Tuesday, December 03, 2019

The Secrets We Kept

The Secrets We Kept. Lara Prescott. 2019. 368 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: We typed a hundred words per minute and never missed a syllable.

Premise/plot: This historical novel focuses around the publication and distribution of Boris Pasternak’s Doctor Zhivago. Unable to find a publisher in the Soviet Union, he risked it all by allowing it to essentially be smuggled out of the country and published in Italy. Meanwhile in America, the C.I.A. was hard at work smuggling banned literature into the U.S.S.R. It seemed obvious to try to get their hands on the Russian manuscript or a copy. To produce a copy—in Russian—to smuggle into the U.S.S.R. would be just the thing.

While part of the novel is about Doctor Zhivago, much of the novel is about the women’s typing pool of the agency focusing on a handful of employees that have a second secret job in the agency. Irena and Sally are the two main characters.

The novel Doctor Zhivago features a “forbidden” love story between Zhivago and Lara. It is an adulterous affair. Likewise The Secrets We Kept features a “forbidden” love story between Sally and Irena. Set during a time when being outed could prove costly—loss of job, loss of reputation, loss of family and friends, etc., the novel captures the dangers and intensity of love.

My thoughts: This is the first book about the Lavender Scare that I’ve read. (Though I did see the recent PBS documentary last year on the subject.) I didn’t seek out the book because of this angle. In fact, there were no obvious clues in the jacket description that indicated exactly what the SECRET alluded to in the book title actually was. For better or worse. I think knowing ahead of time would probably bring in more readers. Perhaps.

I sought out the book solely because of my interest in history and literature. I have read and enjoyed Doctor Zhivago. I have an interest in Russian literature. It seemed like a good fit.

I felt like the description was a tiny bit misleading. I wanted more spies and suspense.

I would warn about the contents of this one. There is a graphically violent rape scene. Most adults should be able to handle it. I think it will make you rightfully angry. I found myself wanting to scream at the book.

© 2019 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Lark 2:46 PM  

Sam over at bookchase.blogspot.com just read and reviewed this book. It's like a sign that I should read it, too. ;D

Laureen 3:54 AM  

Thank you for writing a review! As a big fan of everything that has to do with the russian writers of that period I am always looking for thrilling new novels:)

Post a Comment

I'm always happy to hear from you! To help fight spam, comment moderation has been set up for posts older than two days. Feel free to ask me questions or ask for recommendations!

Review Policy

I am interested in reviewing books and audio books. This blog focuses on books written for middle grade on up (essentially 10 to a 110). I review middle grade fiction and young adult fiction (aka tween and teen).

I also review adult books.

I read in a variety of genres including realistic fiction, historical fiction, mystery, romance, science fiction, fantasy, literary fiction, and chick lit. (I've read one western to date.)

I read a few poetry books, a few short story collections, a few graphic novels, a few nonfiction books.

I am especially fond of:

  • Regency romances (including Austen prequels/sequels)
  • Historical fiction set in the Tudor dynasty
  • Historical fiction and nonfiction set during World War II
  • Jewish fiction/nonfiction
  • dystopias
  • apocalyptic fiction
  • science fiction (especially if it involves time travel and alternate realities)
  • fantasy
  • multicultural books and international books

I am not a fan of:

  • sports books
  • horse books
  • dog books if the dog dies (same goes with most pets actually except maybe fish)
  • westerns (if it's a pioneer story with women and children, then maybe)
  • extremely violent books with blood, blood, and more blood

I am more interested in strong characters, well-written, fleshed-out, human characters. Plot is secondary to me in a way. I have to care about the characters in order to care about the plot. That being said, compelling storytelling is something that I love. I love to become absorbed in what I'm reading.

If you're interested in sending me a review copy of your book, I'm happy to hear from you. Email me at laney_po AT yahoo DOT com.

You should know several things before you contact me:

1) I do not guarantee a review of your book. I am just agreeing to consider it for review.
2) I give all books at least fifty pages.
3) I am not promising anyone (author or publisher) a positive review in exchange for a review copy. That's not how I work.
4) In all of my reviews I strive for honesty. My reviews are my opinions--so yes, they are subjective--you should know my blog will feature both negative and positive reviews.
5) I do not guarantee that I will get to your book immediately. I've got so many books I'm trying to read and review, I can't promise to get to any one book in a given time frame.
6) Emailing me every other week to see if I've read your book won't help me get to it any faster. Though if you want to email me to check and see if it arrived safely, then that's fine!

Authors, publishers. I am interested in interviewing authors and participating in blog tours. (All I ask is that I receive a review copy of the author's latest book beforehand so the interview will be productive. If the book is part of a series, I'd like to review the whole series.) Contact me if you're interested.

Unique Visitors and Google PR Rank

Free PageRank Checker

2018 Kitty Lit Challenge

2018 Kitty Lit Challenge
Link to sign-up page

Join the Victorian Reading Challenge

Join the Victorian Reading Challenge
Linked to sign up page

Family Tree Reading Challenge

Family Tree Reading Challenge
Link to sign-up page

2018 Share-a-Tea Challenge

2018 Share-a-Tea Challenge
Linked To Sign Up Page

2018 Charity Challenge (Sign Up)

2018 Good Rule Reading Challenge

2018 Good Rule Reading Challenge
Link to sign up page

2018 Picture Book Challenge

2018 Picture Book Challenge
Link to sign-up page

Join the 2018 Middle Grade Reading Challenge

Join the 2018 Middle Grade Reading Challenge
click image to go to sign up post

Good Rules Cheat List

Board books and picture books = new is anything published after 2013
Early readers and chapter books = new is anything published after 2013
Contemporary (general/realistic) = new is anything published after 2007
Speculative fiction (sci-fi/fantasy = new is anything published after 2007
Classics = anything published before 1968
Historical fiction = new is anything published after 2007
Mysteries = new is anything published after 1988
Nonfiction = new is anything published after 2007
Christian books = new is anything published after 2000
Bibles = new is anything published after 1989

My Blog List

(Old) Challenge Participants

Becky's Hosting These Challenges

100 Books Project: Fill in the Gaps

Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

  © Blogger template Newspaper III by Ourblogtemplates.com 2008

Back to TOP