Read The House of Special Purpose by John Boyne Online


Russia, 1915: At the age of 16, Georgy Jachmenev steps in front of an assassin's bullet intended for the heart of a senior member of the Russian Imperial Family. He is instantly proclaimed a hero. Before the week is out, his life as the son of a peasant farmer is changed forever when he is escorted to St Petersburg to take up his new position - as bodyguard to Alexei RomanRussia, 1915: At the age of 16, Georgy Jachmenev steps in front of an assassin's bullet intended for the heart of a senior member of the Russian Imperial Family. He is instantly proclaimed a hero. Before the week is out, his life as the son of a peasant farmer is changed forever when he is escorted to St Petersburg to take up his new position - as bodyguard to Alexei Romanov, the only son of Tsar Nicholas II.Sixty five years later, visiting his wife Zoya as she lies dying in a London hospital, memories of the life they have lived together flood his mind. Their marriage, while tender, has been marked by tragedy, the loss of loved ones, and experiences of exile that neither can forget.THE HOUSE OF SPECIAL PURPOSEis a novel about a young man ripped from a loving home and thrust into the heart of a dying empire. Privy to the secrets of Nicholas and Alexandra, the machinations of Rasputin and the events which led to the final collapse of the autocracy, Georgy is a witness and participant in a drama which will echo down the century. His is also a story of a marriage in which a husband finds it impossible to live in the present and a wife unable to reconcile herself with the past.Part love story, part historical epic, part tragedy, the novel moves from revolutionary St Petersburg to Paris after the First World War, and from London during the Blitz to the eastern coast of Finland during the 1980s, before returning to a quiet hospital bed where Georgy and Zoya's story must finally be resolved....

Title : The House of Special Purpose
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780385616065
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 432 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The House of Special Purpose Reviews

  • Debra
    2019-05-03 03:39

    So enjoyable!It is always quite enjoyable to read a book which is so well written and engaging. This book of historical fiction brings one man's past and present together. Eighty-year-old Georgy Jachmenev is currently living in England with his wife Zoya. His wife is ill and as he reflects on their life, it is evident that their life was not as common as their friends believed. Georgy Jachmenev's life began in Russia and as he looks back on his life, we learn about his ties to Tsar Nicholas II, his wife Tsarina Alexandra and their five children Olga, Tatiana, Maria, Anastasia, and Alexei. Through an act of heroism, he is brought into the world of the Romanov's during the time of the Russian Revolution. I really liked the alternating timeline story telling. This book begins toward the end of a man's life and weaves its way back to the beginning of his tale. It was a nice way to bring the story full circle and back to that fateful day in the House of Special Purpose. It is obvious that the Author did a lot of research for this book. He tells one man's story of survival, hope, love, resiliency, pain, and heartache while keeping with the historical events leading up the execution of the last czar of Russia(and his family).I have read a couple of stinkers lately and it was like a breath of fresh air reading such a finely crafted book. Extremely well written. This book is like a slow burn -it's not a page turner but I felt myself seeping into this story. This book is interesting, thought provoking, and riveting. See more of my reviews at

  • B the BookAddict
    2019-05-17 22:44

    A story of escape, exile, survival and love which spans nearly eighty years and three continents.Georgy finds the course of his life is altered when he becomes the young bodyguard to Prince Alexei Romanov. It is a time of growing unrest in Russia and fate steps in to shape their lives in a way they never expected. Once the Bolsheviks have taken control of the Palace, the outcome for the Romanov family was a fait accompli. It is no place for Romanov supporters either and the two protagonists must act accordingly. Georgy and Zoya flee to Minsk, then Paris and finally settle in London to share a life of love but one tinged with loss. A life always spent looking over their shoulders. The story shifts around in time, from 1981 back to 1917, the 1940s and 50s as Georgy at Zoya’s hospital bedside remembers their life together, their daughter, their work and their constant fear.What an enthralling, fascinating and totally satisfying read. John Boyne has obviously fully researched the last Tsar in Russia and his family and the Russian revolution. Boyne faithfully portrays the historical events taking place in Russia 1915 – 1917, but with an interesting take on one particular aspect. But it’s in the telling that he weaves a delicious story of exile, survival and a deep and abiding love, which never devolves into melodrama. Everything this author touches turns to gold. 4★ Most Highly Recommended

