The House of Special Purpose

  • by John Boyne
  • Narrated by Richard Teverson
  • 17 hrs and 38 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Russia, 1915: At the age of 16, Georgy Jachmenev steps in front of an assassin's bullet intended for a senior member of the Russian Imperial Family and 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.

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What the Critics Say

"Absorbing and richly satisfying." (The Times)
Boyne's novel... is a work that chimes perfectly with our times. (Irish Times)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Russian history spliced with romantic fantasy

The book switches back and forth in time through the voice of 82 year old Georgy who in 1981 looks back on his life as his wife, Zoya, lies dying from cancer in a London hospital. Real events in Russian history are mixed with a romantic fantasy following the life of a boy from a village in Russia who, through a quirk of fate becomes a companion to the Romanov heir to the Russian throne.

The story does jump about a lot between the time around the 1917 Russian Revolution, Paris in the 1920s, the second World war and post war London. Mostly I thought the time-shifts detracted from the power of the story but late into the book there is a surprise revelation that made me realise why the author had used this narrative device.

Generally I enjoyed the book but there are some very slow passages with long dialogues between characters delivered in a breathy and ponderous style.
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- Kirstine

Simply amazing

The story is great and this book is one of the few books you can enjoy over and over again
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- Lindner Silvana

Book Details

  • Release Date: 09-09-2009
  • Publisher: ISIS Audio Books