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The Secrets We Kept

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3.92  ·  Rating details ·  1,419 ratings  ·  304 reviews
Two female spies. A banned masterpiece. A book that changed history.
________________

A BANNED MASTERPIECE

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.

TWO FEMALE SPIES

The CIA plans to use the bo
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Hardcover, 480 pages
Published September 5th 2019 by Hutchinson (first published September 3rd 2019)
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  • The Secrets We Kept by Lara Prescott
    The Secrets We Kept
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    Release date: Sep 03, 2019
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    Lara Prescott I agree with Sherry! It is a masterpiece. But if you haven't read Zhivago, you won't be lost or lacking at all while reading The Secrets We Kept.
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    Community Reviews

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    3.92  · 
    Rating details
     ·  1,419 ratings  ·  304 reviews


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    Maureen
    Sep 06, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
    Shelves: netgalley
    Lara Prescott weaves a fascinating tale of espionage during the Cold War using Boris Pasternak’s book Dr Zhivago as the basis for her debut thriller. Dr Zhivago is a book that was banned in Pasternak’s homeland - the Soviet Union. People are willing to die for this book, but on the other side of the coin there are agents prepared to kill for it too!

    Set both in the East and the West, our two main protagonists Sally Forrester and Irina Drozdov work in the CIA typing pool, a very male dominated env
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    Dorie  - Traveling Sister :)
    ***NOW AVAILABLE***

    I am going to change my rating on this book to a 3.5 rounded up to a 4 star book. I love books about spies, particularly women spies so I had really high expectations for this book. I had some problems with the flow, back and forth between what was happening with the author of Dr. Zhivago, Boris Pasternak, in the East and what was going on in the West, centering on the CIA and how it planned to use the book as a “weapon” against the Soviets.

    All in all I enjoyed this book, it
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    Tammy
    Mar 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
    Taking place during the pinnacle of the Cold War, accomplished and well educated women were relegated to the typing pool at the CIA by the old boy network while their male counterparts began careers. Two unique women whom excel at keeping secrets become spies tasked with obtaining the manuscript of Dr. Zhivago for publication in the west since the Soviet State finds the content offensive and will not publish. Moving between the east and the west there are two love stories, dangerous missions and ...more
    Chaima ✨ شيماء
    the amount of books I want to read disproportionately outweighs the available space I have for books AND the amount of money I have in my bank account 😩
    Cheri

    ”Sometimes they’d refer to us not by name but by hair color or body type: Blondie, Red, Tits. We had our secret names for them, too: Grabber, Coffee Breath, Teeth.
    “They would call us girls, but we were not.
    “We came to the Agency by way of Radcliffe, Vassar, Smith. We were the first daughters of our families to earn degrees. Some of us spoke Mandarin. Some could fly plans. Some of us could handle a Colt 1873 better than John Wayne. But all we were asked when interviewed was ‘Can you type?’”


    This
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    Kate Quinn
    Apr 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
    Got a chance to read this one for a cover quote, and I will definitely be offering one. It's terrific!
    Mark
    Aug 27, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition

    Much has been said about this book, it has been ‘hyped’ ( not a great word but its as it is ) and spoken about as ‘THE book of the year’ and various other platitudes
    The book is all about ( trying to keep this as simple as can ) Doctor Zhivago, the author of it, his lover, how the book was banned and how America managed to get the book published and into Russia ( all based on fact ) intermingled with fiction re the ‘spies’ of the 1950’s, the ‘typists’ of the American Govt, who saw all and said no
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    Literary Soirée
    NOT WW II — WHEW!
    I first saw this book, a Reese Witherspoon Book Club pick, on NetGalley and knew I had to read it. What a joy to find glorious historical fiction not set during WW II.

    COLD WAR THRILLER
    Prescott’s debut novel occurs during the Cold War, with chapters that flip between the CIA in the States and Russia — where Boris Pasternak (author of DR. ZHIVAGO) and lover Olga (inspiration for the character Lara), struggle to get his masterpiece published.

    MAGNIFICENT
    NYT critic Janet Maslin cal
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    Jill
    Jun 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

    There’s no secret that the Secrets We Kept is going to be a big hit this fall. It’s one of those books that I imagine publishers dream about – filled with true-to-life intrigue, touching upon little-known history, and presenting real-life and fictional characters that readers really care about.

    Like most people, I’ve seen the movie Dr. Zhivago multiple times and it has never failed to captivate me (interestingly, I minored in Russian literature but never read the book). Although I was aware that
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    Roman Clodia
    They had their satellites, but we had their books. Back then, we believed books could be weapons - that literature could change the course of history.