  • Megan
    2019-04-21 05:53

    This might be the most perfect book I have ever read.I picked it up at a library book sale because I couldn't walk out without buying something, and I recognized the title referring to Ipatiev House from my long-term obsession with the Romanovs and Imperial Russia. Within the first half dozen pages, I found out the main character is a librarian at the British Library; I thought, wow, this was a better find than I was expecting--I just got my library science degree, and special collections like the BL are near and dear to my heart. Other little personal touches kept popping out at me the whole time, and even though I've said before I never know if I like a book until the last page, this one was a consistent 5-stars for me from page one.Georgy Daniilvech Jachmenev is an 80-year-old retired librarian living in London and trying to come to grips with the fact that his wife is dying. Before that, he was a peasant farmer in a tiny Russian village; accidentally saving the life of a member of the Imperial family, he is whisked away to glamorous St. Petersburg to become the bodyguard to the most important person in Russia: Tsarevich Alexei Romanov.The book also utilizes one of my favorite storytelling methods, too: mixing up the timeline. It starts near the end, with the narrator as an old man in London; the second chapter goes into his boyhood in Russia at the end of the last century. Every other chapter, then, moves the "present" part back a decade and the "past" part forward a couple of years until they join up.Honestly, everything about this book was perfect, and it wasn't just the subject matter, because I generally don't even try fiction about the Romanovs. But I don't mind telling you, I cried through the last three chapters, and that was a good, good thing.My favorite way to read a book is to know as little as possible about it going in, so that's all I'm going to say about the plot--I think that knowing absolutely nothing about the book made it a better experience for me, and so I think your experience will also be better if you don't know any more. If this makes you want to read it, then it's enough. Go enjoy this book! But if you don't care about spoilers and want a more thorough review, I have reviewed it more in depth here.Original review from Hundredaire Socialite

  • Cher
    2019-05-14 21:52

    4.5 stars - Incredible. I really loved it.This was the first novel I read by John Boyne, and I am thrilled that I have more to choose from as I really enjoyed his writing style. This poignant tale about the Romanovs, the Russian civil war, and 60 years of a married couple's love story was simply wonderful. The author did take a few liberties with known historical facts which is bothersome in historical fiction (I prefer the liberties to be with the unknowns, but such is personal preference), some of which were far fetched enough to require suspension of disbelief. The pacing was moderate - not a fast paced page turner but also never dull. The writing was beautiful and memorable with an infusion of subtle wit. The story alternates between when the main character, Georgy, was a young man in the early 1900s and his modern day in the 1980s until the two stories come together with all questions answered. I loved all facets of the character's life and enjoyed the domesticity that was included as it added depth and believability to the relationship between him and his wife. Easily recommended to fans of historical fiction! I listened to this one on audio and the narrator, Stefan Rudnicki, was fantastic, adding a whole other element of greatness to the novel.-------------------------------------------Favorite Quote: It occurs to me that even though Zoya and I are both still alive, my life is already over. She will be taken from me soon and there will be no reason for me to continue without her. We are one person, you see. We are GeorgyandZoya.First Sentence: My mother and father did not have a happy marriage.

  • Carol
    2019-04-29 00:50

    In this historical work of fiction, eighty-two year old Georgy Daniilvech Jachmenev narrates a shocking and eventful part of his younger life while serving as bodyguard to the son of the last Tsar of Russia. After a tragic and guilt-ridden beginning for Georgy, he finds true love and encounters evil, but ultimately uncovers the secret within The House of Special Purpose.This wonderful story is told with an alternating timeline writing style that is fast-paced and comes together nicely in the end. Really enjoyed it!

