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 ZhivagoAt 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, 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 Center Of This Unforgettable Debut Is The Powerful Belief That A Piece Of Art Can Change The World 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 will be a best selling blockbuster Prescott has quite a career ahead of her. 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. 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 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 Got a chance to read this one for a cover quote, and I will definitely be offering one It s terrific 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 There s no secret that the Secrets We Kept is going to be a big hit this fall It s one of those books that I imagine publishers dream about filled with true to life intrigue, touching upon little known history, and presenting real life and fictional characters that readers really care about.Like most people, I ve seen the movie Dr Zhivago multiple times and it has never failed to captivate me interestingly, I minored in Russian literature but never read the book Although I was aware that the CIA has psych ops units designed to change hearts and minds, I had no idea that this beloved classic was jokingly referred to as a literary weapon of mass destruction Nor was I aware of the back story of its publication.This book alternates between the East and the West In the East the Soviet Union we meet famed author Boris Pasternak, his lover and muse Olga who was the inspiration for Lara , and his compulsion to write a masterpiece that would capture the truth about the revolution and stand the test of time In the West, we meet the girls of the CIA typing pool, the secret keepers, and the swallows those who ascend to actual secretive work The two focal points of this sorority of sorts are Irena and her mentor, Sally, who are unconventional and free spirited yet tied down by the milieu which they must inhabit.Typically, when a novel shifts from one story to the other, one of the two threads fades by comparison But here, both stories are strong There are fascinating insights into the CIA machinations of the 50s and the way women were treated And there are also great revelations about Boris Pasternak s life and his struggle to follow his literary muse even when it is in conflict with what his beloved land deems correct It s a book I can confidently recommend to just about anyone those who love NYT Top Ten books, literary readers, and readers who veer toward well researched historical books It s a winner, through and through. They had their satellites, but we had their books Back then, we believed books could be weapons that literature could change the course of history This is a fictionalised telling of a fascinating true story that pitched the CIA in a battle against the Soviet authorities over Pasternak s Dr Zhivago Sadly, as I d read some of the same sources as the author The Zhivago Affair The Kremlin, the CIA, and the Battle over a Forbidden Book, The Pasternak Affair , Anna Pasternak s Lara The Untold Love Story and the Inspiration for Doctor Zhivago about Olga Ivinskaya there was little new here and the fiction is inevitably less detailed, precise and specific than the original sources What Prescott adds is a picture of the women who worked for the CIA in its early post war days they re mostly in the typing pool and speak with a collective voice we ironically, as they re representing the individualist west against the collective eastern bloc though some get selected for dangerous, special work If you don t know about this episode of cultural wars, when the CIA s dodgy dealings were arguably benign than they later became, this would be a very good introduction to the Zhivago affair Thanks to Random House Cornerstone for an ARC via NetGalley. I predict that Lara Prescott s debut novel will be a smash hit From the first sentence, at The Agency in D.C in the 1950s, with the clack of the typewriter keys, the typing pool women engage us The Agency goals are to spin subversive words into gold to spread democratic ideals That is where the role of Dr Zhivago comes in, a book banned in the Eastern Bloc for its critiques of the State Intellectuals, scholars, artists and writers and were used as propaganda tools to disseminate the ideology of the West to places behind the Iron Curtain in the East Prescott demonstrates the role of women to advance this objective, giving us an absorbing, scintillating, and exceptionally well paced page turner that will have you canceling dates and burning dinner to keep reading.During the ten or so years that Pasternak was writing his masterpiece, word had come to the attention of the cultural heads of State that the content may contradict their dogma Boris lover, Olga, was Pasternak s muse for the character of Lara, Dr Zhivago s love interest She had already gone to the gulag once, so that the State could tap her for information on Pasternak s heretical novel in progress.The narrative alternates between East and West Olga and Boris in the East, and the typing pool women in the West Among the women in D.C., the focus is on Irina and Sally, two very different women who become than just typists You can use Swallow or Carrier to describe them women who are talented at getting info from loose lipped men that possess important information Swallow , or who are trained and clever at dropping envelopes of top secret information to their appointed recipients Whether you are familiar or uninformed with Dr Zhivago, the Cold War, or the 1950s, it won t matter Prescott shines in installing the reader instantly and sustaining our interest The words flow with the urgent but descriptive narrative, and the momentum is both fierce and sinuous The women often work as doubles to obtain information A double is a bit of a misnomer one person doesn t become two Rather, one loses a part of herself in order to exist in two worlds, never fully existing in either Well, I can tell you, the only world I existed in for the time I was reading this novel was Prescott s narrative creation There isn t one false word or boring passage I was gripped from the opening page to the hypnotic end And, still, I can t get these women out of my head. This is a beautifully written novel unlike anything I ve read for a long while I m so glad I decided to try this as it s not my usual type of read.Female spies The Cold War Communism Secrets Double Agents Forbidden Books Forbidden Love Brilliantly put together, despite being fiction, a lot of this is based on fact of how the book Doctor Zhivago made it to being published when the Soviet Union had such issues with it that lives were at risk This is the time that the country controlled its people, their minds and what freedom they had.Some fantastic characters interweave in this incredible story I fell in love with all of them Lived vicariously as a female American spy on the Russians, the lover of a married author the world came to know, two women who found a friendship amidst state and personal secrets It s addictive and engaging.The pace is steady from start to finish The plot and the fact so much is history fascinated me, so much that I m now looking up facts around the secret and dangerous publication of Doctor Zhivago Imagine being willing to be called a traitor because you had to write a story stuck inside you The author is an exceptional talent and by the end of the novel a world of thoughts and emotions were stirred up Once all the pieces of the larger puzzle fit, it s an incredible story, told so well.I picked up the book to read every moment I had and was truly enthralled If you think this is not your thing, think again A stunning, powerful and important novel Now I must read Doctor Zhivago of course Five stars Thank you to the publisher for my advance copy to review All opinions and ratings are my own and unbiased.