    This is a fictionalised telling of a fascinating true story that pitched the CIA in a battle against the Soviet authorities over Pasternak's Dr Zhivago. Sadly, as I'd read some of the same sources as the author (The Zhivago Affair: The Kremlin, the CIA, and the Battle over a Forbidden Book, 'The Pasternak Affair', Anna Pasternak's Lara: The Untol
    ...more
    Susan
    Sep 03, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
    This is a well written, fictional account of the way a novel, “Dr Zhivago,” became a political bombshell; used by the West as a propaganda tool. The novel begins with the arrest of Boris Pasternak’s pregnant mistress, his muse and the inspiration for Lara, Olga Ivinskaya. As Pasternak, against threats and fears of retribution, continues work on what will become his masterpiece, the West are interested in rumours of this book.

    To my mind, the parts of the novel which worked best, were the scenes f
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    switterbug (Betsey)
    I predict that Lara Prescott’s debut novel will be a smash hit. From the first sentence, at “The Agency” in D.C. in the 1950s, with the clack of the typewriter keys, the typing pool women engage us. The Agency goals are to spin subversive words into gold to spread democratic ideals. That is where the role of Dr. Zhivago comes in, a book banned in the Eastern Bloc for its critiques of the State. Intellectuals, scholars, artists and writers and were used as propaganda tools to disseminate the ideo ...more
    Michelle
    Picture Mad Men set in the early days of the CIA with an equal dose of historical fiction at the sunset of Stalin's reign over the Soviet Union. I found both sections highly engaging and couldn't flip the pages fast enough. I was a little unsure if I would like this book given that so much of it was focused on Dr. Zhivago (which I haven't read yet, but it's been on my shelf since my Russian History college days so now I will definitely read it soon), so I didn't know if a lot of it would go over ...more
    Maxine (Booklover Catlady)
    This is a beautifully written novel unlike anything I’ve read for a long while. I’m so glad I decided to try this as it’s not my usual type of read.

    Female spies. The Cold War. Communism. Secrets. Double Agents. Forbidden Books. Forbidden Love.

    Brilliantly put together, despite being fiction, a lot of this is based on fact of how the book Doctor Zhivago made it to being published when the Soviet Union had such issues with it that lives were at risk. This is the time that the country controlled it
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    Mary McBride
    Jul 19, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
    This novel took place during the Cold War and the release of the iconic novel Dr. Zhivago. Based on the true story of the author/poet Boris Pasternak and how the CIA was involved in creating unrest in the Soviet Union.
    Makes me want to read Dr. Zhivago...
    Alyson
    Aug 08, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
    I didn't know anything about Boris Pasternak, so this was a great historical fiction pick for me. My favorite sections were those about the amazing women of the typing pool!
    Maine Colonial
    Jul 31, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
    Shelves: novel, espionage, cold-war
    I received a free publisher’s advance review copy.

    We’re all familiar with the political Cold War, but what’s less well known is the cultural Cold War. The USSR and the US battled for cultural supremacy, using the arts as their weapons.

    The CIA seized upon Boris Pasternak’s Doctor Zhivago as the ultimate weapon in this war. Pasternak wasn’t allowed to publish his book in the USSR because the state viewed it as anti-Soviet. The CIA obtained a smuggled copy and not only used it as their source for a
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    JanB
    DNF’d at 38%

    I was expecting a suspenseful spy novel, but what I got was thinly disguised romance/chick-lit. It's all too common with historical fiction in recent years, and why I struggle with the genre.

    The love affair between Pasternak and Olga left me cold, the alternating narratives in the West chapters were confusing, the secretarial pool characters lacked depth, and the writing style was simplistic. Frankly, I was bored silly.
    Latkins
    Jul 06, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
    This compelling novel tells the true story of how Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak was smuggled out of and back into the USSR in the 1950s, as part of the CIA's cold war efforts. It concentrates on the life of Boris's long-term mistress Olga Ivinskaya, who was sent to a gulag for many years by the Soviet government, and also on the lives of two female American spies. As well as highlighting the harsh and terrifying conditions in the USSR, it also explores the toxic masculinity of America's inte ...more
    Sarah
    Jul 21, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
    Shelves: e-arcs
    Thank you to the publisher, via Edelweiss, for providing me with an arc of this book.

