get-go, but it wasn't). He had no such qualms about injecting a vein load of humour when a vulnerable teenager was ostracised by an entire community and left to fend for herself in the most trying of circumstances.

Cyril, the main character, was a huge disappointment to me. He was initially a likeable little boy, struggling to come to terms with his blossoming homosexuality in a hetero Ireland where "homosexuals don't exist". Somehow, though, he becomes a selfish, self-pitying, covetous adult, who only seems able to focus on his own troubles.
Well, boo-hoo you, I thought, considering the terrible trials and tribulations that were happening to people all around him, gay and straight. If only some of his birth or adoptive mothers' mettle had rubbed off on him!

For me, the book was at its page-turning best when it was alive with some of the funniest dialogue I've ever feasted on. In its melting pot of humanity, my favourite characters were Cyril's cavalier friend, Julian, for whom he held a secret crush, and the delightfully-realised Mary "it's not my standard" Muffet. Both possessed a cinematic quality that was impossible to ignore; I could picture them as clearly as if I was in their company. Bravo, John Boyne!

Despite the book going off the rails in its middle stages, it does redeem itself at the end and I couldn't possibly award it anything less than five gleaming stars.
It is, without a shadow of a doubt, a hugely enjoyable read!
November 30, 2022
I was hesitant going into this book, mainly because of its length. But it has just become one of my favourite books of all time! This is an incredibly easy 5 stars to give.

The Hearts Invisible Furies follows the life of Cyril Avery. At a young age Cyril struggled to grasp an identity, feeling lost and unsure. Over his life he tries to come to terms with who he is and the reality of his home country.

I feel a great sadness that this book is over. Although it’s quite a long read, and it took me longer to get through than usual, I savoured every single page. Cyril’s reality completely surrounded me and I found myself looking forward to my chance to curl up with this book each day. Boyne created such incredibly vivid characters, each with distinct personalities and flaws. No one is all good or all bad, we all make mistakes in our journey through life. I loved seeing all sides of these wonderful characters, who came to feel like friends by the end of the novel.

This book tackles some really difficult topics, there are a whole host of triggers so please read it with caution. Initially, I was making jokes about what awful thing could possibly happen next…and actually ended up being right! However, as I got into the novel I really appreciated Boyne’s willingness to show the realities of some peoples lives. At one point, I felt so overwhelmed by the depth of my sadness that I had to stop reading. The moment was just too beautiful and too raw for me to continue. I had tears in my eyes many times during this read. However, it also made me chuckle and smile more times than I can count. Boyne balanced the sadness beautifully with some splashes of humour. I cannot wait to read more by this author!

I would recommend this book to any fans of literary fiction, especially if you like an Irish setting! But please be cautious of triggers.
Profile Image for Adina .
889 reviews3,525 followers
January 16, 2018
4.5* rounded up. I subtracted half a star because I had to suspend disbelief with all the coincidences that take place in the novel. No way would they be possible in real life.

Yes, yes, yes. I finally found a novel that everybody raves about that I also loved. The Heart’s Invisible Furies made me feel everything, I laughed, I was sad, I was hopeful and then disappointed, I was enraged by the people’s mentalities and I even wanted to punch a couple of the characters in the face, even the main character (and hug him afterwards).

The novel begins in post WW2 Ireland, a country of sexual suppression ruled by the mighty Catholic Church. A 16 years young girl is thrown out of the church and her rural family home because she dared to become pregnant. Alone, she buys a ticket to Dublin to find her luck and give birth. The novel is the story of the child’s life. We meet him when he is 8 years old and living with his adopted family who remind him with every occasion that he isn’t really one of them. We will stay with him while he discovers his sexuality, falls in love for the first time, struggles to find a place in the unforgiving Dublin and so on. We will follow him from Dublin to Amsterdam, with a short stop in the Aids infested New York and back to Ireland. Such a fascinating trip in a wonderful company.

I cannot decide if the book is more of a comic novel or a tragedy. It really has everything. I was laughing one page only to be almost in tears or swearing between my teeth the next. One of the main characters is Ireland and its stupid, stupid Catholic prejudices and hypocrisy. The way faith managed to destroy so many lives by not accepting any deviation from “normality” made me incredibly angry. Apparently, you could even get away with murder if you killed your gay son as it was understandable to be upset by such dishonor. I am happy that Ireland changed so much over the years and it is now an example of tolerance in Europe.

The main character is likable, but it is not perfect which is another aspect that I appreciated. He made some stupid mistakes and he did not realize the impact his actions had for other people and he did not gave the impression he cared enough. I also thought the other characters were well portrayed, interesting, although some of the traits were exaggerated for dramatic/comic purposes.
My only complaint, as I wrote above, is that some of the plot is unbelievable. There are some coincidental meetings between characters when I had to scream No way, in my mind. I understand that it made things more interesting but it moved the story more towards the fantasy realm.

As you can see, I loved this novel and it seems the year started very well. I hope it will continue in the same manner.

Thank you to Random House UK, Transworld Publishers for my copy in exchange for an honest review
Profile Image for Diane S ☔.
4,779 reviews14.2k followers
November 10, 2017
When I first started reading this I had no idea of how much I would end up loving this book. Felt that way for the first 100 pages or so, not that I wasn't liking it but the beginning sometimes seemed a by muddled, couldn't figure out where it was going. It starts in the forties, in an Ireland where Catholic priests held way too much power over the lives of their parishioners. A young woman, barely sixteen and pregnant is literally drummed out of the church, after refusing to name the father of her baby, and told to leave the village and never return.

I fell in love with the child produced, Cyril and we will follow his life over the course of seventy years, each segment continuing after the passing seven years. When he is seven something happens that changes and affect his life for many, many years. For many years he also struggles with his homosexuality, and that of course is the main theme of this story. We travel from Ireland, to Holland, where the laws and attitudes were markedly different, to New York during the terrible and horrific Aids crisis. A tragedy will unfold there, once again changing the course of his life,and eventually we end up full circle back in Ireland but an Ireland much changed.

This book is brimming with life in all its messy permutations. Sadness and joy, sorrow and pain, friendship and love and eventually peace and forgiveness. This is a big sprawl of a novel, a huge undertaking but we meet many along the way, all adding additional insight into the story. Life's coincidences also abound and some of the happenings are surprising. This book got into my heart and under my skin. The dialogue is outstanding, often humorous, seemingly like a comedy of errors and my favorite part of this book. Not sure yet if this will be my favorite book of the year but it is definitely my favorite of the month.

