The Secrets We Kept

The Secrets We Kept

Book - 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."-- From publisher's description
Publisher: New York : Alfred A. Knopf, 2019
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9780525656159
Branch Call Number: FIC Pres
Characteristics: xi, 349 pages ; 25 cm


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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.

JCLKariE Nov 26, 2019

This meticulously researched, superb historical fiction captivates from start the finish. The various points of view make this story come alive. We follow the girls in the CIA's typing pool, including the new Russian girl, Irina, and the obviously-not-just-a-receptionist, Sally. During the Cold War, the CIA uses popular literature to change the hearts of minds of those stuck behind the Iron Curtain.
After hearing rumors of Dr. Zhivago, the Agency obtains copies of the novel and distributes it in Russia. The hows of why of this distribution were thoroughly engaging. The women behind the scenes were essential to all operations; but were relegated to making coffee, typing up the notes and forgetting what they read. Two new girls to the typing pool get additional assignments which require them to play the part of letter carrier and seductress to get what the Agency needs.
The Eastern section of the novel follows Olga, the muse for Lara, and Boris Pasternak, the great Russian poet and author. Olga survives the gulag, helps Boris finish Zhivago, and tries to smooth their way through Soviet censorship. The back-and-forth of the East and West sections keep you on the edge of your seat. Now I'm off to watch Dr. Zhivago again!

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