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The House of Special Purpose by John Boyne
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The House of Special Purpose (original 2005; edition 2013)

by John Boyne

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3823628,205 (3.96)21
Member:Sparkle64
Title:The House of Special Purpose
Authors:John Boyne
Info:Other Press (2013), Paperback, 480 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
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The House of Special Purpose by John Boyne (2005)

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English (17)  Dutch (11)  Spanish (6)  Catalan (1)  Norwegian (1)  All languages (36)
Showing 1-5 of 17 (next | show all)
I can say without any reservations whatsoever that John Boyne is now on my shortlist of favorite authors. The House of Special Purpose is an exemplary work of historical fiction that had me hooked from the very first page. The main character, Georgy Jachmenev, is a man that you have no difficulty relating to and that makes the story that much more powerful. The narrative begins in 1981 London and leaps around through time from World War I in Russia. (I've discussed before how this narrative format can be jarring unless done correctly and this is a perfect example of a story smoothly transitioning so that the reader remains in the story.) A nobody from a small Russian village, Georgy, is elevated to personal bodyguard to the future Tsar of Russia, Alexei (the youngest son). I don't want to give too much of the story away because its unfolding majesty, tragedy, and revelation should be experienced without being spoiled. I will only say that if you're looking for a story that has romance, bravery, suspense, and heart then this is the book for you. Also, if you have any interest in the history of Russia and the Romanovs then this is a must read for you. ( )
  AliceaP | Jul 31, 2014 |
From the author of 'The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas', comes another intriguing story about the last of the Romanovs, eventuating in the relationship of a Leib guardsman and the Grand Duchess Anastasia, and of her fate. The writing easily transported me back to the times of Russian Imperialism. For me, it was a mesmerizing read and I took my time to savor it. ( )
  MomsterBookworm | Jul 14, 2014 |
READ IN ENGLISH

Normally I'm not a great novel reader, I usually read suspense books, but I'm a fan of John Boyne's Books! I really loved how he set once again a beautiful story in a beautiful background. You know what will happen to them, but still you find it worth reading and I was almost fearing the end, as if I could have changed anything. Which of course is nonsense, but it describes the way Boyne writes his stories. As if you are a part of it. Loved this story as well. Never knew a lot about the Romanovs, but I almost got the feeling that I do now! ( )
  Floratina | Jan 23, 2014 |
One of the better novels I've read about the Russian imperial family. Admittedly, a few of things that happen in this novel strain the imagination, but quality of writing more than makes up for it. The narrator traces his own life from being a peasant's son in rural Russia to a bodyguard of the Tsarevich Alexei to a librarian at the British library. While I was able to guess one of the major plots very early on, I still found this novel a very enjoyable read. ( )
  wagner.sarah35 | Dec 3, 2013 |
I love how John Boyne spins historical events and makes his stories unexpectedly compelling reads. “The House of Special Purpose” is a wonderful mix of trodden grounds of the fall of the Romanov Dynasty with a fictional and well thought narrative that goes back and forth in time in and snippets of important moments in the life of Georgy and Zoya Jackmenev, two of the survivors. This fiction brings to life the lovely myth that has sustained the romantics at heart for many years, the speculation that Anastasia may have escaped the tragedy.

Told in a series of flashbacks, 82 year old Georgy reminisces on his past as he sits by his wife deathbed. Haunted by what he had witnessed he recounts how as a young man he was ripped from an impoverished home and thrust into the inner circle of the Romanovs as bodyguard to Tsarevich Alexei, heir to the empire, and eventually fell in love with the Grand Duchess Anastasia. He inevitably became privy to the secrets of the Tsars and his family, the machination of Rasputin and events leading to the final collapse of the empire. His memories reveal shocking secrets…..

This is also a touching love story of two young people in a rebellious Russia and how they gave up everything in order for their love to survive. The story jumps in time and places a lot and you really need to kept up and stay focus otherwise the switchback ride can be quite disconcerting. Mr. Boyne has the fantastic skill of engaging his readers by the ways he smoothly intertwines facts and fiction together. I relish how the factual characters were depicted in an intriguing, honest and enjoyable way. The story may embellish aspects during this period in Imperial Russia in ways some may dislike I found it to be a refreshing and an audaciously imagined alternate in history. ( )
  Tigerpaw70 | Nov 25, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 17 (next | show all)
"Boyne re-creates both Georgy’s personal life and the life of pre-Revolutionary Russia with astonishing density and power."
added by SandSing7 | editKirkus Reviews (Jan 6, 2013)
 
Boyne writes with consummate ease, and is particularly good at drawing the indecently rich world of the pre-revolutionary Romanovs. But as the story lines multiplied and the flashbacks came rapidly, I found myself feeling a little put-upon, as if a manic railwayman was switching the points with demonic energy. The journey was ultimately worth it (if unashamedly fantastical), but a simpler route might have given the tale the enduring resonance that made The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas so unforgettable
 
"The House of Special Purpose is immediately riveting, mysterious, and tense with suspense. It is filled with heartlessness and insensitivity, but – at the same time – great love; it has pain, but incredible joy. The humanity of it will leave you crying at the end of the very first chapter."
added by SandSing7 | editKiller Nashville
 
"Irish writer John Boyne’s 'The House of Special Purpose' is a thrilling historical novel rooted in the Russian revolution and the end of Romanov czars."
added by SandSing7 | editStarTribune
 
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Voor Mark Herman, David Heyman & Rosie Alison, met dank
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Mijn vader en moeder hadden geen gelukkig huwelijk.
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Book description
De tachtigjarige Georgy Jachmenev woont in Engeland met zijn geliefde vrouw Zoya. Hun huwelijk is liefdevol, maar getekend door tragedie: het verlies van geliefden en de ervaringen van een leven in ballingschap. Als Zoya ernstig ziek wordt, maakt het paar zich op om nog eenmaal naar het Rusland van hun jeugd te reizen, het land dat hen heeft gemaakt en gebroken.

Georgy en Zoya nemen ons mee op een spannende, emotionele reis naar Sint Petersburg in het begin van de twintigste eeuw, naar het winterpaleis van de tsaar en zijn vrouw. Het was een tijd van verandering en dreiging, waarin ook een onverwachte, onmogelijke liefde opbloeide. Een liefde die leidde tot een gevaarlijke vlucht door het Europa van tussen de wereldoorlogen. Het winterpaleis is een meeslepend epos dat decennia en continenten omspant en de lezer ademloos achterlaat.
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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.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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