The House of a Special Purpose
(Other Press, April 2013)
From the author of The Absolutist, a propulsive novel of the Russian Revolution and the fate of the Romanovs.
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.
“John Boyne’s novel is a tour de force, at once epic and intimate, and above all a marvelous read.” —John Banville, author of Ancient Light and The Sea, winner of the Booker Prize
“Narrator Georgy Daniilovich Jachmenev reviews his long life, from being household of Czar Nicholas II to his post-retirement years in London…Boyne re-creates both Georgy’s personal life and the life of pre-Revolutionary Russia with astonishing density and power.” —Kirkus (starred review)
“[Boyne] skillfully evokes the wrenching pain of loss and exile while presenting a tribute to enduring love.” —Booklist
“In this richly textured, audaciously imagined alternate history John Boyne chronicles a long and complex marriage forged out of the turmoil of the Russian Revolution. Georgy and Zoya are a memorable pair of lovers, and as this ingeniously structured narrative takes us deeper and deeper into their shared past, our understanding of their unremarkable present is increasingly colored by the extraordinary secrets, regrets and guilt they carry within them.” —Paul Russell, author of The Unreal Life of Sergey Nabokov