The Secrets We Kept

The Secrets We Kept

A Novel

Large Print - 2019
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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.
Publisher: [New York] :, Random House Large Print,, ©2019.
Edition: First large print edition.
ISBN: 9780593168141
Branch Call Number: LPE FICTION PRE
Characteristics: xi, 477 pages (large print) ; 24 cm


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The Cold War, spies, and the mission to save a famous manuscript.

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Oct 12, 2020

The Secrets We Kept by Lara Prescott stands as an interesting and delightful book. The story of Boris Pasternak’s struggle to have Doctor Zhivago published, especially in Russia, amazed me. The fictional rendering of the period of 1949 through 1961 brought back memories of those turbulent years when women fought to gain independence and equality in the workplace. The women who began in government jobs as merely typists but proved that women could be trusted with secrets better than their male counterparts. The brutally of the Russian leaders in exploiting writers. So much pain and suffering to write one novel that won the Nobel Peace Prize. Prescott presents two fictional women and their part in publishing Doctor Zhivago in English. The Brussels 1958 World Fair supposedly began the journey of secretly passing Doctor Zhivago into Russia. The plight of Pasternak’s mistress, Olga Ivinskaya, brings tears to the eye. That any woman would endure her imprisonment for Pasternak. The book compels the reader the continue the story.

Sep 27, 2020

I loved it! The structure is odd because it has multiple narrators and the narrative isn't straightforward, so you have to pay attention to the details to know whose story you're reading. But once you figure that out it makes for a compelling read. Part fiction and real life intrigue, this book has sparked my interest in knowing more about Boris Pasternak and Doctor Zhivago.

Aug 17, 2020

Looks really interesting!

Jun 13, 2020

This is a story that tells a worthy true tale as to how the West won the cultural tug-of-war with Soviet Russia over the publication of Boris Pasternak’s novel Dr. Zhivago during the Cold War years of the 1950s. It’s a lengthy read with a bunch of different narrators telling their part of the story. However, for my taste there were too many sub-plots and quasi-plotlets that diverted me, the reader, from the main story. Yet there are moments that enthral and moments that are heart-rending. In my mind, I keep coming back to the fact that this is a fictional version of a true and important story that deserves to be told, and a time that should not be forgotten.

Mar 15, 2020

Read over a hundred pages and gave up due to boredom.

Feb 21, 2020

This is a brilliant debut novel from Lara Prescott. Surprisingly, given that it is based on the history of how Doctor Zhivago came to be published and circulated with the aid of Western intelligence, the book still has some of the unexpected plot twists one expects in a spy novel.
The novel reminds us that even after Stalin’s death and the thaw under Khrushchev, the Soviet Union remained very much a police state. Pasternak’s mistress, Olga Iviinskaya, along with her daughter, were prisoners in the Gulag, the mother for the second time, when Khrushchev was in power, punishing them for the publication of Pasternak’s novel as the Soviet state dared not punish Pasternak himself. “Doctor Zhivago”, although widely circulated, wasn’t actually officially published in the Soviet Union until the glasnost regime of Mikhail Gorbachev was under way.
Ms. Prescott doesn’t speak Russian herself. Interestingly, all Russian words are introduced without italics, which doesn’t really cause any problems. The only mistake I noticed was this, on p.83: “a babki was brought in with knitting needles to perform the abortion.” “Babka” (бáбка) is the word for grandmother, which makes sense in this context; “babki” (бáбки) is the plural, which doesn’t.

Jan 27, 2020

Great read. Pasternak' novel smuggled.

Jan 06, 2020

Just picked this book up as I passed by the shelf. I've been reading novels about women and war recently. Enjoyed it much more than I'd expected. There is a note of claustrophobia surrounding the typing pool, but maybe that's how the spy game goes. I think this is a good, well-written story with just the right historical overtones. After reading this book, I immediately "googled" Boris Pasternak for more info on the publication of "Dr. Zhivago". In 1967, my senior of high school, I read Dr. Z and was not impressed. How very fascinating to learn, a few years later, of the efforts made to publish it, less than 10 year before I'd make my book report. Anyway, this book, The Secrets We Keep, I would recommend for it's history, characters, humanity, and cohesive writing. Try it.

JCLS_Ashland_Kristin Dec 30, 2019

An espionage tale overlapping with the origin story of Doctor Zhivago. Fascinating.

Dec 15, 2019

Pretty good.... I had hoped it would have been a bit more thrilling, focusing mostly on intel missions and the way they weave that with their personal lives. It was much more slow moving, not very much action. Enjoyable enough.

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