Review: The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne

At the end of last year, there was one book that was getting more rave reviews than any other, and I put off reading it for the better part of a year because it was long, I didn’t know if I would like it, I wasn’t in the mood, any number of reasons really. Once I read The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, another one I’d put off and absolutely LOVED, I had to reach out to my pal Sarah, who had recommended it a million times over and ask: WHAT DO I READ NOW? She suggested something totally different, perhaps, The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne? And here we are.

The Heart’s Invisible Furies starts in 1945, when a sixteen year old girl is brought to the front of her Irish Catholic church by the priest and called a whore. She is sixteen and pregnant and thrown out of the church, town, and family. She takes a bus to Dublin, where her journey begins.

“What you know about women,” replied Maude, “could be written in large font on the back of a postage stamp and there’d still be room for the Lord’s Prayer.”

Fast forward seven years: Cyril Avery is the adopted son of a truly eccentric family, and meets another young boy who will change his life forever. The rest of the book is broken into sections, each moving forward in time another seven years. By the book’s end, we’ve followed Cyril’s entire life as he navigates tragedy, love, and self-discovery. Ending in the year 2015, you’ve read about nearly every moment of Cyril’s life, but it won’t feel like enough; I truly never wanted this book to end. Also, Cyril is such a smart and engaging character to read from! He’s sarcastic and witty from childhood through to the last pages, and even when things were bleak, I found myself laughing at the things that came out of his mouth.

“’You look like a Greek God sent down by the immortal Zeus from Mount Olympus to taunt the rest of us inferior beings with your astonishing beauty,’ I said, which somehow in translation came out as, ‘you look fine, why?’”

Clocking in at just about 600 pages, The Heart’s Invisible Furies never feels slow or like you’re slogging through it. Every character and relationship feels so real that you can’t help but love them. And, even though so much of it is sad, it feels hopeful at the same time, which helped. The writing is some of the best I’ve read this year and possibly ever. For me, the mark of a really great book is one I feel like a part of. I fell into this book head first, and I don’t know what I’m supposed to do now that I’ve finished it.

“The notion that he had a life outside our life, outside our friendship, was deeply hurtful to me.”

If you’ve been putting it off like I have, definitely give it a chance, you won’t regret it!

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9 comments

  1. CO-SIGN.
    Wasn’t it the most beautiful? I’ve loaned this out and recommended it so many times. I loved every page. Have you read anything else by John Boyne? He’s seriously underrated. Nora Webster was beautiful and I LOVED A History of Loneliness (although that one made me seriously angry).

    1. YES, I never wanted it to end, and it took me two weeks after finishing it before I was able to read anything else! I have to check out the two you mentioned! The only book I know of by him is The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, which I’ve actually never read!

        1. AHH I actually ordered it from Book Depository since it’s already out in the UK and they ship worldwide, I cannot even wait for it to get here!