The Secrets We Kept by Lara Prescott

The Secrets We Kept by Lara Prescott
Publisher: Knopf
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length (325 pgs)
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

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.
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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.

The story of how Dr. Zhivago was published. You won’t believe it.

This is the first novel by Lara Prescott and it reads like a first novel. I loved the cover and the idea of a book about the writing and publication of Dr. Zhivago had my attention. The writing flows well enough, but this book didn’t quite grab me in the way I’d expected. The characters are plenty and at times it was hard to keep them straight. I did have a few characters I really liked and they showed up about halfway through, so that kept me reading.

There were moments when the story was tedious and I got lost. I admit I put this book down more than once and struggled to get back to it. The switching between story lines was a tad confusing and irritating when I wanted to follow one or the other. It was jarring to go back and forth.

The woman who is the inspiration for Lara is interesting. I liked Sally and her situation with Irina. This kept me reading.

This might not have been the perfect book for me, but it might work well for you. If you want to read about the publishing of Dr. Zhivago or the craziness during the cold war, then this might be what you’re looking for. Give it a try.

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