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.
Hardcover: 480 pages
Publisher: Hutchinson (5 Sept. 2019)
I was immediately engrossed in this book, and I am not over-exaggerating about barely putting this book down the day I picked it up. I was up until at least 2 AM to finish it in the end.
First of all the synopsis had me hooked with the mention of Dr. Zhivago, it has such an interesting history to it and though I’ve yet to read the book, I have seen the beloved 1965 movie and do own the book and plan on reading it…you know, just as I plan on reading the rest of my mountainous tbr pile.
And I mean, spies, guys, SPIES. ESPIONAGE IN THE COLD WAR ERA!!! AMAZING ALREADY WITHOUT EVEN HAVING TO CRACK IT OPEN.
This is also a book that sheds light onto the difficulties faced by women in the work force. They had so much power in the workforce in WWII and many of them were left at a loss, the independence they had gained was stripped away and they were reverted to secretaries, typists, typical ‘female’ roles. [Of course some enjoyed those roles, this is not a judgement on those jobs then or now!]
But, a female spy can still get the work done that is necessary of them, the question is, how much is their worth to the people that employ them?
They brave the same hardships as men, and they were vital to certain operations, and in this story, they were vital to spreading Dr. Zhivago to its people.
Who were its people? The Russians. The Russian author has been under the thumb of the government, they view this novel as a threat, and of course that makes it a greater asset to those who want to go against Russia covertly.
Russia may have Sputnik, but these women are giving its people, Dr. Zhivago.
There’s the point of view of two women working as/with the spies primarily, but also the author of Dr. Zhivago, Pasternak’s, mistress, the typists and good ol’ Ted.
Prescott is amazing at setting up the book for its time period, in fact, I had such a huge urge to go watch the first few seasons of Mad Men after reading this.
The love story in this book isn’t what you might think when hear it involves Dr. Zhivago but it is the best part of this book. I absolutely adored the relationship and thought it was so well written while keeping historical fiction in balance with love and all the emotions it can cause.
Not to mention the ending was perfection, much as the rest of the novel was.
I gave this 4.5 instead of 5 because I really wanted to know more about the affect of the book on the Russian people, but I do understand why this wasn’t the focus.
A brilliant and thought provoking story that really tugs on the heart strings. If you love espionage, Cold War, or just great historical fiction, this book is highly recommended!
Thank you to Anne Cater, the publisher and the author for a copy of this book to honestly review as part of the hour.
About the Author
Lara Prescott was named after the heroine of Doctor Zhivago and first discovered the true story behind the novel after the CIA declassified 99 documents pertaining to its role in the book’s publication and covert dissemination.
She travelled the world – from Moscow and Washington, to London and Paris – in the course of her research, becoming particularly interested in political repression in both the Soviet Union and United States and how, during the Cold War, both countries used literature as a weapon.
Lara earned her MFA from the Michener Center for Writers. She lives in Austin, Texas with her husband.
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