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The House of Special Purpose

Narrated by: Richard Teverson
Length: 17 hrs and 38 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (10 ratings)

Non-member price: $33.10

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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.

©2009 John Boyne (P)2009 Isis Publishing Ltd

Critic Reviews

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

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Fantastic book!

Beautifully written and narrated - just as good as The Heart’s Invisible Furies! A fabulous read!

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Kathy-Jane
  • 19-05-2019

It's A Love Story

I found it hard to know what to say about this book. It was not at all what I expected. At some points the story dragged and then it became predictable about 2/3 in. I get pretty annoyed when a story's ending or secret is realized before it ends; I tend to stop listening. But this story did hold me and towards the end I couldn't stop listening. I thought of the book long after it was finished.

The book is beautifully written and an amazing story based on a real tragedy. I do very much like this author.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Kirstine
  • 13-07-2015

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.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • A.Connor
  • 19-01-2018

awful, hackneyed .. had to stop reading :(

‘The Heart’s Invisible Furies’ remains one of my most treasured reads ever, ‘momentous. Ive no idea how the same writer could produce this..
Bit by bit in the earliest chapters a creeping suspicion develops - ‘He’s not going to go *there* is he, surely not..? He does & it’s a lazy, hackneyed plot. Im disappointed. After T.H.I.F Id envisaged collecting all of his & being diverted / thrilled to bits. I wouldnt however, risk another after this. Narrator’s perfectly ok - if you enjoy your treacle earnest..

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Lindner Silvana
  • 24-02-2015

Simply amazing

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

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Sarah Bland
  • 28-05-2019

Epic!

Loved it. Learnt lots of period history, and it was a great story. Definitely recommend.

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  • Gabby
  • 21-04-2019

Wonderful

Absolutely love this book, beautifully read and very engaging. Wonderfully powerful and immensely emotional. Just a very very good read

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  • Vampvision
  • 22-11-2018

Evocative novel of love and loss

I don't think John Boyne is capable of writing a novel that doesn't stay with you for ever. This is no exception. It's a slow burner but I just loved the way it gently weaves an epic story of a very special couple around historical events. The narrator has a beautiful voice but I was slightly destabilized by the use of different voices for the same central character but took this to signify the different stages of his life. The use of regional accents from the UK in Russian characters was an interesting dramatic tool too. Another Boyne that I was sad to finish.

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  • esther curry
  • 22-04-2018

A sad and heartwarming tale

A well narrated evocative story of old Russia. I was captivated by this beautiful love story weaving back and forth through the young mans life. I found it quite moving

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  • Faye
  • 26-03-2018

Loved this book

I really loved this book, a really compelling story which gripped me to the end.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • ALISON
  • 07-10-2017

entertaining

the crux of the book is a little unbelievable perhaps, but a good story with interesting historical information.

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  • Marie
  • 14-07-2017

Pronunciation tzar Nicholas etc

Wonderful if only the Russian pronunciation of names were accurate. I do not need English spoken with heavy pseudo Russian accent is the names are incorrectly pronounced. Anastasia in English is Ana STA sia. But in Russian it is Anansta SEE a. It grated on my ear every time rest good

1 of 3 people found this review helpful