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The Secrets We Kept

by Lara Prescott

Books with reviews by our Reader Review Panel Debut Books of the Month Debuts Historical Fiction Modern and Contemporary Fiction Star Books

LoveReading View on The Secrets We Kept

Gosh, this is an absolute treat of a debut novel, so different, so compelling, so fabulously readable! Circling a past that isn’t actually that long ago, the Cold War battle between the USA and USSR intertwines with the background tale to the novel that became Doctor Zhivago. The prologue wonderfully and thoroughly sets the scene. The story spins and spins again, and as several tales are told from different perspectives, we hear from an unknown voice in the typing pool, from a muse, from a carrier… Women take centre stage, even when in a supportive role. Lara Prescott kept my attention as taut as razor wire throughout, the words ganging up to give my thoughts little shoves. I have been left with a thirst for more information about the history of this time, yet thoroughly satisfied by the tale on offer. The Secrets We Kept is many things, spy story, love story, cold war story, it is also an eloquent, surprising read and highly recommended.

Liz Robinson

The Secrets We Kept Synopsis

Two female spies. A banned masterpiece. A book that changed history.


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.


The CIA plans 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 willing 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. 

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The Secrets We Kept Reader Reviews

In addition to our Lovereading expert opinion some of our Reader Review Panel were also lucky enough to read and review this title. You can click here to read the full reviews.

Entrancing, intriguing, fascinating glimpse into the side of writing and publishing which is not normally thought about. Full review

Elizabeth Anne Rhodes

Doctor Zhivago - a romantic, moving, epic film and book. I didn't know until I read this fascinating and engaging novel that the background story is so amazing and powerful. Full review

Ann Peet

Beautiful, exciting, daring, The Secret's we Kept is all of these things and more. What makes this book unique is that the spies are female. Doctor Zhivago was a book that had to be published, and if that meant publishing in a different country and having it smuggled back, so be it. Lara Prescott has written a beautiful novel that will sweep it's readers to Russia and America, leaving them breathless. Full review

Angie Rhodes

In 1950's Russia free speech is repressed. In the USA, agents are recruited to fight Communism. The publication of Dr. Zhivago could change the course of world history. Full review

Heather Shaw

Fascinating and compelling, great narrative with brilliant use of multiple perspectives, all slowly drawing together to reveal the full story. Full review

Sarah Jones

Lara Prescott has written a beautiful novel that wraps its covers around the reader, like a lover holding you in his or her arms. Full review

Angie Rhodes

A gripping spy novel about the lives and loves of the courageous people who smuggled the literary masterpiece 'Doctor Zhivago' back into Russia during the Cold War. Full review

Susan Coleman

A fascinating story, which had me hooked from start to finish. Full review

Evelyn Love-Gajardo

Can a novel bring about change? Read on... The story was a fascinating blend of fiction and possible fact. The writing was top quality and draws the reader in. My first read by this author and I look forward to more. Full review

alfred nobile

A fascinating insight into the lives of women in the US in the fifties trying to get on in Washington. Their part in getting Pasternak's novel "Doctor Zhivago' into the hands of a waiting world was the highlight for me. Full review

Karen McIntosh

Prescott writes clear and neat prose and the story skips along despite jumping from country to country. Full review

Jo-anne Atkinson

A brilliant story about the East and The West and the Cold War. Full review

Alison Bisping

I'm off to the library to read Doctor Zhivago. Full review

Tunde Toth

The Secrets We Kept Press Reviews

What a fantastic novel The Secrets We Kept is. Thrilling, seductive and thoroughly compelling - Lara has created something really special. And it's made me want to re-read Doctor Zhivago! I absolutely loved it! - Sarah Winman, author of TIN MAN

How does Lara Prescott manage to do so much in one book? The Secrets We Kept is stylish, thrilling, smart, vivid, at once intimate and sweeping, dreamlike and true-to-life, with an unforgettable cast and story. This is a riveting novel about a riveting novel, a love story to love stories. -- ELIZABETH MCCRACKEN As lively and vivid a novel as even the most demanding reader could wish for: epic in scope, deliciously meaty with its wide array of characters and milieux, and utterly convincing in its treatment of Cold War espionage and intrigue. This marvelous novel reads like the work of a mid-career master; what a wonderful surprise, then, to realize it's the opening salvo from a supremely gifted debut novelist. Lara Prescott is the real deal, and the evidence is right here on every page. -- BEN FOUNTAIN Well-researched and cleverly constructed... An intriguing and little-known chapter of literary history is brought to life with brio. - Kirkus (starred review)

I was riveted by Lara Prescott's new novel. I barely stirred from my chair for two days. How does one even begin to talk about this book? It's all here-the KGB versus the CIA, the sexual office politics of Mad Men, a horrifying new look at the gulag, the tragic love affair between Boris Pasternak and his mistress, a brilliantly-drawn portrait of a time when a single book had the power to change history. I predict that The Secrets We Kept will be one of the most important books of 2020. -- JAMES MAGNUSON -

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All versions of this book

ISBN: 9781786331663
Publication date: 05/09/2019
Publisher: Hutchinson an imprint of Cornerstone
Format: Hardback

Book Information

ISBN: 9781786331663
Publication date: 5th September 2019
Author: Lara Prescott
Publisher: Hutchinson an imprint of Cornerstone
Format: Hardback
Pagination: 480 pages
Genres: Reader Reviewed Books, Debuts of the Month, Debuts, Historical Fiction, Modern and Contemporary Fiction, Star Books,
Categories: Historical fiction, Espionage & spy thriller, The Cold War,

About Lara Prescott

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.

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