  • Mariana Santos
    2019-05-02 23:35

    It took me a weekend to read this book . It's an easy reading , quite touching and fairly entertaining, will probably keep you hooked . People who like pretty love stories will probably adopt it as a favorite.However , the reason which made me read this was the reason why I didn't like it better. Well,I'm obsessed with the Romanovs , have always been .When I heard that this book was related to their story I just couldn't pass by it. I wrote a history essay about their finals days when I was graduating highschool, I had done tons of research and I strangely knew every single detail about their life in the Ipatiev house and I like to think to myself that I knew each one of their characters very well. Unfortunately I can't say the same about Boyne . * SPOILERS ahead , if you haven't read it be careful* There were points in which I caught myself thinking if he had actually ever made a background research before writing this . He did get some details right , like the fact that Nicholas loved Anastacia ,the way he speaks to Alexandra, his fears of being murderes due to his granfather's accident, the visit to Stavka, the czarina having helped as a nurse during the war and such ; but others were almost hard for me to swallow, like for instance - spoiler alert! - the fact that Anastasia would have escaped so easily, the lack of vigilance inside the Palace, a boy with no experience at all assuming such an important , high position...! Come on Boyne! You had me rolling my eyes.Not to mention some other details like the fact that they were , first of all ,executed in the basement and there were no windows . Secondly , during their last days every soldier of the house had their eyes fixed on every move they made - even the short period of time they were allowed outside was calculated ! So yeah , I know it's fiction Boyne , I know that we are not supposed to compare to the real thing , but I thought you went a little overboard with that ending... PS: don't you actually think that they would look for Anastasia when they saw she wasn't there? Did you really think that they would simply "forget " about her ,let her go? I know I'm being a bully for picking on such details , even my sister was irritated when I spent 10 minutes enumerating the reasons why this story would never be possible. Well , if we pass through this fixation of mine with reality , the book was , how can I put it , enjoyable . The story of the older Georgui seemed to me to be of a better quality than the rest. It's an touching, sad book , and I think the author manages to play with the characters emotions well, and the passages which took place during memorable periods like WWII and the Cold War were also nicely built and with interesting details . But in the end , Boyne just didn't amuse me. This was the first of his books that I've ever read , and I wouldn't pick another one eagerly. He is not very creative beyond the common place , his characters, excluding the main ones , are unidimensional , plain and poorly developed. His narrative is well structured and cohesive ,objective without being too dry. But his descriptions are dull and sound rather amateurist ( i lost the count of how many times he would say "he/she looked skinnier and his/her hair had lost it's color" to describe someone sad , or how he would describe Rasputin the same way a childrens book describe the evil witch), the superficial way in which he deals with secundary characters annoyed and irritated me - they were as flat as stick figures. It was a nice passtime , but this book is no masterpiece . I smiled , I felt sorry and sad , I even had a difficulty putting it aside , I admit it! Probably if I din't knew so much about the Romanov I would have like it quite well, but I was rather critical than amused by the fact that it deviated so much from the reality which with we are all so acquainted .

  • Sonja Arlow
    2019-05-21 02:47

    I have always been interested in Russian history/people but for some reason have only ever read one other book that deals with the Romanovs.Through the eyes of the personal bodyguard of the only son of Tsar Nicolas II, the opulence of the royal family was put in sharp contrast beside the hunger, exhaustion and discontent of the masses during World War 1.Initially the writing was wonderful and effortlessly pulled me into the story and culture of rural Russia however this great momentum started slowing down as the book progressed and to be honest towards the end the writing was reminiscent of young adult literature.Perhaps it was a case of me wanting to read more of a historical novel and less of a star-crossed love story.I was also disappointed that not more time was spent on the most interesting and enigmatic figure of them all, Rasputin.What I do find very interesting is that almost 100 years after the fall of the Romanovs rumours and speculation are still very much alive around the possibility of Anastacia’s escape from the House of Special Purpose. Perhaps it’s a case of hoping that one ray of light survived this very dark mark in history.This is not a bad book for anyone who wants to be eased into historical fiction / the Romanovs but I still feel as if I wanted more.

