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Review: The Diamond Eye by Kate Quinn

Title: The Diamond Eye
Author: Kate Quinn
Year published: 2022
Category: Adult fiction (historical)
Pages: 448 pages
Rating: 4 out of 5

Location: (my 2022 Google Reading map)Ukraine and USA

SummaryIn 1937 in the snowbound city of Kiev (now known as Kyiv), wry and bookish history student Mila Pavlichenko organizes her life around her library job and her young son—but Hitler’s invasion of Ukraine and Russia sends her on a different path. Given a rifle and sent to join the fight, Mila must forge herself from studious girl to deadly sniper—a lethal hunter of Nazis known as Lady Death. When news of her three hundredth kill makes her a national heroine, Mila finds herself torn from the bloody battlefields of the eastern front and sent to America on a goodwill tour.

Still reeling from war wounds and devastated by loss, Mila finds herself isolated and lonely in the glittering world of Washington, DC—until an unexpected friendship with First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt and an even more unexpected connection with a silent fellow sniper offer the possibility of happiness. But when an old enemy from Mila’s past joins forces with a deadly new foe lurking in the shadows, Lady Death finds herself battling her own demons and enemy bullets in the deadliest duel of her life.

Based on a true story, The Diamond Eye is a haunting novel of heroism born of desperation, of a mother who became a soldier, of a woman who found her place in the world and changed the course of history forever.

Review: A new Kate Quinn book was just what I wanted (My reviews of The Rose Code and The Alice Network) then Covid totally derailed me from reading for about 10 days. I am so glad my focus came back and that I was able to read this book!

Kate Quinn is just so good at doing historical fiction! She creates scenes, characters, and plots that are engrossing and bring me in from page one. I know, she is dealing with real people and events, but she puts it all together so well and makes me care about the characters. And Mila is so very interesting. A woman sniper? In WWII? Not something I would normally care about, but Quinn brings the reader into Mila's life and career through personalization and showing us her struggle and triumphs.

I also liked the dichotomy of life in the Soviet Union during war time (the killing, family, and hardships) with Mila's tour of the United States as part of a propaganda effort to get US aid. US reporters were shocked that a woman was fighting in the war while the Soviets felt it was normal because of gender equality in their country. I thought these scenes were really well done and did a good job of showing how important perspective is.

And the After Word. Always a hit with me and this one is super interesting as it lays out all the truths in the book (about 95% of it!).  

Challenges for which this counts: 
  • Alphabet (Author)--Q
  • Literary Escapes--Ukraine
  • Big Book Summer Challenge

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