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.
I really enjoyed this book. I liked the way the author decided to tell his tale. The story is told by Georgy and when we first meet him, he is in his early eighties. In the next chapter, Georgy is sixteen and an unpredictable event occurs that changes his life forever. In alternating chapters, older Georgy’s story moves back in time while younger Georgy’s story moves forward. We eventually get to the point where the two story lines meet and all secrets are revealed.
I couldn’t wait to find out what was meant by “the house of special purpose”. The author does a great job of giving just enough detail in each chapter to keep the reader engaged. Young Georgy’a story is based during the final years of the Romanovs, a period in history I have always found fascinating. I don’t want to ruin it for readers of the book, but this plays a significant part in the story.
As always, I am sad when I have come to the end of such an entertaining book. The good part though is that this is a new author for me. Mr. Boyne has numerous other books published, and if The House of Special Purpose is an indication of his writing, I have a whole batch of books to add to my TBR list.
I would like to thank Other Press, via Netgalley, for allowing me to read this in exchange for an unbiased review. Lucky me.
Published date: April 2, 2013