  • Nicki
    2019-04-26 03:44

    This is the tale of a young Russian, Georgy, who finds himself as bodyguard to the Tsarevich Alexei in the final years of Romanov rule. Georgy often finds himself in the thick of things as Russia moves from a monarchy to a republic. The novel centres around Georgy's improbable romance with one of the Grand Duchesses and his unshakeable love for his wife, another Russian emigre.The story moves backwards and forwards between time periods as Georgy tells of his life. We see young Georgy coming to St Petersberg to serve the Imperial Family and how his relationships with various members of the family develop. We see old Georgy watching his beloved wife, Zoya, battle the end stages of cancer. We see Georgy in Paris after the October Revolution and in London from the 1930s onwards. As a narrator, Georgy isn't always a very sympathetic character. He can be incredibly naive, which often feels like a clumsy exposition tool so the author can explain certain things to the reader. Georgy can be very self-centred, which I found quite off-putting in places. He also has an uncanny knack for being smack dab in the middle of historic events as they happen, which is highly unlikely for a peasant turned soldier. That's fine a few times, but really stretches credibility when it happens time and time again. The story plods at times, but I stuck with it because the fall of the Romanovs is one of those subjects that has always fascinated me. The history is a bit off in places, but will only jar if you already know a fair bit about what happened to the Romanovs in the House of Special Purpose in Ekaterinburg.There is a twist to the tale, which I guessed early on, but I won't spoil it for you if you want to read this. The most interesting bits for me were those set in revolutionary Russia. I could have done without some of the interim years, like Georgy and Zoya's domesticity. I guess the author felt that much of that was needed to put the central secret in context, but I thought it was unnecessary. Overall, I thought the novel needed to be pacier to make it into a real page-turner.

  • Banafsheh Serov
    2019-05-05 03:52

    The House of Special PurposeJohn BoyleGeorgy Daniilavich is a Russian peasant whose life takes a dramatic turn when he saves the life of Grand Duke Nicholas Nicholavich, the uncle of Tsar Nicholas II. Moved to the Winter Palace in Petrograd, Georgy finds himself at the centre of the Royal life at a time of great turmoil in Russian history.Going back and forth between the Russian Court and Georgy’s later life in London - where he lives in exile with his wife Zoya – the story follows the events that have conspired in changing Georgy’s life forever. The brutal murder of the Tsar and his family has always been one of the most talked about focal points of the Russian revolution. Since then, there has been much speculation surrounding the Tsar’s youngest daughter, Anastasia, surviving the execution. It is these myths that Boyle weaves into his story as we move closer to the events of that faithful day and the true identity of Georgy’s wife Zoya. Already a fan of John Boyle, I was drawn to The House of Special Purpose by its historical content. Although much research has obviously gone into making the story credible, the story itself is disappointing. Despite Boyle’s attempt to tease out Zoya’s identity, it is clear from quite early on in the book who she is. With the mystery of Zoya taken out, the story’s strength becomes its historical context and at the heart of it, the love affair of the two main characters. And although the blossoming love affair is tender and touching, the historical points seem forced in their delivery. 3 stars

  • Pam Jaramillo
    2019-04-20 05:42

    Este libro me dejo pensando. Aun necesito tiempo para decidir cuanto me gusto.

  • Trish at Between My Lines
    2019-04-29 00:25

    And the award for the saddest last line in a book EVER goes to The House of Special Purpose :(I'm not crying, I'm not...ok I am *sniffles*

  • Tina
    2019-05-18 04:29

    This is one of those books that people kept telling me to read because I am a Romanov buff. I have read just about everything about the last Tsar and his family, so it's difficult for me to read fictional accounts of them sometimes. It's not impossible, though. I love historical fiction, and the Romanovs are classic pickings for the genre - especially when you consider the aftermath of the Russian Revolution. Everything I knew about the book going in pointed to my thoroughly enjoying it.My review can be summed up in one big, resounding "Meh."It's slow. Super slow. I figured out who Georgy's wife, Zoya, was very early on. There wasn't a whole lot of mystery to that, even though that's what the author seemed to be shooting for. The mixed up timelines didn't really bother me, but when it was all said and done, it seemed wholly unnecessary. The story could have been told in a linear fashion, which would have made it a much cleaner book. The switching timelines seemed to add suspense where there didn't really need to be any. A lot of the book seems forced, and even though you're supposed to suspend belief when reading a novel, this was a lot.I didn't like the narrator at all. He's immature and naive, and somehow always manages to be right in the middle of the big historic events. Give me a freaking break. Quite honestly, I thought the book would have been much more effective told from his wife's perspective, and as I read, I was kind of surprised that the author DIDN'T use her as a narrator. She's much more immersed in the plot, and I would have preferred listening to her tell the story.What really got me was how bored I was, reading this. Authors who drain the intrigue and emotion out of a story as heartbreaking as this one deserve a medal, because that is some feat. The big, fundamental flaw of this one is that it's clearly overthought. Coco Chanel said, "When accessorizing you should always take off the last thing you put on." The same is true here, and that's really a shame.

