Book Of The Month April, 2010
The House of Special PurposeJohn Boyne
Russia, 1915: Sixteen year old farmer s son 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. Rewarded with the position of bodyguard to Alexei Romanov, the only son of Tsar Nicholas II, the course of his life is changed for ever. Privy to the secrets of Nicholas and Alexandra, the machinations of Rasputin and the events which will lead to the final collapse of the autocracy, Georgy is both a witness and participant in a drama that will echo down the century. Sixty-five years later, visiting his wife Zoya as she lies in a London hospital, memories of the life they have lived together flood his mind. And with them, the consequences of the brutal fate of the Romanovs which has hung like a shroud over every aspect of their marriage
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What We Think
John Boyne about his book The House of Special Purpose:
My previous two novels were narrated by children – a 9 year old and 14 year old respectively – so when I began THE HOUSE OF SPECIAL PURPOSE I knew that I wanted a break from this and so I began chapter one with the voice of an 82 year old Russian emigre in London, a man for whom English is not his first language and who therefore speaks in a rather formal and elegant style.
The novel takes place over more than sixty years, following the journey of Georgy, a young peasant from his wood-framed hut in the farmlands of Russia to the Winter Palace of Tsar Nicholas II, where he becomes a bodyguard-companion to the Tsarevich Alexei and onwards to Paris and London between 1920 and 1980, as Georgy and his wife Zoya leave behind the dramatic events of the Russian Revolution but are never fully able forget them.
I’d never written a love story before and at its heart, that’s what this novel is. Georgy and Zoya are a couple who have been through many traumas together but their affection and loyalty to each other marks their relationship and maintains the strength at its core.
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