The Secrets We Kept

The Secrets We Kept : A novel

3.68 (60,728 ratings by Goodreads)
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NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER - 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 - A HELLO SUNSHINE x REESE WITHERSPOON BOOK CLUB PICK

At the height of the Cold War, Irina, a young Russian-American secretary, is plucked from the CIA typing pool and given the assignment of a lifetime. Her mission: to help smuggle Doctor Zhivago into the USSR, where it is banned, and enable Boris Pasternak's magnum opus to make its way into print around the world. Mentoring Irina is the glamorous Sally Forrester: a seasoned spy who has honed her gift for deceit, using her magnetism and charm to pry secrets out of powerful men. Under Sally's tutelage, Irina learns how to invisibly ferry classified documents--and discovers deeply buried truths about herself.

The Secrets We Kept combines a legendary literary love story--the decades-long affair between Pasternak and his mistress and muse, Olga Ivinskaya, who inspired Zhivago's heroine, Lara--with a narrative about two women empowered to lead lives of extraordinary intrigue and risk. Told with soaring emotional intensity and captivating historical detail, this is an unforgettable debut: a celebration of the powerful belief that a work of art can change the world.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 368 pages
  • 132 x 203 x 20mm | 266g
  • Vintage Books
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 0525566104
  • 9780525566106
  • 361,234

Review quote

A gorgeous and romantic feast of a novel anchored by a cast of indelible secretaries.
--The New York Times

Enthralling... This is the rare page-turner with prose that's as wily as its plot.

Proto-feminist Mad Men transposed to the world of international espionage--all midcentury style and intrigue set against real, indelible history."
--Entertainment Weekly

Prescott clearly had fun crafting this story, and the result is a novel that's a delight to read -- and a secret worth sharing.
--San Francisco Chronicle

The Secrets We Kept is simply sensational. Two gripping narratives unfold in the pressure cooker of the Cold War: passionate, courageous Olga who stands in the shadow of Soviet author Boris Pasternak yet inspires him to write a heroine for the ages, and the cynical, equally-overshadowed women of the CIA who help bring Pasternak's masterpiece Dr. Zhivago to bear as a weapon against Soviet oppression. From the gulags of the USSR to the cherry blossom trees of Washington DC, the story grips and refuses to let go. Lara Prescott is a star in the making.
--Kate Quinn, New York Times Bestselling author of The Huntress and The Alice Network

Prescott crafts a cloak-and-dagger story of passion, espionage, and propaganda.
--The Wall Street Journal

A page-turner that is at once a spy thriller, historical fiction and heartfelt romance...A thumping good story.
--The Columbus Dispatch

Through lucid images and vibrant storytelling, Prescott creates an edgy postfeminist vision of the Cold War, encompassing Sputnik to glasnost, typing pool to gulag, for a smart, lively page-turner. This debut shines as spy story, publication thriller, and historical romance with a twist.
--Publishers Weekly (starred review)

A whirlwind of storytelling. In Prescott's supremely talented hands, the result is no less than endlessly fascinating, often deliciously fun as well as heartbreaking.
The Secrets We Kept is a dazzling, beguiling debut.
--BookPage (starred review)

Delightful... An intriguing and little-known chapter of literary history is brought to life with brio.
--Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"Epic in scope, deliciously meaty, and utterly convincing."
--Ben Fountain, author of Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk

"Stylish, thrilling, smart, vivid."
--Elizabeth McCracken, author of Thunderstruck & Other Stories

"Provocative, haunting and a damn good read."
--H.W. Brands, author of The First American

"A first-rate novel, and it signals the arrival of a major new writer."
--Bret Anthony Johnston, author of Remember Me Like This

"One of the most unique and devastating novels [I have] read in years."
--Deb Olin Unferth, author of Minor Robberies
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About Lara Prescott

LARA PRESCOTT received her MFA from the Michener Center for Writers at the University of Texas, Austin. She was previously an animal protection advocate and a political campaign operative. Her stories have appeared in The Southern Review, The Hudson Review, Crazyhorse, Day One, and Tin House Flash Fridays. She won the 2016 Crazyhorse Fiction Prize for the first chapter of The Secrets We Kept. She lives in Austin, Texas.
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Rating details

60,728 ratings
3.68 out of 5 stars
5 18% (10,910)
4 42% (25,403)
3 32% (19,218)
2 7% (4,191)
1 2% (1,006)
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