  • Julia
    2019-04-22 01:46

    I've always been fascinated by the Russian Revolution, although I know that it wasn't romantic or beautiful in real life. Still, I love reading books about Russian princesses and balls in sparkling halls. John Boyne did a great job in creating his story about the last Tsar and his family, especially by choosing to use the voice of someone who had - at first - nothing in commom with the royal family. I thought that the love story between Anastasia and the main character was really well elaborated and though it's a very uncommon story, I could totally imagine it actually happening. I don't want to give anything away but it's a great book which will make you travel many miles into the long lost Russian monarchy. It's a sad story, so grab a few tissues before getting comfortable. I also loved the structure of the novel - going back and forth in time to the most important happenings in Georgy's life was a really good idea of John Boyne. Well, it's a great book. It's definitely worth your time.

  • Aviones de papel
    2019-04-23 04:50

    El estilo de escritura de John Boyne es bastante bueno, me ha gustado más que en el primer libro que leí de él "El niño con el pijama de rayas" y el desarrollo de la novela es en general bastante entretenido, con algunas partes apoteósicas y otras no tanto. Está muy bien que te hablen de la famila Romanov desde un punto de vista que pocas veces se ha hablado. Lo malo es que los personajes y su historia de amor me han dejado bastante indiferente, a parte de recurrir al instalove, y si el autor pretendía sorprender a alguien con el final, conmigo no lo ha conseguido, era bastante previsible casi desde el principio. Tampoco he entendido muy bien esos capítulos de relleno en los que parece que al protagonista lo busquen los rusos para que trabaje para ellos o algo así, pero sin desarrollar eso en ningún momento.En definitiva, novela histórica medianamente entretenida, pero que tampoco aporta demasiado.

  • Shakira
    2019-05-17 00:53

    4.25... I was thinking 3.75 until the second half of the book where it just got so much better. Ah this book picked up so much nearer the second half. I definitely enjoyed this one and yet again John Boyne has me impressed by hos ability to write between different time periods so well. It's like his signature almost. This one was even more impressive on that scale since this book had more ro it and I won't explain because spoilers but yes a solid 4.25 stars for me.

  • Margarida
    2019-05-15 21:35

    Uau! Um dos melhores livros que li nos últimos tempos! Foi o primeiro livro de John Boyne que li e adorei a forma como escreve. Vi o filme baseado no seu livro “O rapaz do pijama às riscas”, que adorei e… um dia destes vou de certeza ler o livro. Adorei a escrita de John Boyne.Acho que o autor fez um óptimo trabalho de investigação sobre a Rússia Imperial e a Rússia a caminho de uma revolução e enquadrou na perfeição personagens reais com personagens de ficção. Embora se trate de uma nova (mais uma) abordagem à saga/mistério dos Romanov, à dúvida/mistério que existiu durante muito tempo sobre se realmente todos foram assassinados ou se Anastasia teria sobrevivido, fê-lo de uma forma tão diferente que me cativou profundamente.A historia é contada na primeira pessoa por um homem, Georgy Jachmenev, um bibliotecário reformado que reside em Londres, e que, com 80 anos, acompanha os últimos momentos da esposa, internada num hospital. Alterna entre presente e passado conforme vai recordando os acontecimentos que mudaram sua vida, desde o momento em que, acidentalmente, salvou o grão-duque Nicolau Nicolaievitch, irmão do czar, até ao momento em que conheceu o grande amor da sua vida e como a partir daí toda a sua vida se alterou: como passou de um simples camponês numa pequena aldeia russa a guarda-costas do filho do czar e futuro czar!.Ao ler este livro senti uma série de emoções… Geórgui é um homem bondoso, doce e o seu amor pela esposa é tão comovente que me fez, em muitas ocasiões, quase chorar. A sua lealdade ao Czar é igualmente comovente. Aquando da revolução podia, e tinha tudo para se ter se revoltado, mas permaneceu fiel aos Romanov e firme nas suas crenças. Por toda uma vida!Todo o livro é, para além de uma abordagem histórica a factos que mudaram o mundo, uma elegia ao amor! É acima de tudo uma história de amor que atravessou todo um século de mudanças, mas que se manteve fiel ao seu amor e às suas origens, quer na alegria quer na adversidade! Um livro excepcional em todos os sentidos: um grande romance histórico mas acima de tudo um romance de amor que arrebatará até os corações mais frios… e quem gostar da história da Rússia, não pode deixar de ler este livro.Um dos melhores romances históricos que já li nos últimos tempos. O autor sabe como “agarrar-nos” desde o início e manter-nos agarrados de tal forma que não queremos largar o livro.O fim, embora previsível não deixa de ser arrebatador! A forma como o autor junta presente e passado no final é divinal! Adorei cada momento do livro: a História, a aventura, o mistério e o romance. Muito bem escrito! Recomendo! Infelizmente acho que não está editado em Portugal, o que é realmente uma pena, porque é um livro que vale mesmo, mesmo a pena ler! Se puderem ler nem que seja versão original, aconselho: é mesmo muito, muito bom!

