The outlet sale Secrets We Kept: popular A novel outlet sale

The outlet sale Secrets We Kept: popular A novel outlet sale

The outlet sale Secrets We Kept: popular A novel outlet sale

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Product Description

INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER 
A HELLO SUNSHINE x REESE WITHERSPOON BOOK CLUB PICK


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 Zhivago.


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. From Pasternak''s country estate outside Moscow to the brutalities of the Gulag, from Washington, D.C. 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.

Amazon.com Review

There are a few love stories in The Secrets We Kept, mostly of the unhappy kind: adulterous, unrequited, forbidden, and ill-fated. And in between these thwarted romances, history happens. In Russia, a mistress suffers years in a Gulag rather than betray her married lover—Boris Pasternak, author of Doctor Zhivago—to Stalin. Her suffering inspires Pasternak to create Lara, a literary heroine for the ages. A few years later, in mid-1950s Washington DC, two intriguing, courageous women work as spies for the CIA while masquerading as typing pool secretaries. It’s a long way from the Gulag to the Beltway, but Prescott cleverly links these two narratives via the progress of the Doctor Zhivago manuscript, whose besieged creator half-pleads, half-prays, “May it make its way around the world.” That this contraband masterpiece did make its way around the world while Russians were forbidden to read it, and that the CIA hatched an audacious plot to smuggle it into Soviet Russia so as to turn its citizens against communism, is credited to men with famous surnames: Pasternak, Stalin, Dulles, and even publisher Giangiacomo Feltrinelli. But Prescott’s mesmerizing novel brings women out of the shadows and gives them their due, as spies and muses yes, but also as unsung heroines who put their lives on the line to get a novel out into the world, trusting that to do so would rouse a nation and change the course of history. --Vannessa Cronin

Review

"A gorgeous and romantic feast of a novel anchored by a cast of indelible secretaries."
—The New York Times

"Enthralling... This is the rare page-turner with prose that''s as wily as its plot."
Vogue

"Proto-feminist Mad Men transposed to the world of international espionage—all midcentury style and intrigue set against real, indelible history.”
Entertainment Weekly

"Prescott clearly had fun crafting this story, and the result is a novel that’s a delight to read — and a secret worth sharing."
—San Francisco Chronicle

" The Secrets We Kept is simply sensational. Two gripping narratives unfold in the pressure cooker of the Cold War: passionate, courageous Olga who stands in the shadow of Soviet author Boris Pasternak yet inspires him to write a heroine for the ages, and the cynical, equally-overshadowed women of the CIA who help bring Pasternak''s masterpiece Dr. Zhivago to bear as a weapon against Soviet oppression. From the gulags of the USSR to the cherry blossom trees of Washington DC, the story grips and refuses to let go. Lara Prescott is a star in the making." 
Kate Quinn, New York Times Bestselling author of The Huntress and The Alice Network

"Prescott crafts a cloak-and-dagger story of passion, espionage, and propaganda."
—The Wall Street Journal

"A page-turner that is at once a spy thriller, historical fiction and heartfelt romance...A thumping good story."
—The Columbus Dispatch

"Through lucid images and vibrant storytelling, Prescott creates an edgy postfeminist vision of the Cold War, encompassing Sputnik to glasnost, typing pool to gulag, for a smart, lively page-turner. This debut shines as spy story, publication thriller, and historical romance with a twist."
Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"A whirlwind of storytelling. In Prescott’s supremely talented hands, the result is no less than endlessly fascinating, often deliciously fun as well as heartbreaking .
The Secrets We Kept
 is a dazzling, beguiling debut."
—BookPage (starred review)

"Delightful... An intriguing and little-known chapter of literary history is brought to life with brio."
Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“Epic in scope, deliciously meaty, and utterly convincing.”
—Ben Fountain, author of Billy Lynn''s Long Halftime Walk
 

“Stylish, thrilling, smart, vivid.”
—Elizabeth McCracken, author of Thunderstruck & Other Stories
 
“Provocative, haunting and a damn good read.”
—H.W. Brands, author of The First American
 
“A first-rate novel, and it signals the arrival of a major new writer.”
—Bret Anthony Johnston, author of Remember Me Like This
 
