> Skip to content
Read an extract About the book
  • Published: 5 September 2019
  • ISBN: 9781786331663
  • Imprint: Hutchinson
  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 480
  • RRP: $26.99
Categories:

The Secrets We Kept




Sold in twenty-five countries and poised to become a global literary sensation, Lara Prescott's dazzling first novel about the women in the CIA's typing pool and the fate of Boris Pasternak's banned masterpiece is a sweeping page turner and the most hotly anticipated debut of the year.

The September pick for Reese Witherspoon's Hello Sunshine Book Club
_______________
'A thrilling, seductive and utterly compelling novel. I absolutely loved it!' SARAH WINMAN
_______________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.
________________
‘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

‘A stylish debut… Prescott delivers a multi-layered tale’ WOMAN & HOME

'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
'Tartly observed ... The Secrets We Kept is headed for widespread popularity' NEW YORK TIMES
________________

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!'

  • Pub date: 5 September 2019
  • ISBN: 9781786331663
  • Imprint: Hutchinson
  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 480
  • RRP: $26.99

About the Author

Lara Prescott

Lara Prescott received her MFA from the Michener Center for Writers at the University of Texas, Austin. Before she started the MFA, she was an animal protection advocate and a political campaign operative. Her stories have appeared in The Southern Review, The Hudson Review, Crazyhorse, BuzzFeed, Day One, Tin House Flash Friday, and other places. She won the 2016 Crazyhorse Fiction Prize (and Pushcart honorable mention) for the first chapter of The Secrets We Kept, which she spent years researching.


Praise for The Secrets We Kept

“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

“A riveting story of secrets, forbidden passions and the dark arts of espionage. I couldn’t put it down.”

LISA JEWELL

“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

“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

“Lara Prescott’s The Secrets We Kept is trenchant, timely, and compulsively readable. The book thrillingly recalls the period detail of Mad Men, the complex characters of Patricia Highsmith, and the satisfying plots of John le Carre, but ultimately it’s Prescott’s distinctive voice and vision that feel most stirring and relevant. This is a first-rate novel, and it signals the arrival of a major new writer.”

BRET ANTHONY JOHNSTON

“Well-researched and cleverly constructed... An intriguing and little-known chapter of literary history is brought to life with brio.”

Kirkus (starred review)

“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

“A proto-feminist Mad Men transposed to the world of international espionage – all mid-century style and intrigue set against real, indelible history.”

Entertainment Weekly

“Irresistibly charged and vividly imagined, it's told with a breezy confidence that sets the pages flying.”

Mail on Sunday

“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

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

Vogue

“There’s something of Mad Men about this book and you can’t get higher praise than that… Proving that fact can be stranger than fiction, this is the perfect book for some much-needed escapism. Cut yourself off and drink it all in.”

Stylist

“Triumphant ... This debut shines as spy story, publication thriller and historical romance with a twist.”

Publishers Weekly

“A stylish debut… Prescott delivers a multi-layered tale.”

Woman & Home

“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

“The whirl of trench coats and cocktails and midnight meetings on park benches has the heady whiff of classic old-fashioned spy storytelling, brilliantly filtered through Prescott’s thoroughly modern lens.”

Yahoo! UK and Ireland

“Ambitious in scope and proving that fact can be stranger than fiction, this is the perfect book for some much-needed escapism. Cut yourself off and drink it all in.”

Stylist Magazine

“This is a fascinating story... What is entirely Prescott's own is the story of Irina, and her fellow, more experience, spy Sally Forrester. Sally is a particularly affecting character, and, since this is a book about spies, there is the usual complement of lies and double crossings. Woven into the narrative intrigue are a number of touching love stories, including one which allows Prescott to explore how the McCarthyite "Red Scare" found echoes in a widespread paranoia about gays and lesbians in the US government.”

The Irish Independent

“Two very different love stories are woven into the action and plenty of impossible moral choices have to be made by its appealing characters.”

LITERARY REVIEW

“A page-turner combining elements of spy, literary, thriller, historic, romantic and gay fiction ... This is escapist fiction rooted in an at times harrowing historical reality.”

Sunday Times

“A fascinating fictionalisation”

Woman

“In this stylish and confident debut novel, we delve into the story behind the story, which is just as enthralling.”

Woman’s Weekly


Discover More

Q&A
The Secrets We Kept author on her namesake, travelling to Russia for research and collecting historical artifacts along the way.

Related titles