  • Morgan
    2019-04-25 22:36

    I have tried to prolong my reading of this book as long as humanly possible while still progressing with it. I never wanted it to end. And as it came to a close (I was in tears, surprise surprise) it still came way too soon. I don't believe there was a character I disliked or one that I hated hearing from, the exception being the craziness that is Rasputin/Father Gregory. My heart feels for each of these characters and I want to reread this and hope for a better outcome. Needless to say, this is one of my all-time favorite historical fictions.I loved the fact that the story started in the present and bounced back and forth to the past. But instead of both continuing forward, the present worked in reverse. With each section we came closer and closer to the year of 1918. I don't know if I explained that in a coherent way, but I tried really hard! It was a bit disorienting at the beginning, but I quickly fell in love with it. I loved that we traveled backward through the decades and got a peek into several historical moments, like Stalin's death and Queen Elizabeth's coronation. The House of Special Purpose is a work of art and I would more than love to hear how the author went about writing it (chronologically and then came up with the order later? Mix and matched after the book was finished? Or the way it was presented in the book?)This book will forever be close to my heart, as I adored every moment of it. It was emotional to say the least, as I knew it would be, but I would read it again in a second.QUOTESWe clinked our glasses together and returned to our meals, a family of four already, not three.I shook the globe and the collection of snowflakes which had been resting peacefully on its base rose upward in the water, floating gently toward the roof of the palace before defending slowly, and the characters in my memory emerged from their hidden places and looked toward the skies, their hand outstretched, smiling at each other, together once again, wishing that these moments might never end and the future might never come."I wanted you to know," he said, his voice choked up as if he was trying to stop himself from crying, "I wanted you to know that you can be my brother if you like. As long as you let me be yours.""And your own medical history—have you suffered from any major traumas during your life?"There was a moment of vacillation on her part and then Zoya suddenly burst out laughing at the doctor's question and I turned to look at her in surprise.We are one person, you see. We are GeorgyandZoya.

  • Liviu
    2019-05-11 02:31

    An unexpectedly compelling read that mixes well trodden ground (last days of the Tsar's rule, Rasputin, the murder of the Tsar and his family) with a well thought narrative structure that presents snippets from the future life of two survivors of the times.Narrated by Georgy Jachmenev, son of a muzhik from an imperial estate who distinguishes himself by saving the life of an Imperial Duke and gets appointed as bodyguard to the Tsar and his family, in particular to the young, sick and fragile Tsarevich Aleksei. In the present (1981) 80+ year old Georgy is living in London after a lifetime of work for the British Museum and he is attending his lifelong partner and wife of 60+ years, Zoya who is terminally ill of cancer, while being consoled by his single surviving relative, his grandson - after 3 miscarriages, Zoya had finally a daughter but she died in her 30's in a car accident.The narration goes back in time in flashes and snippets of the important moments in the life of the couple as well as forward in time from Georgy's birth to his becoming a member of the Tsar's Guard, to his illicit love affair with the youngest of the Tsar's daughters Grand Duchess Anastasia to whom he have sworn eternal fidelity; and of course the question occurs, who is Zoya then?While we get an early answer that they met on a 3 day nightmarish train ride from Siberia in 1918 escaping from the Bolsheviks, things are slowly revealed...Excellent writing and a book that I opened it more to to take a look at, while after that I could not really put it down; emotional, haunting and with 2 great characters that survive the wreck of an era and make themselves a life in exile while still being haunted by the brutal pastHighly recommendedFBC review:

