The world we inhabit dear reader is one consumed by secrets and deception. We may think we know someone; but truthfully, how sure can we really be? Our neighbours, coworkers, friends all may appear normal on the outside. But what if that was all a lie? That they were in fact living a double life? Do we ever really know someone, or even ourselves for that matter? Have we become so accustomed to wearing a mask that we no long remember who we are…?
Today I am on the blog tour for The Secrets We Kept By Lara Prescott (Published 5th Sept 2019) A big thank you to the publishers Hutchinson for my copy to review, always appreciated. Also to the wonderful Anne for the invite who is always so supportive and passionate about the literature world.
About The Author
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.
The Secrets We Kept
TWO FEMALE SPIES. A BANNED MASTERPIECE. A BOOK THAT CHANGED HISTORY.
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.
The satisfying sound of typewriters cushioned my ears as I set about reading this book. I could hear the clicks and clatter as the women typed endlessly away. Immediately I felt a part of the typing pool, going to Ralph’s for doughnuts and chatter while keeping secrets that could start a war. It was fascinating and highly addictive to read.
The women are brave, intelligent and strong. They live in a world that is dominated by men who view women as nothing more than something pleasing to look at. It was refreshing to read how at a time when men were held high up on pedestals and made all the big decisions, they would have been nothing if it wasn’t for the discretion of the women. It was an historic time for women who were starting to become much more than a wife or mother. Their voices were slowly starting to be heard. Ironically, women were the most powerful weapon available.
During the OSS days, women had been entrusted to blow up bridges, but just a few years later, the Agency was still testing the waters to see what we were capable of. Teddy was different. “If you ask me, women are well-suited to be Carriers,” Teddy said. “No one suspects that the pretty girl on the bus is delivering secrets.”
Forbidden love is often a story that ends in heartache. From the moment Irina and Sally met you can feel the sexual tension twirling elegantly off the page. In a time where same sex relationships were frowned upon, the danger of falling in love could cost you your job or even your life. I admired Prescott’s writing of Sally and Irina, how right they were for each other while being complete opposites. Irina can blend into a crowd and be unseen, invisible. Where as Sally screams attention and has all eyes on her. As I watched their relationship blossom, the build up of suspense, the potential of getting caught with each page turn kept the adrenaline going. Their relationship was written as beautifully and delicately as a single rose. Fail to water it and the beauty slowly fades, becoming tainted and lost.
In a world that has the means to create and access to weapons of mass destruction, one would never have thought that something as small as a book could be such a powerful threat. The ripple effect that Doctor Zhivago could cause is off the scale as the CIA plan to use it to tip the Cold War in the USA’s favour. Fearing its subversive power, it is banned in the USSR and the author branded a traitor. A time of manipulation and propaganda I was constantly on guard about who I could trust. The historical aspect was shocking to read, how much this book effected peoples’ lives all over the world. The outrage, the debates and voices desperate to be heard made me want to pick up a copy myself and see if I could decipher these secrets that lie hidden in a love story. That’s if there even was any…
“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. The Agency knew it would take time to change the hearts and minds of men, but they were in it for the long game.”
I enjoyed the narrative style, switching from third to first person and witnessing events through the characters’ eyes. From Olga being interrogated about the novel and kept in the camps, Irina’s confusion about her relationship, to Sally’s heartbreaking shock on New Year’s Eve. Prescott tells each character’s story with sensational emotion and passion. You can feel the strong bond these women have with each other, as friends, family and lovers.
I give The Secrets We Kept By Lara Prescott a Five out of Five paw rating.
I was on tenterhooks the whole time. My heart didn’t stop racing until the very end. Prescott writes an outstanding story of secrets, freedom of speech and forbidden love. I’m excited to see it on the big screen as the movie rights have recently been bought, but I highly recommend you read the book first. Always, always read the book. I look forward to reading more of Prescott’s future work, an extraordinarily talented writer.
Don’t forget to follow the rest of the blog tour, dates below, enjoy!
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