ARC from publisher.
Publishes August 22nd from Hogarth.
Profile Image for Carol.
1,370 reviews2,155 followers
June 22, 2017

In THE HEART'S INVISIBLE FURIES, the story begins in Ireland and Catholic priests rule.

As for this reader, John Boyne rules.....Get ready to laugh, be shocked, appalled and heartbroken (continuously) as you read Cyril Avery's life story. We have here excellence in story-telling, amazing characters with outlandish names AND personalities that fit them to a big fat T.

Adopted as a baby to peculiar parents (to say the least) Cyril is often reminded he is not a real Avery; but even treated as an outsider in his own home, he just seems to go with the flow.....until his hormones reach explosion level, that is, and he seeks help to decipher why he seems to like boys.

With strange parental guidance and no emotional support to speak of, a sexually frustrated young Cyril resorts to the confessional, and (OMG) that does not go too well either. The writing is so effective here, I could almost feel the.....um fallout.

Anyway, as the story evolves, even in America, Cyril and "his lot" endure cruelty and hardships of the worst kind. As for the reader....the shocks just keep on coming.

DO NOT miss this one! Highly Recommend!

Many thanks to NetGalley, John Boyne and Crown Publishing for the ARC in exchange for my honest review. Loved it!

Profile Image for Angela M .
1,308 reviews2,192 followers
July 28, 2017
I'm finding it difficult to do justice to this story that evoked so many emotions, sometimes from one extreme to another. I was sad and angry among moments of joy and there were times when I laughed out loud. The story a man struggling in a society that doesn't accept homosexuality, living with the odd people who adopted him at three days old, who said he'd never be an Avery . How is it possible for him to have a capacity for love, for caring when he experiences no love or comfort or caring in these early years with his cold "adoptive " parents? Yet, Cyril can love. As much as a reader can love a character, I loved Cyril from the very beginning as he tells us Cathrine's story at the start of the novel and the start of his life . I especially was drawn to the descriptive writing when sixteen year old and pregnant Catherine arrives in Dublin after being exiled from her home. The descriptions were so clear, I felt as though I was standing there with her .

So much ground is covered here - the hypocrisy of the Catholic Church denouncing and banishing a young pregnant girl by the priest who should not throw stones as he himself has fathered illegitimate children, the Church's hold in Ireland, the prejudice and injustice against gay people not just from the church but most of society. Spanning 70 years and highlighting historical events over time and place - from the IRA violence in Dublin to New York City and the AIDS epidemic to Amsterdam back to Dublin, the story is epic. But mostly it is one man's journey in his struggle to be who he is in times when it doesn't seem possible and mostly his unwavering and amazing capacity to love in spite of everything.

I received an advanced copy of this book from Hogarth/Crown Publishing through NetGalley.
Profile Image for Larry H.
2,509 reviews29.4k followers
July 10, 2017
Few authors can slay me emotionally while simultaneously making me think, the way that John Boyne does. His book The Absolutist (see my original review), is one of my favorite books of all time, and also made my list of the best books I read in 2012. Five years later, I still can't get that book out of my mind or my heart.

While not all of Boyne's books have caught my interest, his latest, The Heart's Invisible Furies , utterly knocked me out. I read the entire book in one day (thanks to two airplane trips, a delayed flight, and time to kill before an out-of-town meeting), and found myself at various times moved, angered, touched, perplexed, and devastated. (Sometimes I existed in more than one of these states simultaneously.)

I honestly don't know if there are appropriate words to express how much I love Boyne's writing, so I'll turn to Janice from the television show Friends :

Cyril Avery is born in 1945 out of wedlock to a fiercely independent teenager in Dublin, who is cast out in disgrace by her small Irish village. Adopted by Charles, a wealthy, womanizing ne'er-do-well and Maud, his novelist wife (who writes like a fiend but is horrified if her books sell or get any fanfare), whose parenting style consist mostly of forgetting he's there, forgetting he's a child, and reminding him he's adopted, Cyril is a quiet, intellectual child, mostly observing the crazy behaviors around him.

When he is seven years old he meets Julian Woodbead, the son of Charles' lawyer and childhood friend. Even at seven, Julian is infinitely more glamorous and worldly than anyone Cyril can imagine, and Cyril is utterly transfixed by him. This chance encounter begins a lifelong relationship which will bring Cyril to the greatest heights and the lowest lows, force him to understand who he is and what he wants and feels he deserves from life, and come to terms with his homeland and its domination by religion, as well as his unique upbringing.

The Heart's Invisible Furies follows Cyril from birth and then moves in seven-year intervals through his life. This is a searing look at how all too often we hide our true selves from those we care about, out of fear, self-loathing, and self-preservation, but it's also a look at how circumstances both within and beyond our control shape our lives and our chances at happiness and satisfaction. This is a story of friendship, love, bravery, pain, loss, violence, politics, religion, prejudice, and trying to find peace within ourselves, against a backdrop of some of the more tumultuous times in our world.

While my description makes this book sound more ambitious than it is, at its heart, this is a book about love of all kinds. Boyne's writing truly took my breath away at times, and even if I found Cyril's character a little too passive occasionally, I still felt for him, as well as the other characters Boyne created. There was a little too much violence in this book (not truly graphic in every case) but I know the scenes were in keeping with the world and time in which they were set.

This book didn't leave me in tears as often as The Absolutist did, but it moved me all the same. (And speaking of The Absolutist, props to Boyne for a subtle tip of the hat to that book in this one.) This is a book that needs to be read, be felt, and be pondered. I know I'll be thinking of the beauty and emotion of The Heart's Invisible Furies for some time.

NetGalley and Crown Publishing provided me an advance copy of the book in exchange for an unbiased review. Thanks for making this available!

See all of my reviews at http://itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blo....
Profile Image for Candi.
622 reviews4,714 followers
October 7, 2021
4.5 stars

"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."

Catherine Goggin, age sixteen, had the misfortune of finding herself unwed and pregnant in a time and place wholly unforgiving of her condition – the time being the mid-1940s, and the place Ireland, a country then in the clutches of an unforgiving Catholic Church. Banished from home and community, Catherine boards a bus to Dublin and a new life. Her newfound freedom will not allow her to keep her baby, however – the people of Dublin are no more empathetic to her plight than those of Goleen. Thus begins Cyril’s life under the care of the Averys, a well-to-do childless couple who are the most unlikely of parents. "Charles Avery, who, along with his wife, Maude, opened their home to me after signing a sizable check to the Redemptorist convent for all their help in the matter of finding a suitable child. From the start, they never pretended to be anything other than my adoptive parents and, in fact, schooled me in this detail from the time I could first understand the meaning of the words."

