The Heart’s Invisible Furies | John Boyne

The Heart's Invisible Furies, John Boyne, Doubleday, 2017
Source: Doubleday Book Club

Take a complex and fascinating country, a terribly endearing character and a wonderful writer. Shake, add a huge dollop of history and tragedy for good measure. Drizzle with wit and humour. There you go: The Heart’s Invisible Furies, an enthralling and transcendent novel that will leave you in awe.

It all starts with Cyril Avery, who is not a real Avery. You see, he’s been adopted after his unwed, teenage mother had to give up on him. Growing up in Dublin in a peculiar family, he seems to be at odds with the rest of the world everywhere he goes. Finding yourself is a hard task, especially in a post-WWII Ireland. Especially when the Church and prejudices don’t allow you to get to know who you really are.

In this impressive work, John Boyne gives us a deep insight into Cyril’s life every seven years. So many things can happen in seven years! But the writer has a gift, and we catch up with everything we’ve missed in the blink of an eye, while savouring the discoveries we make at every page.

We get to know Cyril’s friends, family members, lovers, colleagues, problems. We shiver, celebrate and cry with him even though he is far from being the perfect character. He is flawed, makes mistakes, falls down, gets on his feet and starts again. I was constantly on the edge of my seat, waiting for the final blow that would knock him down…

Because you never know what Boyne has in stock for you. He manages to convey deep and strong emotions through accessible, easy-to-read descriptions and incredibly realistic dialogues, full of wit, dark humour, hope and despair at the same time. I was completely immersed in Cyril’s story and simply couldn’t put the book down.

All of the characters’ lives are more or less tightly interwoven, no matter how far they are from each other. Distance is a very important part of the story, both literally and figuratively. The Heart’s Invisible Furies is not only about getting to know who you are and when you can let people enter your life. It is about the sense of self as much as the sense of place. It raises questions about the meaning of home: is home where the heart is? What about your birthplace? What about the city you grew up in?

Beyond the cliché of a cheery, heart-warming Ireland, Boyne introduces us to the darker side of the country and reveals its scars. Just like the protagonist, Ireland has evolved, changed, but one cannot deny its roots, no matter how many different lives you can have in a lifetime.

I cannot wait to discover more of John Boyne’s works, for this one made me happy, desperate and hopeful at the same time. I just cannot recommend it enough.

My rating

An all-time favourite

Further information

About the book

Publisher: Doubleday
Author: John Boyne
Publication year: 2017
Pages: 592
ISBN: 978-1524760786

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