John Boyne is a historical fiction author you’ve probably read but didn’t even realize was so prolific. He really bounded back into the spotlight in 2017 with his runaway hit The Heart’s Invisible Furies, which won a ton of awards and was even Book of the Month Club’s Book of the Year. In honor of that win,and my discovery of him as an author I’d read before but didn’t even realize it, here are all the books he’s written! Where will you start?
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 many years, will struggle to discover an identity, a home, a country, and much more.
Part love story, part historical epic, part tragedy, The House of Special Purpose illuminates an empire at the end of its reign. Eighty-year-old Georgy Jachmenev is haunted by his past—a past of death, suffering, and scandal that will stay with him until the end of his days. Living in England with his beloved wife, Zoya, Georgy prepares to make one final journey back to the Russia he once knew and loved, the Russia that both destroyed and defined him. As Georgy remembers days gone by, we are transported to St. Petersburg, to the Winter Palace of the czar, in the early twentieth century—a time of change, threat, and bloody revolution. As Georgy overturns the most painful stone of all, we uncover the story of the house of special purpose.
Propelled into the priesthood by a family tragedy, Odran Yates is full of hope and ambition. When he arrives at Clonliffe Seminary in the 1970s, it is a time in Ireland when priests are highly respected, and Odran believes that he is pledging his life to “the good.”
Forty years later, Odran’s devotion is caught in revelations that shatter the Irish people’s faith in the Catholic Church. He sees his friends stand trial, colleagues jailed, the lives of young parishioners destroyed, and grows nervous of venturing out in public for fear of disapproving stares and insults. At one point, he is even arrested when he takes the hand of a young boy and leads him out of a department store looking for the boy’s mother.
But when a family event opens wounds from his past, he is forced to confront the demons that have raged within the church, and to recognize his own complicity in their propagation, within both the institution and his own family.
When Pierrot becomes an orphan, he must leave his home in Paris for a new life with his aunt Beatrix, a servant in a wealthy Austrian household. But this is no ordinary time, for it is 1935 and the Second World War is fast approaching; and this is no ordinary house, for this is the Berghof, the home of Adolf Hitler. Pierrot is quickly taken under Hitler’s wing and thrown into an increasingly dangerous new world: a world of terror, secrets, and betrayal from which he may never be able to escape.
Chief Inspector Walter Dew of Scotland Yard did not expect the house to be empty. Nor did he expect to find a body in the cellar. Buried under the flagstones are the remains of Cora Crippen, former music-hall singer and wife of Dr. Hawley Crippen. No one would have thought the quiet, unassuming Dr. Crippen capable of murder, yet the doctor and his mistress have disappeared from London, and now a full-scale hunt for them has begun. Across the Channel in Antwerp, the S.S. Montrose has just set off on its two-week voyage to North America. Slipping in among the first-class passengers is a Mr. John Robinson, accompanied by his teenage son, Edmund. The pair may be hoping for a quiet, private voyage, but in the close confines of a luxury ocean liner, anonymity is rare. And with others aboard looking for romance, or violence, or escape from their past in Europe, it will take more than just luck for the Robinsons to survive the voyage unnoticed.
The day the First World War broke out, Alfie Summerfield’s father promised he wouldn’t go away to fight—but he broke that promise the following day. Four years later, Alfie doesn’t know where his father might be, other than that he’s away on a special, secret mission. Then, while shining shoes at King’s Cross Station, Alfie unexpectedly sees his father’s name on a sheaf of papers belonging to a military doctor. Bewildered and confused, Alfie realizes his father is in a hospital close by—a hospital treating soldiers with shell shock. Alfie isn’t sure what shell shock is, but he is determined to rescue his father from this strange, unnerving place
It is September 1919: twenty-one-year-old Tristan Sadler takes a train from London to Norwich to deliver a package of letters to the sister of Will Bancroft, the man he fought alongside during the Great War. But the letters are not the real reason for Tristan’s visit. He can no longer keep a secret and has finally found the courage to unburden himself of it. As Tristan recounts the horrific details of what to him became a senseless war, he also speaks of his friendship with Will–from their first meeting on the training grounds at Aldershot to their farewell in the trenches of northern France. The intensity of their bond brought Tristan happiness and self-discovery as well as confusion and unbearable pain.