The Heart’s Invisible Furies takes one on an emotional, turbulent, and often humorous journey spanning seven decades in the life of Cyril Avery. This remarkable novel is told through Cyril’s voice, and his voice is one you will not easily forget. Like his mother before him, Cyril will be ‘guilty’ of a ‘crime’ in Catholic Ireland – homosexuality is as unpardonable as unwed motherhood. Throughout his life, he will experience and suffer from loneliness, lust, hypocrisy and bigotry, love, and grief. Most of all, Cyril’s story is that of the struggle to fit in, accept his identity, and ultimately grasp the always-elusive true happiness. In this pursuit, we will follow Cyril from an unsympathetic Dublin to the more tolerant Amsterdam, to New York City in the grip of the AIDS epidemic, and back once again to a transformed Dublin.

John Boyne is without a doubt a masterful storyteller. At approximately six hundred pages, this is a bit of a tome, but it engages the reader throughout. The pages turn quickly, and I never tired of it. Every character is written thoughtfully; each is unique and with a set of flaws that make him or her memorable and genuine. I even loved the not-so-likeable folks, oozing with so much vitality. Cyril, Catherine, Julian, Charles, Maude, Mary-Margaret and Alice are among the many that nearly walk straight from the pages of the book and into your own life for a time. I think this would have been a very heavy read if Boyne had written this any differently. The humor, sometimes understated and other times undisguised, was sprinkled throughout and was necessary to lighten the tone of a book that could have been brimming with heartache. The brilliant dialogue is what shines the most in this novel. There seemed to be an abundance of coincidences, and I often had to set my incredulity aside and just enjoy the ride.

Whether or not you can identify with Cyril’s struggles of sexuality, you undoubtedly will be able to relate to a desire to be loved, to love freely without prejudice, and to simply belong. Like me, you will probably run through the entire gamut of emotions while reading this – from anger to shock to sorrow and to joy. This is my third John Boyne book and he has not yet failed to impress me with his wonderful writing and captivating tales.
Profile Image for Jaline.
444 reviews1,647 followers
March 11, 2018
I learned a lot about Ireland – and the Irish – while reading this book. I learned that the priests are all perverts and sadistic controllers; their parishioners do their best to follow the example of the priests; the people are ignorant (and thus use myriad swear words instead of using real words); the men are either homosexual or they want to be, and if they aren’t either of those, they are still completely obsessed with sex with as many partners as possible, as are the other men. In fact, I learned that most Irish, male or female, gay or straight, are actually obsessed with sex in one way or another. Maybe this is also why the governments are completely corrupt and filled with people who would rather watch TV and fight with each other than figure out how to run the country – or so I learned.

This novel has a lot of humour in it – dialogue and narrative that is truly funny and engaging. This is particularly true in the first part of the book. However, somewhere along the line a strong undercurrent of anger colours the humour with dark paint. As Cyril’s life changes through his boyhood into his twenties, then his thirties, he still hasn’t figured out that maybe life’s challenges are actually there to teach him something; that maybe self-pity and nurturing feelings of being misunderstood are not a healthy way for anyone to make something productive of their life.

Even life-changing and positive relationships don’t seem to work for our Cyril. He manages to mess up anyway. When the most precious relationship of his life is destroyed, he moves along like an automaton in his enclosure of self-protection – still unwilling to accept that life has laid out lessons for him that cannot be escaped. Luckily, there are some people in his life who will not allow him to avoid himself forever and who were willing to help him help himself gain perspective and make some progress.

It is hard to tell what goes on in those “gap times” in his life (the book is written in seven-year intervals through his life span), but he does seem to start pulling himself together into an understanding that he is a being who is human and that maybe he’s not the only person in the world (or even Ireland) who has been challenged with hard choices and decisions to make in their lives.

Curiously, while the majority of the men in this book are weak in common sense, weak-willed, subject to bodily functions and fierce tempers alternating with ferocious indifference, the women are the opposite. They are mostly strong characters, intelligent, witty, and capable. I loved that the women are depicted this way. More evolution of all characters would have been even more welcome.

I did enjoy this book – I like the way it was laid out and the story has its brilliant moments as the writing is excellent. The rumbling undercurrents of anger alternating with abject self-pity did put me off, but maybe that was intended. If so, this book succeeded on all levels.
Profile Image for Lindsay L.
677 reviews1,320 followers
March 21, 2018
5 stars!

I am having a hard time finding the proper way to describe my love for this book. Cyril is one of the most amazing and unforgettable characters I have ever ‘met’!

I felt an immediate connection to this novel – from page 1, I was fully invested in Cyril’s life. I felt so many emotions throughout the pages of this captivating book – happiness, anxiety, sorrow, sadness, anger, disappointment, excitement……and the list goes on. Cyril’s narration was done brilliantly!

This is my first book by this author, John Boyne, and I am now a huge fan! Can’t wait to read his other work!

This was a Traveling Sister Read with the lovely Brenda and Susanne and their company along the way made this journey even more enjoyable! To find this review, along with their Traveling Sister reviews, please visit Brenda and Norma's fabulous blog at:

Profile Image for Mischenko.
1,021 reviews97 followers
October 24, 2017
See this review @ https://readrantrockandroll.com/2017/...

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.

Profile Image for Virginia Ronan ♥ Herondale ♥.
546 reviews34.7k followers
April 1, 2020
”The desire to fall in love and to share one’s life with someone is neither a homosexual nor a heterosexual conceit. It’s human. We’re all suckers for a pretty face or a kind heart. What else can we do but keep hoping that the right person will show up?” - John Boyne

I usually don’t start my reviews with a quote from the author her/himself but I think this one is very important and needs to be read. In my opinion it’s the message John Boyne wanted to convey when he wrote “The Heart’s Invisible Furies” and looking at it in retrospective I could feel it in every single sentence he wrote.

There were the ups and downs of life, everything that happens in between and the “what ifs” that involuntarily come our way and have a tendency to haunt us for the rest of our lives. In the end however the only thing that truly matters is whether we can live with them or not. Whether we can accept our mistakes and grave decisions and if we’re ready to embrace them with all the troubles they entailed.

Of course there’s a fine line between authenticity and exaggeration but Boyne made sure never to cross it. He balanced along it for the duration of the entire book and no matter how absurd some situations seemed to be, no matter how extreme some people’s opinion were, they were never far-fetched. There DO exist Mary-Margarets, Julians and Charles all over this world and it’s realistic to assume that they might eventually cross your way. ;-)

In short: This book was amazing!
It was:

Particularly sad,
Hilariously vivid,
Achingly beautiful,
And ridiculously charming.