“One of the most unique and devastating novels [I have] read in years.”
—Deb Olin Unferth, author of Minor Robberies

About the Author

LARA PRESCOTT received her MFA from the Michener Center for Writers at the University of Texas, Austin. She was previously an animal protection advocate and a political campaign operative. Her stories have appeared in The Southern Review, The Hudson Review, Crazyhorse, Day One, and Tin House Flash Fridays. She won the 2016 Crazyhorse Fiction Prize for the first chapter of The Secrets We Kept. She lives in Austin, Texas.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Prologue

The Typists
 
 
We typed a hundred words per minute and never missed a syllable. Our identical desks were each equipped with a mint-shelled Royal Quiet Deluxe typewriter, a black Western Electric rotary phone, and a stack of yellow steno pads. Our fingers flew across the keys. Our clacking was constant. We’d pause only to answer the phone or to take a drag of a cigarette; some of us managed to master both without missing a beat.

The men would arrive around ten. One by one, they’d pull us into their offices. We’d sit in small chairs pushed into the corners while they’d sit behind their large mahogany desks or pace the carpet while speaking to the ceiling. We’d listen. We’d record. We were their audience of one for their memos, reports, write-ups, lunch orders. Sometimes they’d forget we were there and we’d learn much more: who was trying to box out whom, who was making a power play, who was having an affair, who was in and who was out.

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 planes. Some of us could handle a Colt 1873 better than John Wayne. But all we were asked when inter­viewed was “Can you type?”

It’s been said that the typewriter was built for women—that to truly make the keys sing requires the feminine touch, that our narrow fingers are suited for the device, that while men lay claim to cars and bombs and rockets, the typewriter is a machine of our own.

Well, we don’t know about all that. But what we will say is that as we typed, our fingers became extensions of our brains, with no delay between the words coming out of their mouths—words they told us not to remember—and our keys slapping ink onto paper. And when you think about it like that, about the mechanics of it all, it’s almost poetic. Almost.

But did we aspire to tension headaches and sore wrists and bad posture? Is it what we dreamed of in high school, when studying twice as hard as the boys? Was clerical work what we had in mind when opening the fat manila envelopes containing our college accep­tance letters? Or where we thought we’d be headed as we sat in those white wooden chairs on the fifty-yard line, capped and gowned, receiving the rolled parchments that promised we were qualified to do so much more?

Most of us viewed the job in the typing pool as temporary. We wouldn’t admit it aloud—not even to each other—but many of us believed it would be a first rung toward achieving what the men got right out of college: positions as officers; our own offices with lamps that gave off a flattering light, plush rugs, wooden desks; our own typists taking down our dictation. We thought of it as a beginning, not an end, despite what we’d been told all our lives.

Other women came to the Agency not to start their careers but to round them out. Leftovers from the OSS, where they’d been legends during the war, they’d become relics relegated to the typing pool or the records department or some desk in some corner with nothing to do.

There was Betty. During the war, she ran black ops, striking blows at opposition morale by planting newspaper articles and dropping propaganda flyers from airplanes. We’d heard she once provided dynamite to a man who blew up a resource train as it passed over a bridge somewhere in Burma. We could never be sure what was true and what wasn’t; those old OSS records had a way of disappearing. But what we did know was that at the Agency, Betty sat at a desk along with the rest of us, the Ivy League men who were her peers during the war having become her bosses.

We think of Virginia, sitting at a similar desk—her thick yellow cardigan wrapped around her shoulders no matter the season, a pencil stuck in the bun atop her head. We think of her one fuzzy blue slipper underneath her desk—no need for the other, her left leg amputated after a childhood hunting accident. She’d named her prosthetic leg Cuthbert, and if she had too many drinks, she’d take it off and hand it to you. Virginia rarely spoke of her time in the OSS, and if you hadn’t heard the secondhand stories about her spy days you’d think she was just another aging government gal. But we’d heard the stories. Like the time she disguised herself as a milkmaid and led a herd of cows and two French Resistance fighters to the border. How the Gestapo had called her one of the most dangerous of the allied spies—Cuthbert and all. Sometimes Virginia would pass us in the hall, or we’d share an elevator with her, or we’d see her waiting for the number sixteen bus at the corner of E and Twenty-First. We’d want to stop and ask her about her days fighting the Nazis—about whether she still thought of those days while sitting at that desk wait­ing for the next war, or for someone to tell her to go home.

