The Secrets We Kept by Lara Prescott

Dear Fellow Reader,

Wow! It has been hot. And there hasn’t been a drop of rain in a long time. Of course, this is the summer that I finally decided that I should do more in the yard. So, I planted and now I am watering and hoping.

(NOTE: I apparently wrote this and forgot to post it. It is no longer summer or warm or dry.)

This week’s book is historical fiction. It is the book for my library book club for last June. And I missed the meeting. There is something about reading the book and then missing the meeting which is a drag but it can’t be helped.

The Secrets We Kept follows two storylines that intersect. I would view the intersection of the storylines as tenuous at best. One of the storylines is about Boris Pasternak’s mistress, Olga. Boris Pasternak was a poet in Russia. The Russian government supported the arts as long as the artists behaved. It seems that the government had been told that the epic work of Boris Pasternak’s life, Dr. Zhivago, showed the government in a poor light. Olga was brought in for questioning in the middle of the night and kept in jail for several weeks. She had no idea if she would be released. They tried to get her to write a confession that the book was anti-government.

Then the book shifts to the US and office for the CIA. Irina is a Russian immigrant who is recruited to work in the typing pool. But she is actually groomed to become an operative. The story tells us about Irina’s life and that of the other women in the typing pool and the secrets they keep. The women learn not to think about what they are typing and which men to stay away from in the office. One day, the dazzling Sally Forrester arrives in the office and the women are quite sure she is not really a receptionist. Sally is an operative who had been brought in to advance Irina’s training.

While it is interesting, the point of the book does not arrive until about 2/3 of the way though the book. When talking to someone a week or so after reading the book, I didn’t remember how the two sections intersected. I would not say that the book builds up to the intersection. By then, you are much more caught up in the personalities of the characters and not what the US Government is trying to do. That is just part of an assignment that does involve the book Dr. Zhivago, but I thought it fell a bit flat.

This book was a Reese Witherspoon book club choice. That means that people were perhaps more enthralled with it than I was. While I read and finished the book, I wondered why some parts were in the book. There is a relationship between Irina and Sally. They were apparently not real people so how did that help the story? Sally’s work left more questions than it answered, and it had nothing to do with the overall plot. Why was it there? I did learn much more about Dr. Zhivago than I ever knew before and that was interesting.

So, this is a lukewarm recommendation.

Thanks for reading!

About Carol Early Cooney

I love to read. I love to share my thoughts on books and hope to hear what you think also. Looking to see what books I read beyond those I write about? Check out my Goodreads!
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