The Heart's Invisible Furies

By John Boyne,

Book cover of The Heart's Invisible Furies

Book description

'Compelling and satisfying... At times, incredibly funny, at others, heartrending' Sarah Winman, author of When God Was a Rabbit

Forced to flee the scandal brewing in her hometown, Catherine Goggin finds herself pregnant and alone, in search of a new life at just sixteen. She knows she has no choice…

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Why read it?

6 authors picked The Heart's Invisible Furies as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

Good fiction has always flowed prolifically from the mind of John Boyne, and this book is yet another in which he confronts more issues in recent history that Ireland (and everywhere else, for that matter) would rather forget.

I love books that use humour to maximum effect. Boyne does it superbly, carrying his characters (and readers) through misfortunes galore with compulsion,  suspense, and an elevating laugh, serious themes heaped with (slightly guilt-edged) delight. If you don’t read this one, anything by Boyne will make you an instant fan.

This is a peculiar and marvelous book about birth families, adopted families, and “found” families, and how each of these can be equally screwed up.

Starting in Ireland in the 1940s, the story is peppered with sharp, clever dialog and vivid, fully-human characters. I love how the narrator struggles with his own heart for decades, unable to decide what he wants, who he loves, what’s right, what’s wrong, etc.—in other words, all the stuff I haven’t figured out yet myself. 

Coincidence also plays a huge role in this book, basically making an ass of everyone, which I find oddly comforting…

Because it is, for lack of a better word, inspiring. I was inspired as a reader, and as a writer. Author Boyne has given us a book rich in character and event, a beautifully written account of the long life of a man constantly searching to learn who he is. Cyril Avery, the protagonist, is an orphan given up by his teenage mother in a small Irish town, later adopted but never quite certain of his true identity or the identity of his mother. The novel is also a portrait of Ireland over the second half of the twentieth century,…

From Michael's list on making you laugh in a troubled world.

After a long fiction reading drought, I picked up this novel and could not put it down. There is so much depressing literary fiction saturating the market, that I had nearly given up on the genre until I read The Heart’s Invisible Furies. We follow Ireland’s evolution from a theocracy to the first nation to approve marriage equality via popular vote through the eyes of gay Dubliner Cyril Avery. Once I read this opening line, I was hooked: “Long before we discovered that he had fathered two children by two different women, one in Drimoleague and one in Clonakilty,…

From Brian's list on that mix comedy and tragedy.

I listened to this book on Audible and was utterly captivated by the force and humour of the story. It’s written in a bravura style and starts with yet another pregnant teenage girl being denounced – this time by her priest, who strikes and kicks her and expels her from the parish. (We later learn he has fathered two children himself, one in Drimoleague and one in Clonakilty.) But this is a story of survival and for the most part follows the life of her son, Cyril, and how he attempts to find his place in a country that refuses…

This is set in Dublin from the 1940s to the present day. It’s the story of an orphan who struggles with his homosexuality and finding his place in the world. The characters are so beautifully drawn. They are eccentric, colourful, and unforgettable - and it is incredibly moving. I cried in the end, but in a good way. I was just so happy and moved. Do read it – you won’t regret it. It’s one of the most beautiful stories I’ve ever read.

From Santa's list on love at their core.

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