Fans of the historical fiction novel The Secrets We Kept took a closer look into the history behind the book with its author Lara Prescott on Thursday evening, November 12. An Evening with Lara Prescott was the signature event for this fall’s One Book, One Village (OBOV), the Arlington Heights Memorial Library’s (AHML) annual community read.
It was also the first time the library held a virtual One Book, One Village signature author event, leading to AHML welcoming its largest audience to date for an online program with more than 390 people in attendance via Zoom.
The Secrets We Kept was selected as the book for OBOV 2020 through a community vote held earlier this year. Since August when AHML announced The Secrets We Kept, copies of the book have circulated more than 1,700 times.
Prescott’s debut novel follows the parallel stories of three women – two CIA typists-turned-spies and a literary muse in Soviet Russia. It traces the real-life tale of the Cold War-era CIA operation that led to not only the publication of Doctor Zhivago, but also its proliferation around the world.
“I want to go way back to the inspiration behind The Secrets We Kept, and of course I have to start with my parents,” Prescott said when beginning her presentation. “They named me Lara after the heroine in Doctor Zhivago. I grew up with the knowledge that I was named after this woman who I've seen played in the movie by Julie Christie.”
Prescott continued her presentation, talking more in-depth about the life of Boris Pasternak, the history behind the publication of Doctor Zhivago, and gave attendees a closer look into her research for the book, which included photos from her trip to Russia, a look into CIA documents and photos of her own original copies of Doctor Zhivago.
After her presentation, Prescott answered a variety of questions from the audience and from Info Services Advisors Alisa Stanfield and Joan Lasky.
“I think your program of using books to bring community together is the reason why I'm a writer,” Prescott said teary-eyed, in appreciation of One Book, One Village. “Hearing that my book helped people during this time has been a thrill in my life, so thank you.”
An Evening with Lara Prescott was supported, in part, by the Friends of the Library.