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The secrets we kept
2019
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Summary
A HELLO SUNSHINE x REESE WITHERSPOON BOOK CLUB PICK

A thrilling tale of secretaries turned spies, of love and duty, and of sacrifice--the real-life 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 dares 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, DC, 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 centre of this unforgettable debut is the powerful belief that a piece of art can change the world.
Trade Reviews
Booklist Review
Spy stories offer high reader appeal, and Prescott's debut far surpasses the typical genre fare. In her novel, set during the post-WWII Cold War era, East seldom meets West, but events in each influence the other deeply. Through extensive research, Prescott artfully illuminates the CIA's role in helping disseminate the Soviet-banned Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak. That novel, smuggled into and printed in Italy, found wide acclaim and earned its author a Nobel Prize. Meanwhile, as the Soviets launch satellites and chase scientific discoveries, the CIA takes a literary approach, choosing to change hearts and minds with literature. To that end, they trained women to deliver messages and ferret secrets from powerful men. Two such woman are Irina, an American with deep ties to Russia, and beautiful, mysterious Sally; both women have secrets of their own to conceal. Prescott, herself named after Doctor Zhivago's heroine, does a masterful job of spanning continents and juggling shifting points of view, but readers may wish to keep notes to remember who's who. Cold War buffs or those familiar with Pasternak's tour-de-force and its adaptations will find this book especially enticing. Those new to the story will still be intrigued, and perhaps want to seek out the original.--Joan Curbow Copyright 2010 Booklist
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