  • Abril Camino
    2019-05-10 00:31

    Qué maravilla. Una novela técnicamente perfecta, con una estructura compleja pero perfectamente ejecutada. Una historia de amor y dolor increíblemente narrada. Un poco fantasioso y previsible el final, pero se le perdona todo. A mediados de febrero y ya tengo claro que será top 3 de lecturas del año. Recomendadísima.

  • Carol Ann
    2019-04-23 21:54

    Boyne is an absolutely terrific writer. Riveted from the first page, exhausted by the last. Maybe a tad too long, but interesting, compelling and poignant. Hoping for a movie treatment. 3.5 stars.

  • Natalie
    2019-04-23 23:37

    I već pri zadnjih 50tak stranica sam imala odluku da ću joj dati 3 zvijezdice jer mi je jako dobar dio povijesti o Romaniovima u zimskom dvorcu ali ne i tako zanimljiv dio ''sadašnjiosti'' oko glavnog lika i njegove žene. Onda se dogodio mali ''nježni'' preokret i u toj ''sadašnjosti'' kad se otkrilo tko je to zapravo :)))) eto opet me ''smekšao'' i 4 je čist dovoljno.

  • Mirela Ivancevic
    2019-05-07 22:32

  • JanEyre9
    2019-05-10 04:49

    This is one of the best works of historical fiction that I have read in a long time. The story of a country boy pulled into the lush and lavish world of the Romanov family simultaneously told with his future life as an elderly man in London is superb. The characters are wonderful, the setting is fantastic, the language is lovely. My only gripe is that I wanted more. Some characters are developed perfectly while I felt some others had so much story left to be told. But it is a testament to the author that what he created was so intriguing that I wanted more. A beautiful story filled with romance, danger, and history.

  • Toni Osborne
    2019-05-10 05:41

    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.

  • Maryana
    2019-05-07 05:26

    I am a fan of John Boyne's books for younger readers and this was the first adult book of his that I have read. I hate to say this, but it was a disappointment. With such a talented author and such an interesting history to work from, I was expecting more.The romance was less real and more descriptive, sacrificing depth for emotion and passion. The 'revelation' at the end of the book was predictable. Also, and possibly worst of all, there seemed to be no purpose to the journey of the characters. While it is arguable that the characters face their lives with grace, bravery, loyalty and eventually, love, they have little hope and much of their lives revolve around themselves. I will admit that the plot structure (which started at the beginning and end simultaneously) was very clever. However the threads it drew together could, in my opinion, have reached a more satisfying and meaningful end. On the positive side, John Boyne's language did not fall in quality and the writing style, while not of his usual caliber, was still above average. Significantly also, Boyne reminds readers that historical figures, even those as infamous as the Romanovs, were human beings with hopes, dreams and beliefs; living and breathing people. In a society that tends to be a little too critical and skeptical of those that came before, this was slightly surprising and refreshing at the same time. However, I would not say that this last positive point is enough to make this book worth reading. I would be very selective of the audience I recommend it to, as I am sure there are many better books out there that could achieve the same or better than Boyne has done with The House of Special Purpose.

