I’m always torn when I finish a good read– on one hand, it feels like an achievement. It’s nice to see how a story ends, plus I know a new book is waiting for me– but on the other hand, I’ve spent so much time with the characters & now the story is over! It’s like a movie I love. For the next several days, I’ll think of them & wonder what they would do in certain situations or how they would answer a question. The good news, though, is now I get to tell you all about it so you can know it’s a winner to pick up, too!

If you are looking for a fiction read this winter, I can’t think of a better setting for you than Russia. When I think Russian winter, it doesn’t exactly translate to beach read, know what I’m saying? Plus, while this is a fiction novel, it contains a lot of history, including the real story of Doctor Zhivago.

In The Secrets We Kept, the reader gets to know three women. The first two, Sally & Irina, are Washington D.C. secretaries in the CIA’s typing pool handpicked to be spies at the height of The Cold War in the 1950’s. Sally has already traveled the world & become a master at getting the answers she wants, & Irina is her new trainee. Next up is Olga, mistress of Boris Pasternak, the beloved Russian author working on his crowning achievement, Doctor Zhivago. Olga is his muse, & when the USSR discovers that Boris has anti-Soviet convictions, they arrest Olga in order to punish Boris. When Olga is able to return from the labor camps after three years, Doctor Zhivago is near completion & Boris must decide if he will choose safety within his country for both himself & Olga or move forward with sharing his book with the world. When the book is banned from being published by the USSR, first Italian publisher, Feltrinelli, & then the agency Sally & Irina are part of, step in with attempt to first publish the novel & then sneak it back behind the Iron Curtain.

I don’t know that I’ve read a novel before containing two narratives rivaling each other for most interesting characters or storyline. They complement one another & need each other to tell the whole story, but at the same time, they are their own stories. It doesn’t take long to understand how the author comes up with the title considering one of the narratives takes place within the CIA, but it turns out everyone has some secrets– & not just about work.

I hope you make some time to read this holiday season– jump into a new world for a bit– I promise you’ll love it!

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