With film rights bought by the producers of ‘La La Land’ and ‘The Night Manager’ and foreign rights sold in 28 countries this novel about the secrets behind Boris Pasternak's banned literary masterpiece, Dr Zhivago, is Hutchinson’s lead debut for 2019.

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The Secrets We Kept
By Lara Prescott
Hutchinson / 3 September / Hardback, Ebook, Audio/ £12.99

A book really can change the world.

At the height of the cold war, two secretaries are pulled out of the typing pool at the CIA and given the assignment of a lifetime: to smuggle Doctor Zhivago out of the USSR and help Boris Pasternak’s new novel make its way into print around the world.

Sally Forrester is a seasoned spy who uses her magnetism and charm to pry secrets out of powerful men. Irina is a novice, and under Sally’s direction quickly learns how to blend into a crowd, make connections and ferry classified documents all over Washington DC.

The Secrets We Kept combines a legendary literary love story - the decades-long love affair between Boris Pasternak and his mistress and muse, Olga, who went to prison for him and was the inspiration for Zhivago’s heroine, Lara – with a narrative about two American women whose lives of extraordinary intrigue and risk are entangled with the history of the CIA.

From Pasternak’s country estate in Peredelkina to the brutalities of the Gulag, from Washington, D.C . to Paris, Manhattan, and Milan, The Secrets We Kept captures a time and a place and a watershed moment in the history of literature with astonishing veracity and command.

Lara Prescott has woven an irresistible literary thriller from one of the greatest love stories of all time. This unforgettable debut novel – which captivates in its rich historical detail and soars in emotional intensity – is destined to be one of the books of the year.


  • How Lara’s old job working on political campaigns made her interested in cold war propaganda tactics—how tactics have evolved from books to Twitter bots and Facebook groups, but the motives are still the same.

  • How history repeats itself re: the censorship of literature, persecution of writers, and how those in power still fear the power of words.

  • Historically the spy novel genre is male-dominated, but there is now a rise of women writing spy fiction.

  • 2020 is the 60th anniversary of Pasternak’s death - his legacy and the importance of Doctor Zhivago today.


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Lara Prescott received her MFA as the prestigious Fania Kruger Fellow 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.  She worked on campaigns around the world – including for the first woman prime minister of Trinidad and Tobago. She also worked at Bully Pulpit Interactive and AKPD.

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 honourable mention) for the first chapter of this novel.  She has spent years researching the history around The Secrets We Kept.

Lara lives in Texas with her family.

www.laraprescott.com/  @laraprescott

Lara will be in the UK from 28 September – 5 October 2019

She will be appearing at literary festivals and bookshops including:

  • Mr B’s, Bath – Tuesday 1 October

  • Henley Literary Festival – Wednesday 2 October (lunchtime)

  • Chorleywood Bookshop (event at Chorleywood Library) – Wednesday 2 October (evening)

  • Ilkley Festival – Saturday 5 October

  • Cheltenham Literary Festival – Sunday 6 October