  • Nancy McKibben
    2019-04-22 00:53

    The House of Special PurposeBy John BoyneI liked this book, although not as much as the reviewers who blurbed it. I had a little trouble swallowing the premise of the protagonist as a peasant turned bodyguard to the Tsarevich Alexei, and the main plot that devolved from it (which I don’t want to give away, although I guessed it pretty early on.) But after I forced myself to accept the two huge coincidences upon which the plot hangs, the book became the proverbial good read.We know from the beginning that the protagonist Georgy and wife Zoya escape the Russian Revolution, as the novel is a meditation on their lives since that time. Georgy works at the British Museum and Zoya, troubled throughout her life by what she has seen, remains the light of Georgy’s life. I was taken with the way the author chooses to reveal the lives and choices of the main characters; it is far from chronological, but not at all confusing. In the end, the reader understands why Georgy and Zoya make life choices that would seem dull to some.Boyne has a sure touch with period detail, and the wonders of living life as the ruling family of Russia are well-rendered and nearly as astonishing to the modern day reader as they are to the peasant Georgy. The characters are finely drawn and engaging - and also tragic, as we see clearly that the Tsar, a nice guy who probably would have been good at a number of things, is burdened instead by directing the Russian army, which he does very badly.Worth reading.

  • Lisa B.
    2019-04-25 22:32

    My ThoughtsI really enjoyed this book. I liked the way the author decided to tell his tale. The story is told by Georgy and when we first meet him, he is in his early eighties. In the next chapter, Georgy is sixteen and an unpredictable event occurs that changes his life forever. In alternating chapters, older Georgy’s story moves back in time while younger Georgy’s story moves forward. We eventually get to the point where the two story lines meet and all secrets are revealed. I couldn’t wait to find out what was meant by “the house of special purpose”. The author does a great job of giving just enough detail in each chapter to keep the reader engaged. Young Georgy’s story is based during the final years of the Romanovs, a period in history I have always found fascinating. I don’t want to ruin it for readers of the book, but this plays a significant part in the story.As always, I am sad when I have come to the end of such an entertaining book. The good part though is that this is a new author for me. Mr. Boyne has numerous other books published, and if The House of Special Purpose is an indication of his writing, I have a whole batch of books to add to my TBR list.I would like to thank Other Press, via Netgalley, for allowing me to read this in exchange for an unbiased review. Lucky me.Published date: April 2, 2013

  • Noelia
    2019-04-29 00:50

    Al principio, la historia y la forma en la que ésta estaba estructurada me parecieron originales, pero que una idea sea buena no quiere decir que esté articulada correctamente. El principal problema ha sido la escritura de Boyne: pobre e insípida. A todo esto se añade la falta de misterio, porque el libro es predecible hasta decir basta, y la falta de coherencia en las acciones del protagonista.Mi conclusión: no me parece una lectura recomendable. Hay por ahí libros que merecen más la pena.

  • Laura
    2019-05-14 03:30

    From BBC Radio 4 Extra: John Boyne's haunting novel travels to the heart of the Russian empire where young imperial family bodyguard Georgy Jachmenev is privy to the secrets of Tsar Nicholas and his wife Alexandra.

  • Pam Walter
    2019-04-20 21:50

    I love reading Russian history and when I read the great ratings and reviews on "The House of Special Purpose", I had to try it. The story begins in 1981 when Georgy Jachmenev, a retired librarian from the British Museum is caring for his beloved wife Zoya who is dying from cancer. It is written in the first person of Georgy, and moves back and forth to various times in their lives. Georgy was a simple farm child from a large family who saved the life of the Tsar's cousin and was taken to the capital (at that time Petrograd) where he became companion and protector of the heir apparent The Tsarevitch Alexander Romanov, age 11, who suffered from hemophilia. The book artfully describes the naiveté of the royal family as to their lives of opulence and the relative circumstance of the rest of Russia. Through a highly unlikely romance we get an inside look at the downfall and abdication of Tsar Nicholas II and that fateful night in Yekaterinburg.The House of Special Purpose reminded me of another book that I thoroughly enjoyed. The Kitchen Boy: A Novel of the Last Tsar was excellent.This is the first book that I have read of author John Boyne, but found him a delightful storyteller, and his use of historical fiction to be very effective. Some parts of the book were audacious, as the idea that an eleven year old farm child could elevate himself to an adolescent intellectual by occasional visits to the Tsar's library, but chalked those up to creative license.I listened to the audio version of this book and thought that the narrator Stefan Rudnicki did an excellent job. Rudnicki gets 5 stars.