They’d tried to push the OSS gals out for years—they had no use for them in their new cold war. Those same fingers that once pulled triggers had become better suited for the typewriter, it seemed.

But who were we to complain? It was a good job, and we were lucky to have it. And it was certainly more exciting than most govern­ment gigs. Department of Agriculture? Interior? Could you imagine?

The Soviet Russia Division, or SR, became our home away from home. And just as the Agency was known as a boys’ club, we formed our own group. We began thinking of ourselves as the Pool, and we were stronger for it.

Plus, the commute wasn’t bad. We’d take buses or streetcars in bad weather and walk on nice days. Most of us lived in the neighbor­hoods bordering downtown: Georgetown, Dupont, Cleveland Park, Cathedral Heights. We lived alone in walk-up studios so small one could practically lie down and touch one wall with her head and the other with her toes. We lived in the last remaining boarding houses on Mass. Avenue, with lines of bunk beds and ten-thirty curfews. We often had roommates—other government gals with names like Agnes or Peg who were always leaving their pink foam curlers in the sink or peanut butter stuck to the back of the butter knife or used sanitary napkins improperly wrapped in the small wastebasket next to the sink.

Only Linda Murphy was married back then, and only just mar­ried. The marrieds never stayed long. Some stuck it out until they got pregnant, but usually as soon as an engagement ring was slipped on, they’d plan their departure. We’d eat Safeway sheet cake in the break room to see them off. The men would come in for a slice and say they were awfully sad to see them go; but we’d catch that glim­mer in their eye as they thought about whichever newer, younger girl might take their place. We’d promise to keep in touch, but after the wedding and the baby, they’d settle down in the farthest corners of the District—places one would have to take a taxi or two buses to reach, like Bethesda or Fairfax or Alexandria. Maybe we’d make the journey out there for the baby’s first birthday, but anything after that was unlikely.

Most of us were single, putting our career first, a choice we’d re­peatedly have to tell our parents was not a political statement. Sure, they were proud when we graduated from college, but with each pass­ing year spent making careers instead of babies, they grew increas­ingly confused about our state of husbandlessness and our rather odd decision to live in a city built on a swamp.

And sure, in summer, Washington’s humidity was thick as a wet blanket, the mosquitoes tiger-striped and fierce. In the morning, our curls, done up the night before, would deflate as soon as we’d step outside. And the streetcars and buses felt like saunas but smelled like rotten sponges. Apart from a cold shower, there was never a moment when one felt less than sweaty and disheveled.

Winter didn’t offer much reprieve. We’d bundle up and rush from our bus stop with our head down to avoid the winds that blew off the icy Potomac.

But in the fall, the city came alive. The trees along Connecticut Avenue looked like falling orange and red fireworks. And the tem­perature was lovely, no need to worry about our blouses being soaked through at the armpits. The hot dog vendors would serve fire-roasted chestnuts in small paper bags—the perfect amount for an evening walk home.

And each spring brought cherry blossoms and busloads of tour­ists who would walk the monuments and, not heeding the many signs, pluck the pink-and-white flowers and tuck them behind an ear or into a suit pocket.

Fall and spring in the District were times to linger, and in those moments we’d stop and sit on a bench or take a detour around the Reflecting Pool. Sure, inside the Agency’s E Street complex the fluo­rescent lights cast everything in a harsh glow, exaggerating the shine on our forehead and the pores on our nose. But when we’d leave for the day and the cool air would hit our bare arms, when we’d choose to take the long walk home through the Mall, it was in those moments that the city on a swamp became a postcard.

But we also remember the sore fingers and the aching wrists and the endless memos and reports and dictations. We typed so much, some of us even dreamed of typing. Even years later, men we shared our beds with would remark that our fingers would sometimes twitch in our sleep. We remember looking at the clock every five minutes on Friday afternoons. We remember the paper cuts, the scratchy toilet paper, the way the lobby’s hardwood floors smelled of Murphy Oil Soap on Monday mornings and how our heels would skid across them for days after they were waxed.

