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Historical fiction

The Secrets We Kept by Lara Prescott

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.  @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

The Black Earth By Philip Kazan

A heart-breaking love story set during the turbulent years leading to WWII and the Nazi occupation of Greece.

The Black Earth By Philip Kazan
Hardback | Allison & Busby | 19 April 2018 | £14.99

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1922. When the Turkish Army occupies Smyrna, Zoë Haggitiris escapes with her family, only to lose everything. Alone in a sea of desperate strangers, her life is touched, for a moment, by a young English boy, Tom Collyer, also lost, before the compassion of a stranger leads her into a new life.

Years later when war breaks out, Tom finds himself in Greece and in the chaos of the British retreat, fate will lead him back to Zoë. But he will discover that the war will not end so easily for either of them.

Talking points:

  • Kazan draws upon fascinating family history, including his grandfather, a British army officer who served in Greece in 1941, as well as his Greek grandmother and cousins who were migrants and refugees in the period. Zoë is based on Philip’s grandfather’s cousin.
  • Greek Civil War – not widely written about, even in Greece. Kazan writers about Dekemvriana, the December Events, where the British triggered the Civil War by taking sides with ex-Nazi collaborators and royalists against the Soviet-leaning resistance.
  • Inherited trauma – Philip’s grandfather served in WW1 and in Greece in WW2 and the impact of his experiences were felt by his son and grandson

About Philip Kazan

Philip Kazan was born in London and grew up on Dartmoor in south west England. He has written two novels set in Fifteenth Century Florence: Appetite, about the adventures of an early celebrity chef and The Painter Of Souls, an imagining of the early career of the artist Fra Filippo Lippi, which the Daily Mail called 'an irresistible feast of painting and quattrocento Italy, beautifully written and magnificently researched... a sheer pleasure from start to finish'.

As Pip Vaughan-Hughes, he also wrote the Petroc series - Relics, Vault Of Bones, Painted In Blood and The Fools' Crusade - about a relic smuggler in Thirteenth Century Europe. After living in New York and Vermont, Philip is back on the edge of Dartmoor with his wife and three children. / @pipkazan / #TheBlackEarth

We Were the Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter

An extraordinary debut novel, drawn from author’s family history of survival in the Nazi Holocaust.

Reading Georgia Hunter’s We Were the Lucky Ones is like being swung heart first into history … A brave and mesmerizing debut, and a truly tremendous accomplishment.
— Paula McLain, author of The Paris Wife

14 February 2017 / Hardback / Allison & Busby / £14.99 / fiction 

By the end of the Holocaust, 90 per cent of Poland’s three million Jews were annihilated; of the more than 30,000 Jews who lived in Radom, fewer than 300 survived.

We Were the Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter

The Kurc family shouldn’t have survived the Holocaust. In the spring of 1939 three generations are living relatively normal lives in Poland, despite the hardships Jews face. When war breaks out and the family is cast to the wind, the five Kurc siblings do everything they can to find their way through a devastated continent to freedom.

Addy, a musician, charms his way into possession of a Brazilian visa and into the first class piano lounge on a ship full of refugees bound for Rio; Jakob marries the love of his life in an abandoned house to a soundtrack of air sirens; Mila hides her daughter in a Catholic convent outside of Warsaw, only to return weeks later to find the convent in ruins; Genek endures a brutal winter in a Siberian gulag before embarking with his wife and newborn son on a yearlong exodus through Persia to fight for the Allies; and Halina attempts to flee over the Austrian Alps on foot – while pregnant. All this, across continents and often in ignorance as to the fate of the rest of their family, while the wheels of war turn.

We Were the Lucky Ones is a profoundly moving and memorable novel, and a gripping tale of bravery, based on the author’s family experiences.  It takes you on a journey through unimaginable darkness to a place of hope/ 

When Georgia Hunter was fifteen years old, she learned that she came from a family of Holocaust survivors. We Were the Lucky Ones was born of her quest to uncover her family’s staggering history. She lives in Connecticut, USA, and is available for interview and to write features.

Talking points

Discovering her Polish / Jewish heritage, aged 15

Growing up, while Georgia was close to her grandparents, she had no idea she was a quarter Jewish, or that she came from a family of Holocaust survivors - it wasn’t a big secret, just a piece of her grandfather’s past he had chosen to put behind him.

 At a family reunion in 2000 she discovered the greater Kurc family saga.  Snippets of stories overheard include: a sister who walked over the Austrian Alps, pregnant; a cousin born in the Siberian gulag, where it was so cold his eyes would freeze shut in the mornings and his mother had to use the warmth of her breast milk to coax them open; a harrowing mother-daughter escape from the Radom ghetto; a secret wedding in a blacked-out house in Lvov.

Travelling through Europe, tracing her family’s footsteps

Georgia followed in the Kurc family’s footsteps, travelling the route her family travelled, through Poland, Austria, Italy, and Brazil.  Some of the most moving moments were wandering the streets of Radom, where she discovered a mezuzah - one of only 2 remaining - in the doorway to their old apartment building, and standing with her son on the train platform in Bari, where several relatives reunited after the war.

Researching her family story

The story came together through travel, extensive interviews and outside research, with key findings through the Shoah Foundation, the Hoover Institution at Stamford and the UK Ministry of Defence.

Fact to fiction

While the bones of the story are all true (e.g., who was where, when), Georgia’s goal in writing We Were the Lucky Ones was to put readers in the shoes of her relatives, which is why she chose to write the novel in the present tense - to help the story feel relevant, visceral, memorable.  When she finally allowed herself to fictionalize the details it helped to bring the story closer to the truth.

For more information about this book please contact us.

The Liberation by Kate Furnivall

Paperback original / Simon & Schuster / £7.99 / 3 November 2016

The Liberation by Kate Furnivall

Author of internationally bestselling The Russian Concubine returns with an unforgettably powerful story of love, loss and the long shadow of war.

‘Set in Sorrento and Naples this is a thrilling roller-coaster of a read, seductive, mysterious and edgy. I LOVED it’  Dinah Jefferies

The Liberation is set in Italy in 1945 as British and American troops attempt to bring order to the devastated country and Italy’s population fights to survive. Caterina Lombardi is desperate – her father is dead, her mother has disappeared and her brother is being drawn towards danger. One morning, among the ruins of the bombed Naples streets, Caterina is forced to go to extreme lengths to protect her own life and in doing so forges a future in which she must clear her father's name. An Allied Army officer accuses him of treason and Caterina discovers a plot against her family. Who can she trust and who is the real enemy now? And will the secrets of the past be her downfall?

Detailed research and wonderfully drawn characters make this a powerful, gripping read.

Kate Furnivall is the author of eight novels, including the international bestseller The Russian Concubine. She lives in Devon.

Praise for Kate Furnivall

  • ‘Wonderful . . . hugely ambitious and atmospheric’ Kate Mosse 
  • ‘The definition of a terrifically well-written page-turner’ Dinah Jefferies
  •  ‘A thrilling plot ... Fast-paced with a sinister edge.’ Times 
  • ‘Gripping . . . poignant, beautifully written ...will capture the reader to the last’ Sun 
  • ‘Truly captivating’ Elle  
  • ‘Perfect escapist reading’ Marie Claire  
  • ‘An achingly beautiful epic’ New Woman
  • ‘A rollicking good read’ The Daily Telegraph 
  • ‘Breathtakingly good’ Marie Claire  

For further information please contact us