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The House of Special Purpose Paperback – 15 Apr 2010


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Product details

  • Paperback: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Black Swan (15 April 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 055277541X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0552775410
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 2.9 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 149,552 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

John Boyne was born in Ireland in 1971. The winner of two Irish Book Awards, he is the author of eight novels for adults and four for younger readers, including the international bestseller The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, which was made into a Miramax feature film and has sold more than six million copies worldwide. His novels are published in over forty-five languages. He lives in Dublin. www.johnboyne.com.

Product Description

Review

"Boyne is a skilled storyteller... his novel is an exciting, fast-paced story... absorbing and richly satisfying" (The Times)

"John Boyne has a talent for bringing big historical events to life... Boyne has skilfully drawn a living, breathing character who not only witnessed one of the greatest events of the 20th century but also had his own part to play in how the dramatic tale unravels" (Daily Express)

"Boyne writes with consumnate ease, and is particularly good at drawing the indecently rich world of the pre-revolutionary Romanovs" (Independent)

"A wonderful, many-layered novel, written with thought and tenderness... mesmerising" (The Irish Examiner)

"Boyne exercises total control over pace and revelation. A work that chimes perfectly with our times" (The Irish Times)

Book Description

The stunning new novel from the author of The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas

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Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Karen Baxter VINE VOICE on 27 Feb 2010
Format: Hardcover
An accurate history book it's not ... but as a fantasy tale of fiction loosely based on the final collapse of the Russian Autocracy it is outstandingly readable.

The story is narrated by the main character, hero Georgy Jachmenev and spans almost 70 years of his life. Just like a giant jigsaw puzzle starting with the outside pieces of Georgy's life in 1981 at the age of 82 and filling in the story with fragments until the one big picture is complete, and amazingly it works.

John Boyne is a gifted storyteller and an equally gifted writer, I loved this book and found the story exciting, dramatic, emotional and used as a broad outline of the demise of the last Russian Autocratic family Tsar and Tsaritsa Nicholas II and Alexandra, historic.

Characterisation is superb and although the Author does not fill his pages with description, you will find set within the folds of each small puzzle piece, a detailed picture of life and personalities that spring rapidly to life.

Just like John Boyne's previous book ` The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas ` ... this would make an excellent film.

I for one cannot wait until his next novel.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer VINE VOICE on 24 May 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I enjoyed this book. I read a lot of Pre-revolution Russian history and although John Boyne may have taken some liberties with historical accuracy, I enjoyed this particular take on the story. Whilst not giving too much away, we are led to believe that not all the Romanovs were executed in 1918. Did we ever wonder what the life of a Romanov survivor may be have been like? How would that person have coped with life after the devastating events of that night. It was interesting to read John Boyne's emotional development of that figure through the years that followed and I found it was an emotional rollercoaster. Thanks for giving us another angle to the much written accounts.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By S Riaz HALL OF FAMETOP 10 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 18 Aug 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
There are two storylines running parallel in this novel, both told by Georgy. One story runs from the present time (1981) when he is now 82 years old and has not seen his Russian family for over sixty years. He is now living with his wife, Zoya, in London and she is dying of cancer. This narrative runs backwards and tells the story of his marriage. The other thread of the story tells Georgy's story from his childhood in a small Russian village, Kashin, to the event which changes his life.

Georgy has three sisters and violent and uncaring parents. He is closest to his eldest sister, Asya, who dreams of a better life, outside of the constant drudgery and poverty she endures. Georgy's best friend is Kolek, whose father is as much a revolutionary as Georgy's is loyal to the Tsar. When the Grand Duke Nicholas Nicolaievich passes through Kashin, the inhabitants are meant to stand and cheer the cousin to the Tsar. Kolek, keen to impress his father, attempts to assassinate the Grand Duke and when Georgy tries to stop him he is shot instead of the Grand Duke. He is immediately assigned to protect the Tsarevich Alexei and be his companion, meaning that, on his recovery, he leaves for the Winter Palace and swops a hovel for a palace.

As the story of Georgy and Zola goes backwards, the storyline set in Russia goes forwards, producing a feeling of impending disaster as the Russian Revolution both concludes one story and begins another. There is a twist to the tale, but it is so obvious that you wonder why the author bothered to be honest, although it does not detract from the excellent storytelling. Through Georgy we learn about the murder of Rasputin, the Imperial family and the ending of the Romanov dynasty.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By S. Tuck on 3 Jan 2010
Format: Hardcover
Firstly I am no Russian historian however I went into this book knowing it was a novel so took it on that basis.
On that basis I found it a a very interesting read, the ending may not be real as others have said but who cares - read it as a novel and enjoy it rather than wasting time picking it apart!

The author did a very good job of bringing the era alive for me and the story moved along at a very good pace making me want to rush to the end but also wanting to savour it for longer. There is nothing better than a book you want to read slower to make it last but cannot do so as it occupies your mind so well - this was one of those books.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Kate Hopkins TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 22 Nov 2013
Format: Paperback
This novel is billed as 'a novel of the Romanovs'. This is in fact far from accurate - although the Romanovs, the abdication of Tsar Nicholas II and the Bolshevik Revolution are the subject of this novel, Boyne seems to know little of Russian history, and to have based his novel on the sillier and more sensationalistic films about Tsar Nicholas II and his family and court. I know that this is a novel, not a historical account, but it does seem perverse to take real people and change history and all customs of the time just to suit the novelist's plot. Boyne might have been better off setting his novel among some fictional Russian aristocrats, rather than picking Tsar Nicholas, whose life is so well documented. I couldn't see how the historical inaccuracies here suited his plot, either.

Boyne's narrator is Georgy Jachmenev, a peasant boy who, after foiling an attempt to assassinate the Grand Duke Nicolai, is rewarded by becoming bodyguard to the Tsarevich Alexei in 1915. From then on, he seems to end up being present at most of the key events in the last days of the rule of Tsar Nicholas - bad news for Georgy as few of them are pleasant, good news for Boyne and us as it means we get to read about the murder of Rasputin, the Tsar's abdication and the Romanov family's incarceration. Georgy's far-from-thrilling recounting of these events (plus his tender romance with - guess who?) are interspersed with his accounts of his life in 1979, when, as a longterm exile based in London, Georgy, retired from his job at the British Museum and facing the death of his beloved wife Zoya who fled with him from Russia first to Paris then to London, forces himself to remember his past and the great secret at the heart of his life.
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