I loved every minute of it and the characters really grew on me, which is the reason why my characters section is going to be super long again. *lol* As always I need to add my two cents though so #SorryNotSorry. ;-P

The Characters:

Welcome to my characters section! If you already read the book or don’t want to read it but want to know more about the characters, proceed. If you don’t want to be spoiled and still want to read the book, I’d recommend clicking that nice exit button though. It’s your choice, choose wisely. XD


”I’m not sure what it was about my appearance that made me seem like a pubescent rapist but for some peculiar reason I took this as a compliment.”

Aww Cyril was such a precious bean. *lol* I think he was what you’d call an old soul in a young body and it made me sad to read how ashamed and lonely he felt. I could relate to his struggle and why he was afraid to come out, because let’s face it Ireland at that time was not the kind of country you would have wanted to announce that you’re gay. If anyone of the police found you with another man you could go to jail for it and it’s no surprise that Cyril tried to keep it a secret from his family and friends. The problem with secrets is that sooner or later they gnaw on you and eat you alive and this is exactly what happened with Cyril. There was a point he couldn’t pretend anymore and he did what he had to do and ran away. Was it wrong? Yes. Did he have to do it? Yes, because back then he actually had no other choice. If the constitution of an entire land is against you, to leave seems to be the only possible decision, right?

”I had never considered myself to be a dishonest person, hating the idea that I was capable of such mendacity and deceit, but the more I examined the architecture of my life, the more I realized how fraudulent were its foundations. The belief that I would spend the rest of my time on earth lying to people weighted heavily on me and at such times I gave serious consideration to taking my own life.”


”I intend to live a long and healthy life and fuck as many girls as I can. I’d like to die in my bed, aged one hundred and five, with a twenty-two year old bouncing up and down on top of me.”

Ahhh dear Julian… this character made me so sad. I mean he was one of those guys you can’t help but like, he was sassy and knew how to work a crowd, but no matter his big mouth, when it came to the important things he seemed to fail miserably. I mean on the one hand he had countless love affairs and basically made it a hobby to have sex with every woman he found attractive but on the other hand he judged Cyril for being gay and sleeping with many different men. Even more so, he had no problem to accept that Jasper Timson, one of his old classmates, was gay and in love with him, but after all those years he was Cyril’s best friend he was disgusted when he finally told him that he’s gay. Talk about being hypocritical…. And then the way it all ended for him… T_T

”He was arrogant, certainly, and had no respect for authority but he made his pronouncements with such insouciance that I found it impossible not to be charmed by him.”

Mrs. Goggin:

”I remember a friend of mine once telling me that we hate what we fear in ourselves,” she said with a shrug. “Perhaps that has something to do with it.”

I loved her character and she was exactly the kind of woman I always want to find in a book. She was strong and stood by her opinion and even though life handed her some tough cards she never even thought about giving up. Catherine made the best of her life and I loved to see her so happy at the end of the book! Plus, I lived and breathed for those short moments when Cyril’s and her path crossed. They were always very polite and honest with each other and I think she was more of a mother to him than Maude ever was, even when they both had no clue that they were actually mother and son. <3

”My boyfriends, if I had any, would surely have more sense than to let underage boys wander the corridors unsupervised,” she said, refusing to be intimidated by him. “And I won’t be poked and prodded by priests, do you hear me? Those days are long behind me. So take care not to touch me again.” Mrs. Goggin vs. Father Squires

”You’re a bit of an oddball, Jonathan,” I said. “Has anyone ever told you that?”
“Nineteen people this year alone,” he said. “And it’s only May.”


”The vulgarity of it all,” she said. “Popularity. Readers. I can’t bear it. I knew Charles would destroy my career in the end.”

Haha! Well, Maude certainly was an oddball for sure. *lol* An author who doesn’t want to be popular and writes her books just for herself is definitely unusual, but I guess to some degree I could even understand her. There’s something special about creating a story and the enjoyment you get from writing can be really amazing. It’s just sad that she never was the kind of mother Cyril would have needed but I suppose neither Charles nor Maude were prepared to deal with a little child. They were too used to their own routine and too egoistic to have a child. It’s true they provided him with a roof over his head and with food, which is probably more than some other parents can give, yet they never provided him with love and I think that’s one of the main reasons why it took Cyril so long to accept, let alone to love himself.


”It just doesn’t make sense to manacle yourself sexually to the same person for fifty or sixty years when your relationship with that person can be so much happier if you give each other the freedom to enter and be entered by people of the opposite sex whom you find attractive. A marriage should be about friendship and companionship, not about sex.”

Dear Charles had quite some modern views and I think deep down inside of him he was actually an okay kind of guy. *lol* Still, I really disliked that he always told Cyril that he’s not a real Avery. Even when he had to go to jail for the very first time, he made it pretty clear that Cyril was only his adoptive child and not his "real" child and this distinction never sat well with me. I mean Cyril was their son in every sense of the word and even though his parents treated him like a stranger, he still loved them the way only a child can do. I was so sad when Charles died, but somehow it also made me happy that he acknowledged Cyril at the end. He had to hear those words and I’m glad Charles eventually said them. =)

”Oh good. Because you’re not a real Avery, don’t forget.”
“Yes, I knew that too,” I said smiling.
“But I’m glad we adopted you,” he added. “You’re a good boy. A kind boy. You always were.”

The relationships:

Cyril & Julian:

”When we see each other at family functions, I’ll be polite to you so no one finds out the truth. But don’t ever think that I feel anything towards you other than total and utter loathing. And if you dropped dead on your honeymoon, I’d cry no tears over you.”

Their story broke my heart into thousand little pieces! I was devastated when Cyril confessed his love to Julian!! Julian’s reaction was so bad; it was every nightmare come true, every doubt and every second of guilt centred on that one single moment. It was a hit right in the stomach and it hurt so, so much. T_T I mean there was a reason why Cyril never told him and instead of proving him wrong, Julian reacted exactly how Cyril expected him to. This is our biggest fear, to show our true self and to be rejected for it. For poor Cyril this nightmare became reality. I mean I understand Julian’s POV too, it was horrible that his best friend was about to ditch his sister right in front of the altar but damn if he just would have stopped for a little moment and thought things through. To force Cyril to marry Alice was the worst thing he could have done and he did it without hesitation. And then… after all those years, after everything that happened Julian saw him once again. In a hospital bed, having AIDS. Gosh, this was so damn sad. I mean after all the girls Julian was with this didn’t really come as a surprise… but still. It was heart-breaking nevertheless. They got a last chance to talk and to make their peace with each other and even though it made me cry like a little girl that moment was so important and necessary and … T_T I can’t even. I’m crying just thinking about it. When Cyril held Julian and told him to let go… *sobs uncontrollably* Despite all their differences, despite all the bad blood and anger between them, they were friends in the end and Julian died in the arms of Cyril. T_T

”And we’re enemies now, are we?” I asked.
“We’re not friends, that’s for sure.”
“We used to be.”

