The Secrets We Kept

The Secrets We KeptA 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.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. 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 just took me a while to get through it The novel starts during the time of the Cold War, four years after the end of WWII Boris Pasternak was a renowned writer in Russia, short stories and poetry, and was well loved by the Russian government and the general population, that is until Russia became the USSR under Lenin and then Stalin Boris saw many of his fellow artists, writers, musicians, painters, being taken away to labor camps or met with an even worse fate Stalin tolerated Boris and he was allowed to live in a beautiful country home as well as his apartment in Moscow At the point when we enter the story, Boris is working on what he hopes will be his masterpiece He is writing a novel about the way Russia used to be before communism and the truth about the revolution It will tell of the opportunities and freedom that are no longer a part of life under communism His lover and muse, Olga, will figure prominently in the book.When the West gets wind of the novel they immediately start to set in motion plans to smuggle the novel out of the USSR, translate it for distribution in other countries and then ultimately smuggle the finished copies back into the hands of the people of Russia The novel was banned from publication and distribution in Russia One of my favorite quotes Teddy rose to get another drink, returning with two martinis, an extra olive in his A toast Henry asked, to what The book, of course May our literary weapon of mass destruction make the monster squeal The sections on the typing pool in the West, comprised of well educated women, some who had completed covert operations during the war interesting and upsetting Now these women are relegated to typing the notes of the men in charge of operations with no input into what goes on One woman, Irina, is singled out as being useful for the tasks associated with smuggling the novel out of Russia She was brought up speaking the language fluently as her mother was Russian She is taught at length about covert operations first by her boss Teddy and then later by another agent, Sally, with whom there is an immediate connection The sections on the East deal not only with Boris but with Olga who suffered the fate of 3 years in a labor camp for her association with Pasternak Boris has a wife and two children but we don t really get to know much about her except that she allowed Boris to keep his mistress as long as he spent his writing time at the country house with her.There is romance and love, family and commitments involving the characters in the US and in the East There are also strong opinions on loyalty to one s government but even so, to the rights of an individual to speak, write and read whatever they want Reminding me once again how fortunate I am to live in a free country.I received an ARC of this novel from the publisher through NetGalley.Publication date is set for September 3, 2019. 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 environment of former OSS operatives, and indeed the typists were OSS operatives too, all heroines in their own right However, our two protagonists are not merely typists, they re also spies A smuggled copy of Pasternak s novel finds it s way to the West, and the CIA use this to their political advantage by sending reprints back to Russia, to manipulate public opinion, and turn the Cold War in their favour.The author has captured the Cold War era in the West perfectly by means of the lifestyle of her characters, and also the political and sexual attitudes in the workplace, most of which would be frowned upon today In the East, we get than a sense of how married Pasternak maintains a relationship of many years with his muse lover Olga Ivinskaya, a woman who spent three years in a labor camp because of her association with him, and it captures so well the fear of being watched constantly by the State, and the dread that one day a government black car will turn up and they will never be seen again.This is a compelling account of the suppression, publication and distribution of Dr Zhivago and all the controversy surrounding it, and it was such a pleasure to read I expect it will be a great hit Thank you to Netgalley and Random House UK, Cornerstone for my ARC I have given an honest unbiased review in exchange 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 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 much soul searching Exciting doesn t begin to describe this meticulously researched and dramatic journey I am astonished that a book this remarkable is a debut Without a doubt it will be a best selling blockbuster Prescott has quite a career ahead of her. 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 begins four years after the end of World War II, and among these women were leftovers from the OSS, women who had been legends for their heroic and dangerous work during the war were also just women, after all, and were reduced to typing with the rest of the typing pool Still, one or two of these women seem to work their way into proving their worth to the agency, outside of typing, and soon they are tested to see how well they can keep secrets, and follow instructions, and they end up being spies for the agency Eventually, the task that is revealed involves finding and acquiring the manuscript for Boris Pasternak s Dr Zhivago, in order to make copies to be distributed to Russian readers, who will be attending an event on US soil, and will return with these books in hand to share Since the novel was banned in Russia for its revolutionary, subversive content, they are hoping to sway the Russian people through the beauty and power of the compelling nature of this Nobel Prize winning literary legend And, as with Dr Zhivago, there is a love story or two, but there is also a focus on loyalty and love, love in its many forms from romantic to familial, sacrifice and the cost of sacrifice over time to all involved Perhaps what stood out the most to me was the emotional toll it took for these women to live in the shadows of these men, and in the shadows as spies, or seditious and never to be thought worthy of voicing their opinion or objection to a course of action set by men.This is one of those rare books, a historic and finely crafted page turner about the power of the written word that will leave you contemplating such topics as equality, sexuality, censorship, the freedom of the press and how books have the power to change lives all topics that are still as relevant, if not , today This is certainly destined to be a best seller Many thanks for the ARC provided by my Book Angel 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. Got a chance to read this one for a cover quote, and I will definitely be offering one It s terrific 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 my head since I wasn t familiar with the plot of that book If you share the same concern there is nothing to worry about I think my not having read it almost helped me because a lot of characters in the book readily admit not having read the book either until years and years after the operation I m going to stick with my 4 star rating, but I was slightly disappointed in the ending Things just kind of peter out, BUT and that s a big one I m not sure that assessment is totally fair either There was so much build up and suspense with all the characters and as the book rounded down I could feel it simmering out At the same time, I think it was true to life now that I m really reflecting properly in writing this review since life always keeps going Once operations happen and spies do their jobs, they don t sit around and talk about it for years They move on to the next operation mission and on and on I guess my slight disappointment comes from wanting to have followed Sally and Irina a bit longer Maybe most will disagree and think the author ended it appropriately, but I was hoping to stick around a little while longer.Overall, this was a great read and one I plan to own in the future I suspect this book will do very well and probably will be made into a series which I will watch eagerly especially now with the Reese Witherspoon bump I ve been burned a bunch by her picks, but this is one I m happy to say is a good one.Thank you to Edelweiss, Knopf Publishing and Lara Prescott for the opportunity to read and provide an honest review of this book Review Date 9 10 19Publication Date 09 03 19 Well I made it up to the 62% point until I flung this book into the dnf pile I am pretty annoyed that what I thought I was reading, a spy drama concerning the bringing of the book Dr Zhivago to the west and publishing it as a cautionary tale against a totalitarian regime, became nothing but a chick lit story.What is happening to the historical fiction genre when fictional characters are so included that they ruin a wonderful premise and make it into something that is barely historical and majorly fiction The inclusion of a current trend into each and every story line, tends to make the book become ordinary and sometimes makes me think an author must check off PC boxes in order for their story to be told So no recommendation on this one from me Jan and I read it together and she was smart and bailed out before me. 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 platitudesThe 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 nothing and a forbidden love affair between a typist and a spyThat is the easiest way to explain it, the reality of the book is complexIt was fascinating to read the typists take on working for the spies and I enjoyed that part of the book the most, the flowery romanticism of the author and his lover left me cold at times if I m honest and the story of forbidden love although poignant was over before it really began and no one really enjoys chapters of a forsaken lover nattering on about lost love, do they The part at the World Fair where the spies distribute copies of the book to Russians was well done and you felt the urgency of the taskThe typists characters were great, the rest ok and didn t really raise an emotion either way Quite a bit of repeated story that filled out the book I am sure many will love this book but it sets its stall out very high with its own praise ahead of publication and will be interesting to see how it is received 6 10 3 Stars