This book is based on the true revelation that the CIA used Dr. Zhivago to spread the message about life under communism in the Soviet Union. The story is told from multiple perspectives with two of them being young woman who work as spies (Irina and Sally) during the height of the Cold War. They become involved with the CIA’s plan to get copies of Dr. Zhivago into the Soviet Union where it had been banned because of its portrayal of life under Communism. In addition to the spy saga, the story of Pasternak and his real-life lover Olga (the model for Lara) is interwoven throughout. The story is set in multiple locations including the CIA headquarters in Washington DC, Seattle, to the brutalities of Gulag, and the Soviet Union.
There is also the underlying story of intelligent women being held back because of their gender. Educated women in the 1950s found that after graduating college there was little for them other than marriage or the typing pool. Both Irina and Sally found ways to forge a different life in the CIA.
I enjoyed the contrast in the East versus West and felt the back and forth between multiple perspectives was successfull for the most part. I found myself wishish the book was more focused on the women who worked for the CIA. This to me was the most interesting part of the book and I would have liked either more depth to their stories or additional stories told.
I was expecting more of a spy thriller but it reads as more of a historical romance. Overall I enjoyed the book but if you go in expecting action you will be disappointed.