The House of Special Purpose: Book summary and reviews of The House of Special Purpose by John Boyne

The House of Special Purpose

By John Boyne

The House of Special Purpose
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  • Published in USA  Apr 2013,
    480 pages.

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Book Summary

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.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"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." - Publishers Weekly

"Starred Review. Boyne re-creates both Georgy's personal life and the life of pre-Revolutionary Russia with astonishing density and power." - Kirkus

"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

"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

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Author Information

John Boyne Author Biography

Photo: John Boyne

I was born in Dublin, Ireland, in 1971, and studied English Literature at Trinity College, Dublin, and creative writing at the University of East Anglia, Norwich, where I was awarded the Curtis Brown prize.

My early writing consisted mostly of short stories, and I published a number of them. My first story, The Entertainments Jar, was shortlisted for the Hennessy Literary Award in Ireland. In total, I've published about 70 short stories.

My 2006 novel, The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, was made into an award-winning Miramax film. The novel itself won 2 Irish Book Awards, the Bisto Book of the Year, and was shortlisted or won a host of international awards. Amongst other accolades, it spent more than 80 weeks at no.1 in Ireland, topped the New York Times Bestseller List, and was the ...

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