How many times throughout my youth had I dreamed of such a moment and now all I could do was bury my face in his back and weep.
“Cyril…” whispered Julian.
“Just let go,” I whispered back.

Alice & Cyril:

”It’s not the name that’s gay, you know.”
“No, they think Cyril is you and that we’ve got back together.
“Would you like that, Alice?”
“I’d rather bore a hole to the centre of the earth with my tongue. Why, would you?”
“Very much. I miss your body.”
“Oh, shut up.”

I loved those two! *lol* I mean I could understand why Alice gave Cyril a hard time after he left her at their wedding reception, but the nice thing was that she eventually came around and became his best friend in the end. I guess to have a son together might have helped as well but I always liked Alice and unlike her brother she was a very compassionate and sympathetic person. I think it was due to those attributes that she and Cyril got along way better after they had a talk and even though she made a lot of fun about him not coming to certain events they both took it with humour and were able to laugh about it in the end. =) So yes, their relationship filled me with hope and joy and I was very glad that Cyril managed to make amends with Alice.


“The Heart’s Invisible Furies” was a wonderful book. It forced me to feel the entire bandwidth of human emotions and at times it was so hilarious that I couldn’t help but laugh out loud. The characters were unique and realistic and the irony of certain situations was spot on. It was as much a tale about Cyril’s life as it was a story about Irish history and if you like interwoven and intricate stories I’m sure you’ll love this one! ;-)


Look at me as I rock not only my TBR but also "My Book List 2019"!
The best thing: I borrowed this book from the library too so it’s like killing three birds with one stone.

Jeez! There is actually a system and pattern behind my reading now! O_o

Who am I even and what happened to that disorganized mood reader I was? *lol*

Anyway, here are my three good reasons to read this book:
1.) It plays in Ireland and my irish faerie heart is so ready for it! 😍
2.) It's gay! Do I have to say more? XD
3.) Apparently this is some sort of family saga and I'm always down for a little bit of drama and all the feels.

I'm almost certain I will love this book! 😊
Profile Image for Phrynne.
3,321 reviews2,142 followers
May 7, 2021
582 pages of pure, unalloyed reading pleasure. This is my second book by this author and I have not got a single word of criticism to make about his writing.

The Heart's Invisible Furies tells the tale of Cyril Avery's life, right from his mother's unfortunate pregnancy to his eventual death. Cyril is a wonderful character who makes some shocking mistakes along the way but does good things too. I loved his sense of humour most of all, especially in the face of the ignorance and stupidity he had to put up with.

All of the characters in the book are well developed and interesting. Maude is just delightful if very weird, and I loved the teasing relationship between Cyril and Alice towards the end. I found I did not actually like Julian very much and wondered if I was really supposed to. Without him Cyril's life would have been very different.

I think Boyne has a talent for writing amazing and slightly unexpected endings. In The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas he delivered one of the saddest I have ever read. In The Heart's Invisible Furies the final pages were unusual, happy, sad, emotional, and ultimately perfect.

Altogether one of my favourite reading experiences this year.
Profile Image for Debbie.
454 reviews2,886 followers
December 6, 2017
5 meaty stars!

It has to be good if I give 5 stars to a 600-pager! (She with the ADD who likes her books to be under 400 pages….) Seriously, big books annoy me because so often they have fillers. Reading a big book can be like eating a massive plate of noodles, when you really just want to get to the luscious meatball nuggets buried somewhere in there (vegetarians, please imagine tofu nuggets; I must make this analogy relatable!). In a big book, you often get a plate full of philosophical or religious or mythical noodles. Or you get so many details of leaves in the sunlight, or in the shadows, or in the rain, you never want to look out the window again. All heavy images—I get it, I get it, but please get on with the story! I like a book that hops right along, with great characters hopping right along with it. Short books offer me a better chance at that; there is no room for noodles. (I must be hungry, because right now plain old noodles sound pretty good….).

In this story, yum yum, there are only the precious nuggets, no noodles to wade through. These 600 pages WHIZZED right by. It’s magical reading when I don’t ever wonder what page I’ve made it to.

Okay, so there were no unnecessary side trips, but I stumbled over one thing that sort of drove me nuts—and it did slow me down. It often made me put on the brakes for a sec instead of cruise. The main character was named Cyril. You know how you pronounce a name in your head as you read? (Well, at least I do.) I’ve always pronounced Cyril as Cy-rill (Cy as in cry), with emphasis on the first syllable, Cy. So I’m hearing Cy-rill and everything is just fine, when lo and behold, the book says that Cyril rhymes with squirrel! Oh no, it’s retrain-the-brain time! Which is really really hard. So for at least half of the book, I’d find myself shouting out in my head, “Squirrel Cyril. Squirrel Cyril!” Damn, it slowed me down to go through this little pronunciation lesson all the time. Toward the end, I had stopped stumbling, had stopped mumbling squirrel every time I saw his name. All the sudden, Cyril rhymed with squirrel in my head automatically. Hot dog!

Noodles and squirrels—really? I must move on! This is an epic story about a gay guy, Cyril (ha, rhymes with squirrel, in case you didn’t know) who grows up in Dublin at a time when the attitude toward gays is brutal. Cyril is adopted by a wealthy, eccentric couple who barely acknowledge his presence. There are tragedies and love as he moves through life. The story spans decades and continents and has lots of drama (and some wit). I just loved it!

Joy Jar

Man, it’s overflowing. It’s okay if it tips over, right? There are so many wonderful things about this book!

-Epic, sweeping, and all that those words encompass. Like substantial and hefty. The book spans a lifetime. It feels like you’re sharing this long, fascinating journey of this troubled man who is searching for acceptance and love. The story is just so big and rich, one where you sigh at the end, so satisfied with what you’ve just experienced and so sorry that it’s over.

-Sophisticated language. Yet oh so accessible. (I know, I sound like a marketer!)

-Witty dialogue. Somehow, in a story that has so much pathos in it, the author injects a lot of humor. This is especially true in the first half. One minor character in particular is very funny without trying to be (which makes it even funnier). The dialogue is smart, realistic, and snappy—the best combo ever.

-Fleshed-out characters plus psychological insight. Cyril is so well-drawn, it’s not even funny. The other characters are vivid as well. And none of them are one-dimensional or clichéd. There’s psychological insight bigtime; you really feel like you get what makes Cyril tick.