Berlin, 1942: When Bruno returns home from school one day, he discovers that his belongings are being packed in crates. His father has received a promotion and the family must move to a new house far, far away, where there is no one to play with and nothing to do. A tall fence stretches as far as the eye can see and cuts him off from the strange people in the distance. But Bruno longs to be an explorer and decides that there must be more to this desolate new place than meets the eye. While exploring his new environment, he meets another boy whose life and circumstances are very different from his own, and their meeting results in a friendship that has devastating consequences.
At the start of his school holidays, Danny Delaney is looking forward to a trouble-free summer. But when his mother returns home one afternoon, flanked by two policemen, he knows that something terrible has happened. Mrs Delaney has accidentally hit a small boy with her car. The boy is in a coma at the local hospital and nobody knows if he will ever wake up. Consumed by guilt, Danny’s mother closes herself off, while Danny and his father are left to pick up the pieces of their fractured family.
It is 1758 and Matthieu Zela is fleeing Paris after witnessing the murder of his mother and his stepfather’s execution. Matthieu’s life is characterized by one extraordinary fact: before the eighteenth century ends, he discovers that his body has stopped ageing. At the end of the twentieth century and the ripe old age of 256 he is suddenly forced to answer an uncomfortable question: what is the worth of immortality without love?
Fourteen-year-old pickpocket John Jacob Turnstile has just been caught red-handed and is on his way to prison when an offer is put to him—a ship has been refitted over the last few months and is about to set sail with an important mission. The boy who was expected to serve as the captain’s personal valet has been injured and a replacement must be found immediately. Given the choice of prison or a life at sea, John soon finds himself on board, meeting the captain, just as the ship sets sail. The ship is the Bounty, the captain is William Bligh, and their destination is Tahiti. Their journey, however, will become one of the most infamous in naval history.
It is 1936, and London is abuzz with gossip about the affair between Edward VIII and Mrs. Simpson. But the king is not the only member of the aristocracy with a hard decision to make. Owen Montignac, the handsome and charismatic scion of a wealthy family, is anxiously awaiting the reading of his late uncle’s will, for Owen has run up huge gambling debts and casino boss Nicholas Delfy has given him a choice: Find 50,000 pounds by Christmas or find yourself six feet under. So when Owen discovers that he has been cut out of the will in favor of his cousin Stella, he finds that even a royal crisis can provide the means for profit, and for murder.
Eight-year-old Noah’s problems seem easier to deal with if he doesn’t think about them. So he runs away, taking an untrodden path through the forest. Before long, he comes across a shop. But this is no ordinary shop: it’s a toyshop, full of the most amazing toys, and brimming with the most wonderful magic. And here Noah meets a very unusual toymaker. The toymaker has a story to tell, and it’s a story of adventure and wonder and broken promises. He takes Noah on a journey. A journey that will change his life.
William Cody grows up surrounded by his father’s tales of Buffalo Bill, to whom he is distantly related, and his fantasies of the Wild West. Though he escapes his heritage by fleeing abroad and starting a new life for himself, he finds that he is always drawn back to England and to his ancestry. When his father proposes that together they should recreate Buffalo Bill’s stage show, “The Congress of Rough Riders of the World” for a contemporary audience, William refuses to have any part of it. When tragedy strikes, however, it is to his father that he must eventually return.
Barnaby Brocket is an ordinary 8-year-old boy in most ways, but he was born different in one important way: he floats. Unlike everyone else, Barnaby does not obey the law of gravity. His parents, who have a horror of being noticed, want desperately for Barnaby to be normal, but he can’t help who he is. And when the unthinkable happens, Barnaby finds himself on a journey that takes him all over the world. From Brazil to New York, Canada to Ireland, and even to space, the floating boy meets all sorts of different people—and discovers who he really is along the way.
From the moment Eliza rises the following morning, her every step seems dogged by a malign presence that lives within Gaudlin’s walls. Eliza realizes that if she and the children are to survive its violent attentions, she must first uncover the hall’s long-buried secrets and confront the demons of its past.