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The House of Special Purpose by John Boyne

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

by John Boyne

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4944320,689 (3.86)27
Title:The House of Special Purpose
Authors:John Boyne
Info:Other Press (2013), Paperback, 480 pages
Collections:Your library

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The House of Special Purpose by John Boyne (2005)



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English (25)  Dutch (9)  Spanish (6)  Catalan (1)  German (1)  Norwegian (1)  All (43)
Showing 1-5 of 25 (next | show all)
I hate to say this, as I'm sure the author worked hard on this book, but I did not enjoy it at all.

First of all, Georgy was so self centered that at times he came off as cruel (his unforgiveable refusal to help his sister) and at times ridiculously ignorant (He grew increasingly annoyed by the way Alexei was treated so "delicately", never even considering that there might be a reason for it.).

I did not find this book romantic. In the past, it was love at first sight between Georgy and a Grand Duchess. Give me a break. In the later timeline, it was clear Georgy was devoted to Zoya, but she didn't seem to return those feelings.

It may have been an interesting concept, starting the more modern timeline at it's most current point and moving backward to the revolution, but it didn't work. Georgy and Zoya were sad about events I hadn't yet seen and missing characters I hadn't yet met. As a consequence, emotional resonance was not possible.

On a related note, it would have been much easier to believe that Georgy came to really care about Alexei if there had been a couple more scenes between them. If space was an issue, maybe some of the Rasputin scenes could have been trimmed. Most of them did not advance the plot in any way, and every single one of them mentioned how gross his teeth were.

I know this is a work of fiction, but at times it was eye rollingly unbelievable. For example, when Georgy first meets Nicholas, the tsar immediately starts confiding some of his thoughts and feelings to the young peasant. This case was not the most offending example, but it doesn't spoil anything.

Speaking of: the twist at the end of the book was so obvious from so early on that I wondered if it was even supposed to be a secret. But then it was completely, almost insultingly, spelled out.

I can't recommend this book to anyone, especially not anyone who has any knowledge of the Romanovs, but I am glad that not everyone else who read this book felt their time was so badly spent. ( )
  ang709 | Oct 26, 2016 |
Georgy is a Russian peasant who saves the life of the Tsar's cousin and as a reward is given a position as bodyguard to the Tsarevich, moving from his village to the Winter Palace in St Petersburg. The story moves between the Russian court and Georgy's life in London, where he and his wife Zoya have settled after first going to Paris when they fled the Russian Revolution.

While this was an enjoyable read there were some implausible moments, such as Georgy becoming the Tsar's confidant and two of the Tsar's daughters becoming romatically involved with two of the bodyguards. My one other complaint is that Zoya's real identity is obvious from chapter two although Boyne wants you to keep guessing until the end, but overall this was a good read.

( )
  KarenDuff | Jun 1, 2016 |

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 | May 26, 2016 |
My favorite line: "I am a talisman for unhappiness...I have brought nothing but misery throughout my life for the people who loved me. Nothing but pain." - Zoya, p. 118

I enjoyed John Boyne's re-enactment and re-imagining of the final days of Nicholas and Alexandra as conveyed by Georgy Jachmenev, a Russian emigre in London telling his life's story. The story was engaging, well-constructed, rich in detail, and plausible. I particularly enjoyed the author's careful drawing of Tsar Nicholas and devilishly charismatic Father Gregory aka Rasputin.

For readers (like me!) who enjoy historical fiction and a good story, Boyne's book is fun and very approachable. While there is absolutely nothing junky about it, this book is engaging enough to make for a nice vacation read. ( )
  EpicTale | Apr 20, 2016 |
Featuring the original “Russian Forrest Gump” (or Форрест Гамп - I hope that is not too rude...) turning up over and over again at just the right time in just the right place to happen upon every major historical character from this period as they are making dramatic decisions that will change the course of history.
Deeply moving and frustratingly clichéd by turns, how does he do it?

I feel the author should stick to kids’ books: “the Boy in the Striped Pyjamas” is really quite wonderful. This unfortunately is not. ( )
  stevierbrown | Mar 22, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 25 (next | show all)
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
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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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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)

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