Author: Lara Prescott
Genre: Literary Fiction, Historical Fiction, Mystery
Published: September 3. 2019
Book Description: A thrilling tale of secretaries turned spies, of love and duty, and of sacrifice–inspired by the true story of the CIA plot to infiltrate the hearts and minds of Soviet Russia, not with propaganda, but with the greatest love story of the twentieth century: Doctor Zhivago.
At the height of the Cold War, two secretaries are pulled out of the typing pool at the CIA and given the assignment of a lifetime. Their mission: to smuggle Doctor Zhivago out of the USSR, where no one dare publish it, and help Pasternak’s magnum opus make its way into print around the world. Glamorous and sophisticated Sally Forrester is a seasoned spy who has honed her gift for deceit all over the world–using her magnetism and charm to pry secrets out of powerful men. Irina is a complete novice, and under Sally’s tutelage quickly learns how to blend in, make drops, and invisibly ferry classified documents.
The Secrets We Kept combines a legendary literary love story–the decades-long affair between Pasternak and his mistress and muse, Olga Ivinskaya, who was sent to the Gulag and inspired Zhivago’s heroine, Lara–with a narrative about two women empowered to lead lives of extraordinary intrigue and risk. From Pasternak’s country estate outside Moscow to the brutalities of the Gulag, from Washington, D.C. to Paris and Milan, The Secrets We Kept captures a watershed moment in the history of literature–told with soaring emotional intensity and captivating historical detail. And at the center of this unforgettable debut is the powerful belief that a piece of art can change the world.
Rating: 4 1/2 Stars
Review: I personally started to hear hype on this book months ago and and requested a galley which I was lucky enough to get. Unfortunately life gets in the way and I did not get a chance to read it, until I saw Reese Witherspoon pick this for her Book Club. I decided I would treat myself and buy a copy and I am so glad I did.
This is Lara Prescott’s Debut novel and feels like she has been writing like an extremely tenured author. She brought to life a story I did not really know existed. While this is historical fiction, as I researched this, I felt this was more fact than fiction.
The Secret’s We Kept centers around the book Doctor Zhivago. This book was considered anti-communist at the time and Russia refused to publish this, and wreaked havoc on the author and his loved ones. It becomes the mission of the United States to smuggle the book out to not only publish in English, but also Russian.
While there are many character’s and points of view, the two central characters are Irina, a woman who was born in the US to Russian Parents and Olga, Boris Pasternak’s mistress. Irina is a typist in DC who really is the central figure to help recover this book. Olga, protects Pasternak’s story which puts her in labor camps and fears for her life going forward.
What Prescott put together was a story that does not fit into one genre. This will be a book many people will love. The book is easy to read, yet was a meaty story. I thoroughly enjoyed this story, and learned so much that I am going to read Doctor Zhivago next. I am just not quite ready to leave this world.
Thank you NetGalley and Knopf for an Advanced Reader’s Copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.