The House of Special Purpose by John Boyne
Russia, 1915: At the age of 16, Georgy Jachmenev steps in front of an assassins bullet intended for the heart of a senior member of the Russian Imperial Family. He 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.
Privy to the secrets of Nicholas and Alexandra, the machinations of Rasputin and the events which led to the final collapse of the autocracy, Georgy is both a witness and participant in a drama which will echo down the century.
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.
Part love story, part historical epic, part tragedy, the novel moves from revolutionary St Petersburg to Paris after the First World War, and from London during the Blitz to the eastern coast of Finland during the 1980s, before returning to a quiet hospital bed where Georgy and Zoyas story must finally be resolved.