This debut novel tells the tale of secretaries turned spies, of love and duty, and of sacrifice—inspired by the true story of the CIA plot to infiltrate the hearts and minds of Soviet Russia, not with propaganda, but with one of the great love stories of the 20th century: Doctor Zhivago.
The whirl of trench coats and cocktails and midnight meetings on park benches has the heady whiff of classic old-fashioned spy storytelling, but filtered, too, through Prescott’s thoroughly modern lens. And the result is something like a protofeminist Mad Men transposed to the world of international espionage—all excellent midcentury style and intrigue set against real, indelible history.
This rich and well-researched narrative has an almost epic sweep, with alternating dramatic plots involving spies and espionage, many fascinating characters (both historical and fictional) from East and West, and a gifted writer and storyteller to tie it all together ... For a debut novelist, Prescott writes with astonishing assurance, enthralling readers with tales of secret agents and intrigue, love, and betrayal. Highly recommended.
The true stories within Lara Prescott’s first novel are by far the best thing about it. That’s saying a lot, because the job of weaving together bombshell espionage material long kept secret by the C.I.A. with the creation story of a now-dusty Russian novel and tartly-observed Mad Men-era feminism and sexual bigotry was tough. Prescott has managed to shape all of this into an above-average entry in the I-Knew-Hemingway genre ... Prescott has the first whopper novel, and it set off a bidding war, more likely on the basis of its commercial potential than its caliber as a page-turner ... Prescott, who once worked as a political-campaign operative, obviously knows her stuff, but she’s less adept at drawing individual characters than at conveying the women’s groupthink ... their inner lives here are less developed than the details of their wardrobes ... Prescott’s writing is putdownable. In a book this complicated, that’s a liability. It trundles on, full of interesting details and less interesting prose, with the occasional toe-stubber of a simile along the trail.