Tuesday, July 7, 2009


Pages: 428
Date: 07/07/2009
Grade: 4

This will be a difficult review for me to write. I'm not entirely sure how I'm going to summarize the plot or explain what was for me the one big downfall of this book without spoiling it for other readers.
I think, I'll end up with two versions of this review. The one here, in my blog, will have to be vague in order to keep the book's secrets. On paper though, where I write just for me, I will go into more detail.
It is 1980 and Georgy Jachmenev is spending his days in London visiting his dying wife Zoya in hospital. As he does so, his memories take him back to his youth in Russia and the turbulent times, early in the 20th century.
Born to a poor farm labourer and barely aware there is a world outside his village, Georgy's life changes dramatically when he steps in front of a bullet and saves the life of a senior member of the Russian Royal Family.
A week later, Georgy finds himself in the Royal Court in St. Petersburg, employed as a bodyguard to Alexei Romanov, the ill heir to the throne.
And so start an exciting couple of years during which Georgy learns the ways of royalty, falls in love, meets Rasputin and is there when it all ends in a nightmare.
I loved the descriptions of life at the Russian Court, but was less impressed with the, much shorter, sections about Paris and London.
And then there was the fact that I spend about half the book wishing for something not to turn out a certain way, only for my fears to be confirmed.
Still, John Boyne is a good writer and reading this book was no hardship even if it did turn out slightly disappointing.

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