We remember the one strip of windows lining the far end of SR—how they were too high to see out of, how all we could see anyway was the gray State Department building across the street, which looked exactly like our gray building. We’d speculate about their typing pool. What did they look like? What were their lives like? Did they ever look out their windows at our gray building and wonder about us?

At the time, those days felt so long and specific; but thinking back, they all blend. We can’t tell you whether the Christmas party when Walter Anderson spilled red wine all over the front of his shirt and passed out at reception with a note pinned to his lapel that read do not resuscitate happened in ’51 or ’55. Nor do we remember if Holly Falcon was fired because she let a visiting officer take nude photos of her in the second-floor conference room, or if she was promoted because of those very photos and fired shortly after for some other reason.

But there are other things we do remember.

If you were to come to Headquarters and see a woman in a smart green tweed suit following a man into his office or a woman wearing red heels and a matching angora sweater at reception, you might’ve assumed these women were typists or secretaries; and you would’ve been right. But you would have also been wrong. Secretary: a per­son entrusted with a secret. From the Latin secretus, secretum. We all typed, but some of us did more. We spoke no word of the work we did after we covered our typewriters each day. Unlike some of the men, we could keep our secrets.

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4.2 out of 54.2 out of 5
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Top reviews from the United States

Aaron C. Brown
2.0 out of 5 starsVine Customer Review of Free Product
Based on an exciting true story and well-written, but didn''t grab me
Reviewed in the United States on July 28, 2019
At the height of the Cold War, the CIA publishes Boris Pasternak''s Dr. Zhivago in Russian and smuggles the copies behind the Iron Curtain to embarrass the Soviet leadership. It''s a great story filled with colorful characters, intrigue, suspense and literary values.... See more
At the height of the Cold War, the CIA publishes Boris Pasternak''s Dr. Zhivago in Russian and smuggles the copies behind the Iron Curtain to embarrass the Soviet leadership. It''s a great story filled with colorful characters, intrigue, suspense and literary values.

But it''s been told before, in Peter Finn and Petra Couvée''s "The Zhivago Affair," among other places, and better. There are memoirs and accounts from many of the participants. This fictionalization is a less compelling story than the truth.

The author''s main interest does not seem to be the plot. Rather she attempts to recreate an historical era with emphasis on sexism. The important characters are all women, mostly fictional, more concerned with love, sex (straight and lesbian), clothes and personal relations than either literature or politics.

My issue here is the author does not understand the era. She transplants 21st ideas of sexism into the 1950s. Women of that era did not graduate college only to be shocked at being offered jobs as typists, while less-intelligent college graduate men were put on executive paths. The women and everyone else knew long before college that women''s choices were marriage-and-family, low-paid work or fighting hard against steep odds for professional careers. Moreover the women involved did not differ from their male bosses only by sex, the author is comparing middle-class and poor women from average colleges to wealthy Ivy-League males with strong connections. The class differences mattered as well as sex.

Contemporary works like Patricia Highsmith''s "The Price of Salt," which has some similarities to this novel, paint a far different and more accurate picture of the lives of women and lesbians in the 1950s (that book also ranks much higher on literary grounds). You can also learn from the Zhivago affair books written by participants.

Finally the book fails as a thriller. The only real tension concerns Soviet government abuse of Pasternak''s mistress, and it is not sustained. The gulag scenes are wrenching, but have been done much better elsewhere. The plotting is not taut, and the action scenes are clumsy.

