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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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4283824,653 (3.95)26
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 (20)  Dutch (10)  Spanish (6)  Catalan (1)  Norwegian (1)  All languages (38)
Showing 1-5 of 20 (next | show all)
It's 1981 and retired librarian Georgy Daniilovich Jachmenev reviews his life as his wife Zoya lies dying in a hospital bed. From the impoverished small town of his childhood, his saving of a member of the Russian Imperial Family from an assassin's bullet when he was sixteen, to St. Petersburg and the Winter Palace of Tsar Nicholas II and his job as companion and bodyguard to the Tsarevich Alexei Romanov. Boyne's story travels back and forth in time, encompassing the Russian Revolution, post-war Paris and London where he and his wife settled and raised a daughter and grandson.

A nice piece of historical fiction about the fall of the Romanov Dynasty and the Romanov's last days in the Ipatiev house ('The House of Special Purpose'), a merchant's house in Yekaterinburg where the Romanov's and members of their household were executed on 17 July 1918 following the Bolshevik Revolution. They were moved in on 30 April 1918 and spent 78 days in the house. Historically inaccurate in many small details, but still a good story that will serve to fuel the popular myth of Anastasia's survival. ( )
  DebbieMcCauley | Apr 4, 2015 |
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 4, 2015 |
As his wife Zoya lies dying, Georgy Daniilovich Jachmenev reviews his life, from the small town where he spent his childhood, to the palace of Tsar Nicholas II to be a companion for the Tsarevich Alexei.The story travels back and forth in time, to the Russian Revolution, to Paris with his young wife, to London where they settled and raised a daughter and a grandson. Boyne does a wonderful job of letting the secrets drop one by one, keeping the reader's interest, and he makes the action in each time sequence match enough that one doesn't have to keep looking at the beginning of the chapter to figure out what year we are in. Fascinating and compelling! ( )
  tloeffler | Dec 30, 2014 |
I seem to be on a history kick with my reading. This is another book following two story lines. One in 1981 and one in 1917 - both following Georgy Jachmenev, a Russian peasant whose life changes with one moment of bravery.

As a young man, Georgy saves the life of the Tsar's cousin and finds himself Alexi, the Tsar's son's, bodyguard and confidante. The second line of the story follows Georgy's memories as he deals with his beloved Zoya's diagnosis with cancer.

As a reader I guessed the connections early on. But, I am not a history buff and admit to being very shady on Russian history. So, the story was able to take me on a historical ride of Russian history. And because of that I had never heard of "The House of Special Purpose."

Although the historical part of the novel is key - it was the love story that drew me in. Catching glimpses of Zoya and Georgy as they move through the years was sweet and endearing. This is a story of a couple facing the problems of post WWI Paris and WWII London as well as the death of their only daughter first and foremost. That they were also key historical figures seemed secondary.

It took me a little to get into this book. The story of Georgy's early life did not hook me. I didn't really care very much about his father or his sister. But as Georgy moved into life in St. Petersburg, I began to really care about his naive outlook on life. And I am a sucker for royalty - so the Romanovs were great!!

This was another great read! ( )
  kebets | Nov 1, 2014 |
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 |
Showing 1-5 of 20 (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)

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