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The House of Special Purposeby John Boyne
Synopses & Reviews
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.
"Boyne reworks perennial rumors that Anastasia, the youngest daughter of Russia's last czar, escaped the Bolshevik firing squad that killed her family, in an overstuffed romantic novel elevated by the author's prose gifts but fatally lacking in credibility. Early chapters involving narrator Georgy Daniilovich Jachmenev's boyhood in a tiny Russian village are convincing, but when he's unexpectedly chosen as a companion for the imperial heir, Alexei, the plot veers into highly improbable territory. On Georgy's first day in St. Petersburg, he locks eyes with the 15-year-old Anastasia, feeling an immediate connection to her; glimpses Alexandra, the czar's wife, privately conferring with her evil mentor, Rasputin; and enjoys an intimate chat with Nicholas II himself, who chooses to tell an uneducated 16-year-old country boy about his heavy responsibilities. These flashbacks alternate with Georgy's life in London, where he and his wife, Zoya, have lived for two decades after fleeing the Russian Revolution. Readers who know little about Russian history may find this novel suspenseful, but others will be better off with Boyne's 2012 novel, The Absolutist, which sustains a taut, unsentimental plot without the romantic excess that mars this effort. Agent: Bonnie Nadell, Frederick Hill Bonnie Nadell Agency." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
About the Author
John Boyne was born in Ireland in 1971 and is the author of seven novels for adults and two for children. The Boy in the Striped Pajamas won two Irish Book Awards, was short-listed for the British Book Award, reached number one on the New York Times Best Sellers list, and was made into an award-winning Miramax feature film. His novels are published in more than forty languages. He lives in Dublin.
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