-High drama. There’s action out the kazoo. The drama never stops, yet (mostly) it does not seem over the top. Love, death, longing, deceit, secrets, violence, sex—all the biggies come into play here.

-Oh, and is it ever tense! What will Cyril do? The pivotal scene, where he makes an agonizing, major life choice, had me sitting on the edge of my seat.

-A fast-moving, fascinating plot. Never a dull moment. Really. Which is quite a feat in a book this long.

-I was surprised a lot. I never knew where the story was going. I love it when that happens.

-I got to travel to various continents. There were three locales, all fleshed out, and the life in each one was rich.

-The foreshadowing is great. There are lines like this one: “…and in that moment I made the biggest mistake of my life.” I love it when I’m set up like that. Of course I’m dying to find out what he means. Instantly and completely. I’m panting.

-It made me feel. I felt sad, happy, pissed, tickled, devastated, shocked. Only a great book can make me feel this range of emotion.

-It let me peek into a life that I know nothing about. A gay guy in Dublin in the mid-1900s? Not something I knew anything about. Treatment of gays was brutal and that was a central theme. But I never felt like the book was lecture-y or message-y.

-It’s a story I won’t forget. I’m sure of this.

-I want to see this story on the big screen (or on Netflix!). But I haven’t yet assigned actors to the roles, lol.

Now I may as well get this over with—there are a few complaints. None of them kept me from giving this book 5 stars though.

Complaint Board

-Coincidence city. There were three big coincidences, and they DID bother me. They enriched the plot, but I twitched because they were far-fetched. But when you love a book, you’ll overlook anything.

-A 7-year-old would not talk about blood pressure! I swear to god that happened! I know the kids in the book are precocious, but that does not mean their sentence structure and subject matter would sound like they belong to a 40-year-old! Luckily, there aren’t many scenes with young kids, so the disbelief and discomfort of wrong dialogue wasn’t prolonged. I think if Boyne had kids, he would have known better.

-One secret is obvious. Can’t explain it (don’t want a spoiler), but I will say it involves a woman named Alice. This secret happened in another book I read this year (and I guessed it there as well), so it’s getting old.

-Ghost cameos at the end. There were a few ghosties at the end, but their appearances were fast and painless (and minor to the story), so I accepted them without screaming.

Very strange, but this book starts exactly like one of my very favorite books this year, Lilli de Jong. Both books start with a pregnant, unwed woman being run out of town by her religious family and community. What are the chances that I would read two books that start that way? Now that’s a coincidence I can live with.

Ha, you see by my overstuffed Joy Jar that this was an incredible read. Boyne is a master storyteller; I must check out his earlier books. I just can't get this story out of my head; I can tell it’s going to live there for a long while.
Profile Image for Kimber Silver.
Author 1 book265 followers
February 9, 2023
Almost every human being yearns to love and be loved. Often this is given first by our family, and when it isn’t, the soul searches for affection in other places. This is the hardest road.

And so it begins. Ireland, 1945, sixteen-year-old Catherine Groggin sits in church waiting for her ‘turn.’ The dread of what might be coming builds from the first sentence until the priest drags her up and shames her in front of the entire parish, mentally and physically abusing her while everyone looks on. He then banishes her; she is, after all, pregnant and unmarried. I was horrified that an entire building full of people, including her whole family, would sit by and watch this happen. But back then the Catholic religion ruled with an iron fist, and people came to heel.

Thankfully, plucky Catherine won’t let her flame be doused; pulling herself up by her bootstraps she heads for Dublin and a new life. Unable to take care of her newborn son alone, he is placed for adoption. The book weaves its way through Dublin, Amsterdam, and NYC, and is essentially the life story of Cyril Avery as told in the first person. Adopted by Charles and Maude Avery, little Cyril is treated more like a piece of furniture than their child. He aches to feel close to someone, anyone, and realizes from the age of seven that his attraction to other boys is strong. Of course, religion and 1940s society insist that it is wrong for him to feel this way. In fact, a high percentage of the populace classify being gay as a heinous crime. Trying to deny who he is and fit within societal norms becomes a complete disaster. He longs to tell someone his secret, it’s pent up inside him like a beast, but each time he tries, some horrific occurrence surrounding the confession forces him back inside his shell. His self-destructive behavior impacts on everyone around him. The sneaking, lying and pretending that becomes his existence eventually crescendos into an event so epic that it forces him to flee Ireland for Amsterdam - and this proves to be the turning point for our friend. However, even while standing in exquisite sunshine, darkness is only ever a heartbeat away.

A perfect bite of laughter, intrigue and darkness The Heart’s Invisible Furies kept me reading like a mad person. The cast of rich, deep characters is enchanting as I felt each of them and their struggles. The writing is beautiful without being overdone, holding that perfect balance. I savored every scrumptious word from the first to the last, leaving me fulfilled. John Boyne is a superb storyteller and boy did he have a tale to tell! There are difficult themes surrounding homophobia and the treatment of gay people; ultimately this is a novel about the relationships experienced throughout one person’s lifetime.

I recommend this as being too amazing to ignore. One of my favorite reads of 2018!
Profile Image for Susanne.
1,168 reviews37.3k followers
March 11, 2018
5 Absolutely Brilliant Amazing Stars.

Unforgettable, Heartbreaking and Humorous. In “The Heart’s Invisible Furies,” John Boyne takes us on the journey of Cyril Avery’s life. His loves and losses, his heartbreaks and his triumphs. He makes you laugh out loud hysterically and cry just as often. John Boyne makes you fall in love with every single character in this brilliant novel. Cyril, his best friend Julian Woodbead, Julian’s sister Alice, Bastiaan and Ignaac. After finishing it, my heart was full. “The Heart’s Invisible Furies” definitely tops one of my favorite books ever list. I hope it finds its way on yours as well.

In the 1940’s, Cyril Avery’s birth mother, Catherine Goggin, was cast out of the Catholic Church for being an unwed mother. Cyril was then adopted by Charles and Maude Avery. They have never considered him to be a “real” Avery. Then, at the age of seven, Cyril undergoes a defining moment. He meets Julian Woodbead and they do what all little boys do, expose themselves to each other. In that exact moment, Cyril knows. He likes boys. He also knows that in Ireland, in that day and age, it is not acceptable, thus Cyril keeps it a secret and so it begins. A life of keeping secrets.

Heart’s is brilliant, clever, heartfelt, humorous and sad. Moments of laughing out loud WICKEDLY and SOBBING hysterically. This novel progresses every seven years up until 2015, throughout Cyril’s life as a gay man. He is responsible for heartache and pain and equally experiences bigotry, racism, love and hate. No one gets out unscathed. John Boyne brilliantly ties characters and storylines together in a way that stunned me. I loved this novel like no other. All I can say is that I hope you will too. Read it. Read it now. You will NOT regret it.