The best way to view this book is as a reasonably well-written attempt to use historical events to illustrate 21st century ideas about women, sex and power. If it had been complete fiction, or if it recounted obscure events, I might have given it three stars for a decent story and good writing. But since it relies mainly on the interest of the historical story, and it doesn''t do that story justice, and it fails to evoke the reality of the era, I decided on two stars.
427 people found this helpful
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Cool Stuff
1.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Save your money, get something else.
Reviewed in the United States on September 9, 2019
The Prologue was good, but I''m reminded of Elmore Leonard''s sage advice, "Don''t have a prologue." And another bit of advice, "Begin in medias res." Successful writers give out this advice for a reason. Unfortunately for this book once the prologue is done, it quickly... See more
The Prologue was good, but I''m reminded of Elmore Leonard''s sage advice, "Don''t have a prologue." And another bit of advice, "Begin in medias res." Successful writers give out this advice for a reason. Unfortunately for this book once the prologue is done, it quickly becomes tedious from Chapter 1 to the end, if you can make it that far. I had to skim a bit to get there. Save your money. If you''ve never read it, get Girl on the Train instead. That was well paced with a flawed heroine with a satisfying ending.
95 people found this helpful
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switterbug/Betsey Van Horn
5.0 out of 5 starsVine Customer Review of Free Product
War of the words
Reviewed in the United States on June 28, 2019
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... See more
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 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 more 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.
102 people found this helpful
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I love books
1.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Boring
Reviewed in the United States on September 4, 2019
Very boring book. I read constantly and I haven’t put a book down more than this book. I’m on page 250 and I am determined to finish it but it’s difficult when the book is not interesting.
66 people found this helpful
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Margaret Elizabeth
1.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
The Cart Before the Horse
Reviewed in the United States on September 23, 2019
I think this new author genuinely cared about this story and the characters, so my frustration is more with the newspaper reviewers and publishing house that hyped this book. For me, the biggest problem with this book is that the characters were extremely one-dimensional... See more
I think this new author genuinely cared about this story and the characters, so my frustration is more with the newspaper reviewers and publishing house that hyped this book. For me, the biggest problem with this book is that the characters were extremely one-dimensional and they never--not once--surprised me. They acted and sounded like they were part of an old script. I also felt like the Sally character/her introduction/her first outing with Irina was uncomfortably reminiscent of the beautiful stranger who enters Ottessa Moshfegh''s Eileen. Both women even have red hair! It is uncanny how unoriginal this book is. Everyone keeps making comparisons to Mad Men, and those comparisons are true--so true that those parts of the book just felt like Mad Men episodes left on the cutting room floor. The idea for this book was great, the plot was complicated, but the characters were not complicated. The best part was the ''Greek Chorus'' typing pool in the prologue and epilogue, but that''s charm wore off too. I wanted to like this book so much, but the parts with Olga were the hardest to read for me. This book needed to dig deeper into these characters. So, as I said at the start, I can only think that the reviewers were awed by the high price this book got from publishers? I just can''t think of why else it would receive such praise. I wish the author the best with her next project.
28 people found this helpful
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J. Roose
3.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
The story of how Dr. Zhivago was published
Reviewed in the United States on September 16, 2019
I had hope for a more interesting book and was disappointed with the style of writing. The author used the imperial “we” to describe the actions and thoughts of the women in the typing pool of the FBI. It was more irritating than a normal plot device would have been. An... See more
I had hope for a more interesting book and was disappointed with the style of writing. The author used the imperial “we” to describe the actions and thoughts of the women in the typing pool of the FBI. It was more irritating than a normal plot device would have been. An okay story, just not as good as I had hoped.
34 people found this helpful
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bill greene
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Gripping and interesting historical fiction set at the height of the Cold War
Reviewed in the United States on September 23, 2019
Overall: An interesting and gripping historical-fiction drama told from multiple perspectives centered on the novel Dr. Zhivago by Boris Pasternak. Summary: This book is based on the true revelation in 2014 that the CIA used Dr. Zhivago to spread the message... See more
Overall: An interesting and gripping historical-fiction drama told from multiple perspectives centered on the novel Dr. Zhivago by Boris Pasternak.

Summary: This book is based on the true revelation in 2014 that the CIA used Dr. Zhivago to spread the message about life under communism in the Soviet Union. It is told from multiple perspectives with two of them being young woman who work as spies (Irina and Sally) during the height of the Cold War. They become involved with the CIA''s plan to get copies of Dr. Zhivago into the Soviet Union where it had been banned because of its portrayal of life under Communism. In addition to the spy saga, the story of Pasternak and his real-life lover Olga (the model for Lara) is interwoven throughout. The story is set in multiple locations including the CIA headquarters in Washington DC, Seattle, to the brutalities of Gulag, and the Soviet Union. A gripping and well written story that kept me engaged from beginning till end. 7/10

The Good: Very interesting topic and I enjoyed learning about the women spy network as well as more about Boris and his lover, Olga. This book peeked my interest enough that I am reading Dr. Zhivago next! Well written with adequate (could be better) character development but still felt like I liked everyone in the book. Lots of great descriptions throughout that transport you to the scene and help to keep you engaged though I found most of these events (lots of parties and galas) to be more extras to the actual plot and substance behind this book.

