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The Secrets We Kept
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The Secrets We Kept (Hardback)

Despatched in 2 business days.


The September pick for Reese Witherspoon's Hello Sunshine Book Club


'A thrilling, seductive and utterly compelling novel. I absolutely loved it!' SARAH WINMAN



1956. A celebrated Russian author is writing a book, Doctor Zhivago, which could spark dissent in the Soviet Union. The Soviets, afraid of its subversive power, ban it.

But in the rest of the world it's fast becoming a sensation.

In Washington DC, the CIA is planning to use the book to tip the Cold War in its favour.

Their agents are not the usual spies, however. Two typists - the charming, experienced Sally and the talented novice Irina - are charged with the mission of a lifetime: to smuggle Doctor Zhivago back into Russia by any means necessary.

It will not be easy. There are people prepared to die for this book - and agents willing to kill for it. But they cannot fail - as this book has the power to change history.

Sold in twenty-five countries and poised to become a global literary sensation, Lara Prescott's dazzling first novel is a sweeping page turner and the most hotly anticipated debut of the year.


`A riveting story of secrets, forbidden passions and the dark arts of espionage. I couldn't put it down!' LISA JEWELL

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

'A proto-feminist Mad Men transposed to the world of international espionage - mid-century style and intrigue set against real, indelible history.' ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY

`I loved this book. So vivid and engaging. A joy to read a story about spies that has lots of women in active roles.' CATHY RENTZENBRINK

`A fascinating story, so cleverly told, of the long chain of people who helped to bring Pasternak's masterpiece into the world. I gulped it down.' GILL HORNBY

`The insight into the workings of the CIA, the portrait of the 1950s and a threatened love affair in the West ... make for riveting reading.' DAILY MAIL

'Well-researched and cleverly constructed... An intriguing and little-known chapter of literary history is brought to life.' KIRKUS (starred review)

'Triumphant ... This debut shines as spy story, publication thriller and historical romance with a twist.' PUBLISHERS WEEKLY

'This captivating novel is so assured that it's hard to believe it's a debut - and very easy to see why there's huge buzz around it.' SUNDAY MIRROR


Early readers can't stop talking about The Secrets We Kept:

'I absolutely devoured it. Totally compelling, it made my heart swoop until the very last page.'

'Thrilling, moving and utterly compelling - one of those rare books that makes you forget the outside world.'

'The Secrets We Kept is a brilliant twist on the traditional Cold War spy thriller. It's told through a cast of intelligent and intriguing women and is full of secrets, glamour and love.'

'I absolutely loved it, adored it even, and I can't stop talking about The Secrets We Kept'

'The Secrets We Kept is like nothing else I've read before. The story is vivid and alluring, and one that will stay with you forever.'

'The Secrets We Kept reads like a high-stakes, Mad Men inspired, spy thriller. Classy and glamorous, yet revealing and complex, it has a cast of spectacular characters and a truly emotional core. This really is something special!'

Fiction & PoetryCrime & ThrillersEspionage & spy thrillerFiction & PoetryHistorical Fiction Publisher: Cornerstone Publication Date: 05/09/2019 ISBN-13: 9781786331663  Details: Type: Hardback Format: Books
Availability: Despatched in 2 business days. Add to Basket

Lara Prescott was named after the heroine of Doctor Zhivago and first discovered the true story behind the novel after the CIA declassified 99 documents pertaining to its role in the book's publication and covert dissemination. She travelled the world - from Moscow and Washington, to London and Paris - in the course of her research, becoming particularly interested in political repression in both the Soviet Union and United States and how, during the Cold War, both countries used literature as a weapon. Lara earned her MFA from the Michener Center for Writers. She lives in Austin, Texas with her husband.

More books by Lara Prescott

Customer Reviews

This is the story of an undeclared state of war, and the female victims of the secrets and lies that were produced. It is the story of a book which changes lives even during the writing of it; it has the potential to change much more. Risk, excitement and the heady power of love are sharply contrasted with the fear and disturbance that a life of secrets can result in. This is the story of typists at the Agency in Washington, America, educated women who type the secrets that men create, discuss and sometimes act on. On the edge of news, adventure, they maintain their silence but also speculate. It is the story of a woman, Olga, beloved of a man who is at once famous as a writer but also regarded as a threat. She is the muse but also the keeper of potentially explosive secrets. The story of Irina, vulnerable yet chosen to make a difference. Sally, the traffic stopping beauty with her own secrets. Secrets and the power of books to make a difference dominate this intense novel when various women are given a voice. Its intensity is increased by the vivid descriptions of clothes and settings which reflect the enormous research undertaken by the author. This is a book which stands alone in terms of subject matter, and the singular idea of using the novel Doctor Zhivago as a basis for much of the story. I was so glad to have the opportunity to read and review this book. The book opens with a description of the lives of the typists, educated young women who have to seize their chances to compare notes on the men who run the department. Then viewpoint then changes to the words of Olga, seen as the “Muse”, the mistress of Boris Pasternak. She faces a time of great challenge because of her relationship, and the importance of a novel which is becoming significant in the last days of Stalin’s rule. She lives in a society of surveillance, and even when the pressure eases in some ways she knows the danger she still lives with. Meanwhile, Irina lives a difficult life with her mother, without a father who was a victim of the persecution that Olga would recognise. Her inner conflicts become more complex as she tackles a lifestyle and a job that throws her expectations completely out of kilter. As the chorus of typists analyse, wonder and reach conclusions, the tension increases and the stakes of a novel’s impact rises. This tense novel combines the nature of a thriller, a stylish plot and a literary read to great effect. The clever switches in viewpoint are so well done that an accurate picture is obtained of the secrets and motivations of many of the women. It is a complex plot well balanced and paced; the overall impression is of controlled revelation and explanation. A sophisticated read, this is a book which raises the stakes for significant historical fiction from a female point of view. The secrets that have been kept are important, and this excellent novel makes the reader appreciate the times of threat and realignment.

- 16/09/2019
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