I shared this reading experience with Brenda and Lindsay. Reading this together was incredible. Lindsay and I loved Cyril like no other character. I’m so glad I read this with my sisters! Thank you ladies. Love you both.

Published on Goodreads, Amazon, Twitter and Instagram on 3.11.18.
Profile Image for Cheri.
1,795 reviews2,389 followers
April 12, 2023

The Catholic Church has not been known for embracing homosexuality, or sexuality except as it relates to bearing children to those happily wed with the blessing of the Church. It is in 1945, this era in Ireland, where sixteen year-old Catherine is exiled from her church by their priest, the same priest, who it will later be discovered had fathered two children by two women. One in Drimoloeague, one in Clonakilty. The same Father James Monroe denounces Catherine as a whore and bans her from returning to this town with the congregation looking on as he drags her past the graveyard, giving her an hour to be gone. Forever.

Buying a one-way ticket, she boards the bus to Dublin with plans for no further than getting through this day. A young man named Seán gets on the bus at a later stop and eventually starts up a conversation with Catherine, and when they arrive in Dublin, it is to Seán’s friend Jack’s place they go, where Catherine will end up staying. She will eventually find work in the Dáil Éireann tearoom.

Told in seven-year increments, in 1952 we are introduced to young Cyril Avery, the adopted son of Roger and Maud Avery. Cyril is but a lad of seven years, and is taught to stress to others that he is the adopted son of Roger and Maud. This is the year that young Cyril will meet Julian, who will become his friend, his roommate, and the first boy that Cyril loves. Both Julian’s parents and Cyril’s adoptive parents are fairly well off. Cyril’s adopted mother is an author of some fame, not that she seeks fame, she can’t abide the thought of it.

Through Cyril we follow the changes that have since taken place in regard to sexuality, in Ireland and to some extent in the world. Ireland transforms over the years, becomes less of a theocracy, more tolerant, more attuned to civil rights, in a sense, Ireland's own "coming-of-age" tale. We follow Cyril from Dublin to Amsterdam, to New York, and eventually back to Ireland again, covering more than the struggle for gay rights; this also touches on the topic of sexual slavery, and more.

This story is the coming-of-age account of one boy-to-man, struggling with who he is and where or even if he belongs anywhere in this world, the shame he carries with him, the fear of being “found out,” the desire to find a place where he is accepted, most can relate to the feeling of wanting to feel safe and accepted. The people he meets through his life by chance, these wonderful characters help shape him, help him find a way to deal with his feelings of loss, and help lead him to an emotional place of peace.

All these struggles, and yet Boyne manages to include moments of humour, moments of lightness, moments of fun. There are tragic, devastating moments, and anger, balanced by some lovely, inspiring moments. Those commonplace moments of life, as well. Most of all, there’s love, finding love, falling in love, and living in love.

I was completely immersed in these words of Boyne. I laughed, I cried, and I was reminded that sometimes salvation may be found within, but even that requires a journey.

Highly Recommended

Pub Date: 22 Aug 2017

Many thanks for the ARC provided by Crown Publishing / Hogarth
Profile Image for Christine.
596 reviews1,183 followers
January 7, 2019
Oh my, is it all downhill from here?? This is my first novel of the year, and I’m afraid it may well be my top read of 2019! Yes, it is that special.
This is my first experience with John Boyne, and I am so pleased that he has written ten other books for me to explore.

How can this novel be summed up in a nutshell? Well, it is just not possible. Which is a good thing. Read the blurb, then settle in for a treat. This is Cyril’s story—from the age of 7 to 70. It is also, in a lesser way, Ireland’s story.

Cyril Avery is adopted as a newborn; thus, as his adoptive father says, he is not a real Avery. We follow Cyril’s life through vignettes and conversations set at seven-year intervals from 1945 through 2015. I loved this saga-ish format. We journey with him as he deals with his peculiar adoptive parents, sexuality, unrequited love, indecision, shame, tragedy, identity, a sense of home; and yes, love and redemption. Along the way we meet a bevy of wonderful and not so wonderful supporting players, my favorite being Catherine Goggin with whom it all started.

This book is a tome of almost 600 pages. But I didn’t notice that so much because of Mr. Boyne’s writing style. He does not waste a lot of words on lengthy descriptions, and other than one or two scenes that run a bit long the story flows beautifully. The dialogue is masterful, so incredibly realistic. The author’s sense of humor comes through just at the right times, evoking laugh-out-loud moments at regular intervals. As noted above there are ten sections covering seven years each. At the very end there is the perfect epilogue. Be ready with tissues.

What a way to begin 2019. This story is truly an unforgettable epic--powerful, profound and oh so poignant. I feel I will have Cyril Avery in my head for many years to come. This one deserves my very highest recommendation. Don’t miss out.
September 21, 2022
When I finish reading a book of this quality, I have an uncontrollable urge to write my thoughts in a review at that very moment, so I don't forget any details. With The Heart's Invisible Furies, there has been no fear of me forgetting of how that book made me feel, and, if anything, after reading it, I feel like a changed woman.

I bought this book a couple of years ago in WHSmiths somewhere near Ellesmere, along with another few books. I brought it home, put it in one of my overflowing bookcases, and I've never really given it a thought since.

Until now.

The sheer intensity and rawness of this book is almost unreal. I am struggling to describe exactly how it made me feel, despite still feeling the effects from it a day later. I have only read one other John Boyne book, that being, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, and although I enjoyed it, this particular book feels like it is in a totally different league.

This book has a larger page count than is typically usual for the average book, but once I started reading it, I found the time was flying by, and I became incredibly anxious and somewhat trembly when I realised there were only another one hundred pages left.

The narrator is Cyril Avery, who was born to a sixteen year old, unmarried Mother in Ireland. She then is cast out of the family home by her family and the Catholic Church, indefinitely. Cyril is then adopted by Charles and Maude Avery, a rather odd couple, that don't show Cyril "real love" and constantly remind him that he is not a "real Avery". When Cyril is seven, he has a chance encounter with Julian Woodbead, who is the son of Charles' attorney. This encounter leads to a solid infatuation, which more or less shapes his future.

As we follow Cyril Avery through each heartache and sometimes humorous situations in his life, we can also feel a certain amount of bitterness towards Ireland and the Catholic Church, and I personally felt that occurred throughout the novel.