The Bad: I wish the book was more focused on the women who worked for the CIA. This to me was the most interesting part of the book and I would have liked either more depth to their stories or additional stories told. For as exciting as the subject matter was, I was in fact able to put the book down and I think this was due to the multiple perspectives and the spy stories were just a bit anti-climatic for me. Overall, this was very good but it could have been much better.
16 people found this helpful
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Asrieal
1.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
What secrets?
Reviewed in the United States on January 26, 2020
This book was less about secrets kept and more about the struggles of being a lesbian in the 50s. That was the focus of the USA side of the story, and the espionage.. was just sort of glossed over and boring. Russia section: The other side of the coin was the story of a... See more
This book was less about secrets kept and more about the struggles of being a lesbian in the 50s. That was the focus of the USA side of the story, and the espionage.. was just sort of glossed over and boring. Russia section: The other side of the coin was the story of a mother who loved being a mans mistress far more than being a mother to her children. His book, his interests and of course, sex with him was the most important thing in her world, she doesn’t even pretend to care more about her own children. If you like selfish women, extremely boring and tedious plot lines, and the story of two women discovering their homosexuality, you “might” enjoy this book. I however, thought it was almost unbearable, and only finished it because it was out book club book of the month. (They all hated it too, for the record)
16 people found this helpful
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Top reviews from other countries

Loreen
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Great Story
Reviewed in Canada on November 4, 2019
This was a different perspective on the old story: Doctor Zhivago. It traces, the writer and his mistress as well as the beginnings of the CIA and their involvement with getting Zhivago published around the world and in the USSR. Soviet doctrine at the time was severe and...See more
This was a different perspective on the old story: Doctor Zhivago. It traces, the writer and his mistress as well as the beginnings of the CIA and their involvement with getting Zhivago published around the world and in the USSR. Soviet doctrine at the time was severe and did not support his kind of story. At first, the perspectives from different groups and people is hard to follow, but eventually, you really start to identify with the characters. This book also delves into LGBTQ issues during the late 50s.
2 people found this helpful
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J. v. Kirchbach
3.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Sadly below expectations ...
Reviewed in Germany on October 20, 2019
The premise of the plot of "The Secrets We Kept" was intriguing, but the writing and structure never delivered the punch I anticipated. Honestly, the characters (and there are many!) were never developed or nuanced to a degree that made me care what happened to them, one...See more
The premise of the plot of "The Secrets We Kept" was intriguing, but the writing and structure never delivered the punch I anticipated. Honestly, the characters (and there are many!) were never developed or nuanced to a degree that made me care what happened to them, one way or the other. The chapters seemed choppy and the beginning of each one was spent figuring out who the narrator was. The Cold War atmosphere was well portrayed. The back story to Doctor Zhivago was very interesting, but the style in which it was presented was hard to read. This will not be a book I recommend to people who are interested in literature or the Cold War or a compelling narrative.
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Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Fascinating read
Reviewed in Canada on September 7, 2020
I enjoyed this book very much. I didn''t expect to because I''m not a big fan of Russian literature, but I am a fan of books about the cold war in general. I bought it because of the good reviews and I''m glad I did. There is such a diverse cast of characters, all of whom were...See more
I enjoyed this book very much. I didn''t expect to because I''m not a big fan of Russian literature, but I am a fan of books about the cold war in general. I bought it because of the good reviews and I''m glad I did. There is such a diverse cast of characters, all of whom were well written and interesting. The book moves along at a good pace and there were several times I was compelled to keep reading, even though my eyes were tired.
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turtle65
3.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Story within a story within a story - I found this book confusing with flipping back and forth tin
Reviewed in Canada on January 17, 2020
In its characters and settings. The ending tied a small portion of the book together, leaving many characters and situations lost in the past possibly hanging somewhere waiting to be free....persistence will get you to the end
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Susanna Jakeman
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
book club pick
Reviewed in Canada on February 5, 2020
this was a pretty interesting story, we chose it for our book club pick, generated interesting conversations I would recommend.
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