BookBrowse Reviews The Secrets We Kept by Lara Prescott

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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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    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Sep 2019, 368 pages
    Paperback:
    Jun 2020, 368 pages

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In this electrifying debut based on a true story, two CIA secretaries are tasked with smuggling Boris Pasternak's novel Dr. Zhivago out of the Soviet Union at the height of the Cold War.

This thrilling historical novel by Lara Prescott received a stellar rating of 4.7 stars from our First Impressions reviewers.

What it's about:
Spanning the Cold War period of 1949-1961, in Russia, the United States and Europe, this novel sheds light on Boris Pasternak, his mistress Olga Ivinskaya and the novel Dr. Zhivago, for which Olga served as a muse, influencing the character of Lara. At the same time we gain insights into the CIA of the 1950s (referred to as "the agency") through the eyes of its female typists and two female spies. Lara Prescott uses a variety of narrators to reveal an unfolding story of love, desperation, government repression and the undermining of the Soviet Union through Dr. Zhivago. Ultimately it is truly about secrets kept. Well researched and beautifully written (Mary L).

Many readers enjoyed learning the details of this fascinating historical event:
I confess, I stayed up nights reading this one! It delved into one aspect of the Cold War I was never aware of before – and what an interesting piece of history it is. Who would have thought that the CIA would find Boris Pasternak's Dr. Zhivago to be a great propaganda tool (Kathrin C).  Lara Prescott's research and access to historical documents make this a fascinating book (Jeanne W). What a delicious, refreshing historical fiction novel from a debut author, who obviously put her 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 (Vicky R). While I have enjoyed everything I have read through BookBrowse, this was definitely my favorite...a must read for any historical fiction buff, especially those with an interest in Russian-US relations (Mark S).

Prescott's characters were appreciated for their complexity and nuance:
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, with 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 (Tiffany V). Lara Prescott does a wonderful job making these three women come alive (Jeanne W).

For some reviewers, the book brought back fond memories of reading Dr. Zhivago or watching the film adaptation:
In 1965 when Doctor Zhivago the movie was released I was a teenager, newly in love with my future husband. I saw the beautiful Lara and her love for Zhivago and never knew the story behind its publication or of Boris Pasternak and his love Olga. I probably would not have believed the CIA's involvement! (Esther L). A novel comes along every once in a while where one regrets reaching the end. This is truly one of those. This historic background 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 (Ann B). I highly recommend this book! I'm looking forward to rereading Dr. Zhivago soon (Lynn D).

Readers can't wait to see what this debut author does next, and plan to reread The Secrets We Kept with their book club in the meantime:
Lara Prescott is a talent and I, for one, will look eagerly to her next venture (Ann B). I was duly impressed with this author and look forward to reading more by her (Kristin H). I am eager to introduce The Secrets We Kept to my book club after it is published, and know we will have a very interesting discussion. I predict this will be one of the best books of 2019 (Betty B).

This review was originally published in The BookBrowse Review in September 2019, and has been updated for the August 2020 edition. Click here to go to this issue.

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Beyond the Book:
  Dr. Zhivago, the Movie

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