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The Secrets We Kept

A novel

by Lara Prescott

The Secrets We Kept by Lara Prescott X
The Secrets We Kept by Lara Prescott
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  • First Published:
    Sep 2019, 368 pages
    Paperback:
    Jun 2020, 368 pages

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Anl

Fascinating concept
And yes I am old enough to have seen Dr. Zhivago on the big screen. And read the book. And lived through the cold war spirit of the times. And the Russian regimes. So the book had an identifying interest to me. Her approach to the events and characters is very well done. I did think the book could have been about 2/3 the length. I found myself saying “okay i got this concept, let’s move on.” And I did giggle at how often the typists could afford to eat out at a restaurant. I recommend you at least see the movie before reading this book. It is a timeless piece, just like Sound of Music or Gone with the Wind.
Tiffany V. (Colora, MD)

Never underestimate a woman...
"In a man's world, women are the perfect spies."

What an exceptionally fitting tagline for Lara Prescott's enthralling novel set in the Cold War era! Told from multiple points of view, this story takes us from the deceptive calm of typing pool of the CIA to the warm hearth of Boris Pasternak's cottage as he and his muse discuss his latest masterpiece, Doctor Zhivago, unaware of the fate that would befall them because of it. The women of this story are far and above the masterminds, the moving forces, and the backbone of everything that transpires. It was absolutely a stunning page-turner of historical fiction, meticulously researched, and characters so masterfully fleshed out that you forget the "fiction" aspect entirely. When I closed the final pages, I was not ready to leave Olga, Sally, Irina, and the typists behind, despite the satisfying endings. Definitely one of my favorite reads of 2019!

Five heart-wrenching stars and a huge thank you to Book Browse, Lara Prescott, and A. A Knopf Publishing for supplying me with this advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.
Lynn D. (Kingston, NY)

There are a lot of secrets
The Secrets We Kept is a fast paced historical novel about the writing of Dr. Zhivago, by Boris Pasternak, and the complicated and dangerous struggle to get it published internationally and in the USSR during the Cold War. We meet the women typing pool at The Agency, which played a key role in distributing the banned book. These chapters are set in The West. Other chapters are set in The East where we follow Pasternak and his muse/lover Olga, as she suffers for her loyalty to the writer. The story is told from multiple points of view, which is not hard to follow, partly because of the chapter titles which hint at the various roles the women must play to keep their secrets. Prescott succeeds in capturing the sense of the late 1950's, with its societal constraints and expectations. I highly recommend this book! I'm looking forward to re-reading Dr. Zhivago soon.
Mark S. (Blauvelt, NY)

Hooked on page 1
While I have enjoyed everything I have read through BookBrowse, this was definitely my favorite. Instead of the gradual/slow beginning that can sometimes plague even a great plot, Prescott jumped right into the story. I enjoyed her style, the way she developed the principal characters, and the unique timeline. At times, it reminded me of the structure of Catch-22 (minus the dark satire). This was not a book to read chapter by chapter; I read this in huge chunks at a time. As a teacher, I found myself flagging excerpts that I could use to make connections to other texts, and I plan to share this possibility with our social studies teachers as well. I can definitely see it being a hit with any book club, and a must read for any historical fiction buff, especially those with an interest in Russian-US relations.
John Aufderheide

The Secrets We Kept
I had the good fortune of hearing Lara Prescott present an abbreviated synopsis of her wonderful book, The Secrets We Kept, at the University of Texas, Austin. This book of historical fiction is even better than her excellent talk.

The book is a multifaceted story centered around the dissemination of Boris Pasternak's masterpiece novel, Dr. Zhivago, initially to the west and then back into the Soviet Union. This involves the work of many parties, including an Italian working at Radio Moscow, a filthy rich Italian nouveau publisher, the CIA, Pasternak's mistress, and almost accidentally Pasternak himself.

The book goes back and forth from East to West with Pasternak and his mistress Olga (the muse for Lara in Dr. Zhivago) featured in the East and the CIA and its agents heading the activities in the West. The characters are extremely well portrayed on both sides of the Iron Curtain. There is also an interesting subplot involving two of the female CIA operatives that illustrates the difficulties faced by those who strayed from the very rigid norms of the day.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who liked Dr. Zhivago, either book or movie, and/or A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles. Those who are interested in the history of the Soviet Union, the cold war, and the CIA would also probably enjoy this book.
Power Reviewer
Kristen H. (Hagerstown, MD)

Can't Keep This a Secret
Upon receiving the book I thought that this would be the story of espionage during the cold war between US and Russia. I had no idea that it would be regarding the novel Dr. Zhivago and how the author had to turn down any monies or royalties from the book. I had no idea that it was not to be published in Russia during Stalin's time. I had read the book and seen the movie, however this novel sheds a whole new light on the backstory of the author who wrote the book. I was duly impressed with this author and look forward to reading more by her.
Vicky R. (Roswell, GA)

Refreshing historical fiction
What a delicious, refreshing historical fictional novel from a debut author, who obviously put his heart and soul into the research and writing. A combination of love story and espionage set during the Cold War makes for a fascinating story. The background of the struggle to have Doctor Zhivago published was a surprise for me and I enjoyed every minute of this eye-opening reading experience. Thank you BookBrowse.
Ann B. (Bethlehem, PA)

A Back Story to Die For
A novel comes along every once in a while that one regrets it reaching an end. This is truly one of them. This historic back story to one of the most famous modern love stories in literature is extremely convincing and heartbreaking. Doctor Zhivago enlightened many generations in the movie theater, and The Secrets We Kept will take us back again to view the classic film. Lara Prescott is a talent and I, for one, will look eagerly to her next venture.

Beyond the Book:
  Dr. Zhivago, the Movie

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