‘The Secrets We Kept’ is Lara Prescott’s debut novel.
1956. A celebrated Russian author is writing a book, Doctor Zhivago, which could spark dissent in the Soviet Union. The Soviets, afraid of its subversive power, ban it. But in the rest of the world it’s fast becoming a sensation. In Washington DC, the CIA is planning to use the book to tip the Cold War in its favour. Their agents are not the usual spies, however. Two typists – the charming, experienced Sally and the talented novice Irina – are charged with the mission of a lifetime: to smuggle Doctor Zhivago back into Russia by any means necessary. It will not be easy. There are people prepared to die for this book – and agents willing to kill for it. But they cannot fail – as this book has the power to change history.
This book was quite the gripping thriller from the start with strong female leads, that really pull the reader in.
In this spy story, we see the what it was like to be a spy during the 1950’s, the repercussions, the drama and the dangers that being a spy involves. The story is seen from the narrative of women working as typists in ‘the Agency’ in America and on the other side of the world, there are the women who share their lives and views with the Russian author, Boris Pasternak: the man who wrote ‘Doctor Zhivago’.
The book was banned in Pasternak’s homeland, the USSR, but a plot by CIA operatives enables the manuscript to be smuggled out to Italy and published worldwide, leading to Pasternak being awarded the Nobel Prize for the book in 1958.
The novel primarily concentrates on the lives of two women, Irina and Sally, working in the CIA typing pool but who are also trained as spies. There was also the narrative from Pasternak’s lover Olga Ivinskaya, who went to prison for 3 years for her involvement with him.
Spanning over my years and seen through multiple perspectives, this book is the ideal story for history lovers and combines the right amount of history, intrigue and romance to keep the reader fully engaged in the story. Thoroughly researched and atmospheric with the intense locations, ‘The Secrets We Kept’ is a story of love and war and is quite a compelling debut.
Through the eyes of a number of different characters, the story of the book which caused such a worldwide sensation in the 1950s, the role of foreign agents in disseminating the work to the people, both in Mother Russia and abroad, and the impact of its international success on the author and those close to him, is gradually unravelled and as it is it seeps under your skin and enthrals you
You can buy ‘The Secrets We Kept’ from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops