The Secrets We Kept by Laura Prescott, 4 Stars

Every once in a while, I try to switch it up. If you follow my blog, you know I read a lot of thrillers. I just like ’em, I don’t know. I suppose it could be worse, I could fly through those cheap romance novels at the grocery store. Does anyone do that anymore? It seems so 80’s.

Of course, no offense meant to any of you who love them. In college, I had a TA who actually assigned us to choose, read and write a report on the pulpiest romance book we could find. It was actually super fun. I think mine was about a cowboy who of course appeared shirtless on the cover. Good job, teach!

But, I digress. Once in a while, I like to pick up something different, like The Secrets We Kept by Lara Prescott. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that this one was a September Indie Reads Pick and came highly recommended by Reese Witherspoon. I mean, can you go wrong?

From the Publisher:

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.

My Review:

The Secrets We Kept is a work of historical fiction that is written against the backdrop of the cold-war controversy behind the publication of Dr. Zhivago and author, Boris Pasternak’s torrid love affair with his mistress and muse, Olga. Then of course there are the secret operatives who work for the CIA, Irina and Sally.

I’m not gonna lie, I was confused a bit at the beginning of the book over what exactly was going on as the author flipped back and forth between stories. But once I was able to figure out what was exactly going on, I settled in for a rich tale that was reminiscent of The Americans and Mad Men all wrapped up into one engrossing package.

Hello Sunshine, Reese Witherspoon’s Book Club seems to focus on books with strong female characters who aren’t letting men stand in the way of living their best life. And The Secrets We Kept is no exception. In this one, however, we are privy to a bit of a juxtaposition in the novel’s two main relationships.

We see Olga and Boris who are so in love they can’t be apart and then another couple (no spoilers here) who are so in love but the can’t be together. And yet all are conflicted in what their relationships mean for their happiness and livelihood.

This one is a saucy read. I definitely recommend it to anyone who is intrigued by cold war espionage or the nostalgia of office girls in the 1950’s. This one is out now. Get your copy.


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