15 December 2021

The House of Special Purpose


By John Boyne
Historical Fiction | Literary Fiction

My Review

A 2021 Top Rated Read

When 16-year-old farmer's son Georgy Jachmenev unwittingly saves the life of a senior member of the Russian Imperial Family, his life changes forever. Hailed a hero, he's taken from his impoverished rural village to the opulent Winter Palace in St Petersburg where he becomes bodyguard to Alexei Romanov, heir of Tsar Nicholas II. 

Within the confines of the Palace he falls hopelessly in love with Alexei's sister, the Grand Duchess Anastasia. But, owing to his lowly status, their romance must be conducted in secret. In 1917 civil unrest leads to the downfall of the increasingly unpopular House of Romanov and once more Georgy's life is thrown into turmoil and upheaval. 

I thought this book was fantastic and loved how it combined fact with fiction. Exceptionally well-researched and exquisitely written, I was enthralled from beginning to end. Told through an alternating timeline, the story cleverly works its way backwards from Georgy's life as an old man in London to his early years with the Russian Imperial Family. It's a life filled with hardship, love and tragedy; yet incredibly honest, raw and emotional. It's a beautiful story that will stay with me for a very long time. One of my favourite reads of 2021.                

Book Source: Purchased copy
My rating ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Paperback: 496 pages
Publisher: Black Swan (15th April 2010)
ISBN-13: 978-0552775410

The Blurb

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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