The House of Special Purpose
The House of Special Purpose
By John Boyne
Other Press (NY), Paperback, 9781590515983, 469pp.
Publication Date: April 2, 2013
From the author of The Absolutist, a propulsive novel of the Russian Revolution and the fate of the Romanovs.
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.
“John Boyne’s novel is a tour de force, at once epic and intimate, and above all a marvelous read.” —John Banville, author of Ancient Light and The Sea, winner of the Booker Prize
"Narrator Georgy Daniilovich Jachmenev reviews his long life, from being household of Czar Nicholas II to his post-retirement years in London...Boyne re-creates both Georgy’s personal life and the life of pre-Revolutionary Russia with astonishing density and power." —Kirkus (starred review)
"[Boyne] skillfully evokes the wrenching pain of loss and exile while presenting a tribute to enduring love." —Booklist
“Amazingly researched and vividly written.” —Foreword
“In this richly textured, audaciously imagined alternate history John Boyne chronicles a long and complex marriage forged out of the turmoil of the Russian Revolution. Georgy and Zoya are a memorable pair of lovers, and as this ingeniously structured narrative takes us deeper and deeper into their shared past, our understanding of their unremarkable present is increasingly colored by the extraordinary secrets, regrets and guilt they carry within them.” —Paul Russell, author of The Unreal Life of Sergey Nabokov
"Readers who enjoy historical fiction will find much to like in Boyne’s creative retelling of this familiar story, as he brings it to life through the eyes of an ordinary young man caught up in extraordinary events beyond his control—events that will change the world forever." —Chapter 16
"Beautifully written, I found it difficult to put the book down. Although the twist that Boyne slowly gives away is easy to figure out, it doesn’t diminish the tale. I found myself totally absorbed by his descriptions of what it was like growing up in Tsarist Russia and during the Bolshevik Revolution. Additionally, his description of what it was like living in London during World War II was hard to stop reading and kept me up very late reading for more than one night."—Bosguy
"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."—StarTribune
"If you are looking for a page-turning mixture of suspense and betrayal within a well-executed part love story, part historical epic, and part-tragedy, then “The House of Special Purpose” is a book you must not miss"—Killer Nashville
"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."—Killer Nashville
"If we were inclined to stalk an author in order to read even his grocery list, Boyne would probably be that author."—A Reader's Respite
"... Boyne could write about any subject and his lyrical phrasing and subtle wit would make it a lovely experience. And so it is with The House of Special Purpose. His pacing is impeccable and every word (except the word Anastasia, that is) is to be savored and enjoyed."—A Reader's Respite
"Part historical fiction, part romance and part tragedy, this book is a thrilling look at one of Russia’s most tumultuous eras." —Cecil Daily
"Perfect for historians who love a good novel...Give this book as a gift—and borrow it back." —Aiken Standard