Book cover for John Boyne's The Heart's Invisible FuriesThe Heart's Invisible Furies - John Boyne

If you want to read a quirky, sardonic, always emotionally moving book— they don’t get any better than this.  John Boyne’s novel The Heart’s Invisible Furies is one of the greatest stories I have read.  It is a delightful epic romp through the course of a man’s life.  Cyril Avery, takes you on a literal journey of a lifetime, as his story unfolds in seven year increments, throughout eleven phases of his life.  A sort of coming of age, after realizing he is different, and the often painful repercussions of coming to terms with his sexual attraction to men.  It begins in anti-gay IRA Dublin in 1945 and ends with him as a humble self-assured octogenarian by 2015.

It is easy to read, with smaller encapsulated episodes that are gems in and of themselves, many of them I read over and over because I was so enthralled with the brilliance and wit of Boyne’s writing style. He has crafted some of the most truly rememberable characters who come to life in literature to rival the world’s best known fictional character of Dickens.  This book is a rare blend of excellent story telling along with a finely crafted writing style.

This following excerpt contains one of the funniest and most brilliant sentences— which still amuses me every time I read it.  At this point, Cyril goes in to confess to a priest; he hope his confession will help save his friend in dire need, when much more than he intends suddenly pours fourth:


I took a deep breath. This had been a long time coming but here it was. “I think I’m a bit funny, Father,” I told him. “The other boys in my class are always talking about girls but I never think about girls at all, I just think about boys, and I think about doing all sorts of dirty stuff to them like taking their clothes off and kissing them all over and playing with their things and there’s this one boy and he’s my best friend and he sleeps in the bed next to mine and I can’t stop thinking about him all the time and sometimes when he’s asleep I pull my pajamas down and I have a right go at myself and I create an unholy mess in the bed and even after I do it and think that I might be able to go to sleep I start thinking about other lads and all the things I want to do to them and do you know what a blowjob is, Father, because I started writing stories about the lads I like and particularly about my friend Julian and I started using words like that and—”


Boyne sustains that final sentences through an astonishing 173 words.  The whole book is this brilliant.  At times I laughed so hard with sheer delight; and yet, there were moments I sank to devastated mournful sobs.  You will fall in love with Cyril Avery and he will become a part of you, as he one of the greatest people you will ever get to know.  This is one of those rare books you will fall in love with, a book to be savored, and one I will read over and over.

Link to JOHN BOYNE'S website


There is also an audio book of THE HEART'S INVISIBLE FURIES brilliantly read by Stephen Hogan