    The Secrets we Kept starts off interesting, with the collective voice of the typists setting the stage for what's to come. The true story of the publication of Doctor Zhivago is fascinating, and the focus of much of the book, with slight detours into story lines of fictional characters.
    I would've happily read about Boris and Olga, or have enjoyed fleshed out stories of Sally, Irina, and Teddy but all of these p
    ...more
    Sarah
    May 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
    Spies, secret police, a banned book, two gorgeous love stories - this book has everything. It's a totally absorbing and suspenseful read that's also asking big questions about love and loyalty, art and ambition, and what it means to live your life in the shadows. Definitely a must-read!!
    Nicole Jarvis
    Jan 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
    Shelves: 5-star
    I loved this book! The characters are all so vivid, from the more minor narrators to a brilliantly-done first person plural narrator. I’ve never seen or read Dr. Zhivago, but this makes me want to. What a fascinating story behind its publication! I love female-centric looks at history (especially one that includes a queer love story), and this does a masterful job at a fast-paced narrative. Highly recommended!
    Samantha
    Well written, great story idea, but the character and plot development felt very superficial.
    Sue Seligman
    Sep 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
    When this book was announced as the new pick by Reese Witherspoon, I checked out the summary and decided to request it at the library. As a huge fan of historical fiction, my favorite books are usually set during World War I and World War II as well as more recent contemporary history. I had not read too many books set during the Cold War, with the recent exception of The Chelsea Girls by Fiona Davis (another excellent read)! I was intrigued by the thought of a book centered around the publicati ...more
    Cathy
    Alternating between events either side of the Iron Curtain over a number of decades and incorporating multiple points of view, the structure of the book does require some concentration on the part of the reader. However, the effort will be amply rewarded.

    There are some clever touches. I especially liked the chapters told from the collective point of view of ‘The Typists’, the members of the CIA typing pool. Equally as intelligent (and in many cases, more intelligent) than the male employees of t
    ...more
    Bri
    Sep 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
    A thrilling and tragic love story took place during the height of the Cold War.

    The Secrets We Kept is based on Boris Pasternak’s famous ‘Doctor Zhivago’ and the chaos behind it. Lara Prescott does an incredible job with the outline and plot of the novel. This story is told in a collection of first-person narratives. We meet Boris Pasternak, his mistress Olga, two female spies Irina and Sally, Teddy and ‘The Typists’. The structure of the novel was my favorite part of it. I loved being able to un
    ...more
    Linda Romer
    Aug 27, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
    Shelves: reviews
    I really liked The Secrets We Keep. I haven't read Doctor Zhivago yet, but after reading this I will soon. I think this was a powerful read about the Author Boris Pasternak who's novel wasn't able to be published in the USSR. An endearing story about his life, the story of how his novel came to be published and the consequences that took place. This book also talks about the lives of woman spies and what they had to endure at this time. the book also talks about discrimination of the LGBTQ commu ...more
    Andrea
    Jul 30, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
    3. A dual timeline, which I like. Different because not past and present, but same-starting in 1950s-Washington, D.C. and Soviet Union. And though I wasn't yet in D.C. at that time, I believe Prescott did her research well [for the most part-some of the gegraphic connections might be a bit off-locations and timing didnt seem quite right in a couple of instances [when going from one location to another--though I could be wrong].

    The setting. "It’s the dawn of the Cold War, and words have been weap
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    Tiffany
    “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 for
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    Tina Panik
    This strong premise of female secretaries-as-spies begins to erode once the Russian target is identified. The alternating narratives are confusing, and the climax is not as rewarding as the set up.

    This was an ARC from BookExpo NYC.
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    Goodreads Librari...: Combine Editions - "The Secrets We Kept" by Lara Prescott 2 16 Jul 29, 2019 12:45AM  
    320 followers
    Lara Prescott's debut novel, THE SECRETS WE KEPT, is out September 3, 2019 from Alfred A. Knopf (US) and Hutchinson (UK), and will be translated into 29 languages.

    Lara received her MFA from the Michener Center for Writers at the University of Texas in 2018. She grew up in Pennsylvania and studied political science at American University in Washington, D.C. Prior to writing fiction, Lara worked as
    ...more
    “I wanted them to take a good hard look at a system that had allowed the State to kill off any writer, any intellectual—hell, even any meteorologist—they disagreed with.” 1 likes
    “If you were to come to Headquarters and see a woman in a smart green tweed suit following a man into his office or a woman wearing red heels and a matching angora sweater at reception, you might've assumed these women were typists or secretaries; and you would've been right. But you would have also been wrong. Secretary: a person entrusted with a secret. From the Latin secretus, secretum. We all typed, but some of us did more. We spoke no word of the work we did after we covered our typewriters each day. Unlike some of the men, we could keep our secrets.” 0 likes
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