The Secrets We Kept

The Secrets We Kept

Large Print - 2019
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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.
Publisher: [New York] : Random House Large Print, [2019]
Edition: First Large print edition.
ISBN: 9780593168141
Branch Call Number: F PRESCOTT
Characteristics: xi, 477 pages (large print) ; 24 cm


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Aug 24, 2019

I confess: I have never read "Dr. Zhivago" and I have never seen the movie. I know! Where have I been? After reading the summary for this book I immediately requested it as a digital ARC on NetGalley and then was happily surprised to see an article in BOOKPAGE just before I began reading. Now I am done reading and I am not as thrilled with the book as many others have been. It is a fascinating tale and I do believe that Prescott did an admirable job in her research. The narrative is split between the East and the West. In the East storyline we see the story of Boris Pasternak and his mistress Olya as the communist authorities do their best to prevent publication of a work they deemed subversive. Meanwhile, there are spy rings based in the West doing their best to get this hot new bestseller into the hands of as many Soviet citizens as possible. Our view of that work is from the typist pool where women learn early to keep and sometimes help spread the secrets of the Cold War.
For me the East side of the story was the easiest POV to understand and evoked the most empathy. The West was split between three voices and was a bit difficult to follow. What I took away was the despair many in our espionage feel at the end of the day despite their accomplishments. It appears that they find as many or more regrets. Basically, the CIA should not try to use this book as a recruitment tool!


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