I felt I resonated with Cyril Avery, and the constant battle he seemed to have with many aspects of his life. I was adopted, but I was adopted by people who are not afraid to show affection towards me, and who certainly don't ask me to call them by their first names. Cyril lacked the feel of real love from a Mother so early on in life, and that made my heart ache.

The characters involved in this masterpiece absolutely blew me away, and I don't say that very often. I felt as if I knew these people, and while the violence, the somewhat missed opportunities and death were happening, there was also laughter, love and a great hope, that John Boyne ensured could never be diminished.

"I glanced down at the crotch of my pants. There had been no movement whatsoever. If anything, there had been what only could be called A Great Shrivelling."

I think this book hit me so hard because the events described in this book, actually went on in Ireland. It was illegal in Ireland to be gay and you were classed as a "fallen woman" having a child out of wedlock, and the Catholic Church really was as corrupt as they say. Obviously, times have changed, but one must remember the suffering and fighting of the one's before us, and what they had to do to get us here. We must never take it for granted.

I know it's a cliché stating a book is "unputdownable", but in the case of this book, it really, really was. I think the only time I put it down was when I couldn't see for tears, and I had to distract myself by doing some laundry. Even then, I struggled to get Cyril Avery off of my mind.

This world pandemic has been causing me much anxiety, but I found much comfort in this outstanding book and it came along at exactly the right time. Even though one could say that these current times are terribly uncertain, but I know one of thing that is undoubtedly certain right now; I fucking love Cyril Avery.
Profile Image for Andrew Smith.
1,080 reviews621 followers
October 1, 2022
The opening scene is a cracker. We’re witness to the harsh treatment meted out to a sixteen-year-old girl who has become pregnant in 1940’s Ireland. It’s a shocking scene, a truly shocking scene. Young Catherine Goggin is attending mass at her local church when the priest draws the congregation’s attention to her situation. Having fully and publicly castigated her for the sin of becoming pregnant out of wedlock the priest then marches her out of the church making it clear that she is to leave the parish immediately, never to return. Yes, it seems that in this place and at this time the priests were the local ‘enforcers’ of the moral code concerning such matters.

We follow Catherine as she travels to Dublin (she found her case already packed for her outside her parents house) and there we start to get a broader sense of what it was like to live in Catholic Ireland at that time. In fact there is worse to come, when Catherine befriends a couple of lads who are dealing with some issues of their own. But having opened the reader’s eyes to the strictures of the time the book then developed a lighter tone… at least for a while. I listened to this tale on audio, superbly read by actor Stephen Hogan, and I really can’t stress enough how well he portrayed the various characters; his comic timing, too, was just spot on. As we moved into the 1950’s we meet Catherine’s son, Cyril, who had been adopted soon after birth by a wealthy Dublin couple. It was made clear to Cyril, by his adoptive father (a brilliant larger than life character), that though he wasn't a real member of the family a tenancy until the age of eighteen was certainly on the table.

Cyril starts to realise that he is attracted to boys, not girls. He’d met a boy – son of his father’s lawyer – who had completely mesmerized him. It is, however, to be some time before he fully understands the implications of such attractions. Eventually, he is forced to make far-reaching choices regarding how (and where) he is to lead his life. Angst, desire, frustration, repression and guilt are writ large here, but the counterpoint to this continues to be the regular injection of humour. It’s a story to make you cry but it’s also a story to make you laugh - Boyne is adept at tapping into the humour of any predicament or situation. And though the mood changes often, to me these changes never felt clumsy or out of place.

By the end of the book I was having that feeling you get when you come across one of the really good ones – I didn’t want it to end and yet I was desperate to see how it all played out. As it transpired, it played out very well indeed and not quite in the way I was expecting.

This is more than a very good book, in my view it’s a great book. It’s also possibly the best audiobook I've ever listened too – this in part being down to the outstanding performance of the reader. For all lovers of character driven fiction, if you haven't already worn out your copy of this one then I'd strongly recommend you track one down and give it a go.
Profile Image for Ann Marie (Lit·Wit·Wine·Dine).
189 reviews229 followers
January 24, 2018
I knew I had to read The Heart’s Invisible Furies when I saw it on so many “Best of 2017” lists. The endorsement of several of my favorite bloggers who often have tastes similar to my was enough to convince me to insert this 582 page book smack into the middle of my already jam-packed reading schedule. A few of those include Renee at It's Book Talk , Sarah at Sarah's Book Shelves , and Susie at Novel Visits. I’m happy say I do not regret for one moment the fews days following that I felt compelled to read and review an entire book in the same day just to stay on schedule. This book proved to be one of the best, if not THE best that I’ve ever read.

In addition to the above, there are many reviews out there so I’m going to focus mostly on my experience with the book and what I felt were the highlights. I agree with the sentiments of so many others in repeating that the story was rich, unique, beautifully written and full of well-drawn characters to love (or not). Even in the lightest moments in this book, there was a heaviness in my heart that may have dissipated but never completely went away.

The Heart’s Invisible Furies if full of heartbreak, longing, and even humor – one of the most emotive books I’ve ever read. From the very beginning, where Cyril’s unwed, teenage mother is cast out of her church and her home, I was so drawn in that I never wanted to put this book down. It was a page-turner for sure, but not for the reasons one would normally think. Rather than flipping through at the edge of my seat because I couldn’t wait to see what happens next, I found myself simply unable to leave Cyril. I felt very connected to his character. I needed to see him through.

This book takes a hard look at many social issues from what is, at best the intolerance of and at worst, the abuse of power of the Catholic Church in Ireland to the HIV/AIDS crisis in 1980’s New York City. The unbelievable difficulty/impossibility of living openly as a gay man in Ireland in times considered “modern” where one of the things I found most heartbreaking.

The Heart’s Invisible Furies could also be primer on how to write all manner of highly nuanced family dynamics. There are too many examples to name but I was most struck by the complete rejection faced by many of the characters due to pretty much anything having to do with sex – if you had it, if you were thinking about having it, if you wanted to have it with the “wrong sort” of person, even if you were abused, you faced immeasurable pain and rejection from the very people you depended on most for love and support. The weight of shame was crushing. I’m gutted to think that in many parts of the world, including here in the U.S., there are still people who are unable to live openly without fear of rejection and violence.

I was amazed at the way John Boyne was able to weave together historically accurate renderings of the times with a series of unlikely events and coincidences in a way that felt absolutely authentic. Not once did I scoff at any of the improbabilities in the story. This, for me, is one of the hallmarks of a true classic.

Prior to having read The Heart’s Invisible Furies, the only book I’d read by John Boyne was The House of Special Purpose which I can also recommend. I’m now keen to read The Boy in the Striped Pajamas. I can’t wait to see what he comes out with next.
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