The Diamond Eye: A Novel Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
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Audible Audiobook, Unabridged
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The New York Times bestselling author of The Rose Code returns with an unforgettable World War II tale of a quiet librarian who becomes history’s deadliest female sniper. Based on a true story.
In the snowbound city of Kiev, wry and bookish history student Mila Pavlichenko organizes her life around her library job and her young son—but Hitler’s invasion of 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.
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|Listening Length||12 hours and 51 minutes|
|Audible.ca Release Date||March 29 2022|
|Best Sellers Rank|| #100 in Audible Books & Originals (See Top 100 in Audible Books & Originals) |
#2 in War Fiction (Books)
#6 in Historical Fiction (Audible Books & Originals)
#6 in Women's Fiction (Audible Books & Originals)
Top reviews from Canada
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I purchased a copy as soon as it was released. Fortunately it was on sale at 40% off, but I could have gotten a copy from the library, for free (and it was immediately available through Overdrive/Libby!).
I did enjoy the writing, as expected, although it was repetitive in some parts, but I wasn’t a fan of the development of the storyline. I don’t think that the structure was very favourable here. There was something missing.
I wasn’t engaged or fascinated the way I was with her previous books, and I was bored most of the time.
If I hadn’t purchased a copy I would have stopped at 20%.
The book could have been shorter.
As for the characters, I really did not care for anyone.
Unfortunately this one did not impress me, but I have no doubt that it will be a hit with other readers.
It was amazing, happy, funny, sad all together.
A great story and one to pass on.
Top reviews from other countries
Mila, who is the narrator for most of the book, was an extremely successful sniper in the Soviet Army, and had killed at least 309 of the enemy during the Second World War, though she had been hospitalized three times with injuries from German shell fire. In August 1942 the Soviet government sent her to the United States to play a part in the propaganda war: she was to tell her story and to press for more American help to Russia (like opening the Second Front). She was a great success in America and became a close friend of the First Lady, Eleanor Roosevelt.
Mila had, at the age of 15, married a surgeon, Alexei Pavlichenko. In the novel they had separated by 1937, and were in the process of being divorced, but Alexei had twice failed to turn up to the meetings that would finalize the divorce. In the book, they never would be formally divorced: Alexei tried to win her back and would not be rebuffed by her. He kept on turning up in her life. In the end, in 1942, he tried to kill her, but she got in first. None of this happened; for, in fact, Alexei had divorced Mila soon after her marriage, and the author’s note says that Mila’s autobiography records her last meeting with him as having been in 1938.
So she was free to marry again, and in fact she did marry her commander, Lieutenant Lyonya Kitsenko, shortly before he was killed. In the novel, however, she was unable to do so because she was still married to Alexei.
In the book she eventually married Kostia, a fellow sniper who always covered her back. He was a fluent English-speaker and accompanied her to the United States as her interpreter. But Kostia has been created by the author.
The author’s most dramatic invention is an unnamed marksman, who had been paid by a handler (also unnamed) to assassinate President Roosevelt. (No such plot existed.) He posed as a journalist and as such had access to conferences arranged by the White House. He did not believe that Mila was a sniper, but, because she had become famous as such, he planned to arrange things in such a way that, although he would kill the President, Mira would be seen as the assassin. He constantly followed her, and sent her several anonymous notes threatening her with death.
All the characters in the book – real and invented – are convincingly described – Mila’s, especially, is rounded, complex and interesting; and the novel is a real thriller. Most readers will not be interested in, or bothered by, the differences between fact and fiction.
I had been impressed last year by Quinn’s WWII novel, ‘The Rose Code’ and how well she had blended real life events and historical figures into the narrative.
In ‘The Diamond Eye’ she focuses her story around the life of Mila Pavlichenko, an aspiring historian who in 1937 was living in Kyiv (Kiev), Soviet Union. Her life revolves around her academic work and her young son until Hitler’s invasion of Russia changes everything.
Mila had already acquired an Advanced Marksman Certificate before the invasion. She quickly signs up and is assigned to an elite sniper unit. There her gifts are honed to perfection. She gains a reputation and acquires the name Lady Death.
In 1942 Mila is selected to be part of a Soviet delegation to the USA. Their mission is to convince President Roosevelt to commit resources to the war in Europe and specifically to the Soviet Union. Mila is perceived as an oddity though finds an unexpected ally in First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. Yet she is unaware that she is being closely observed by a man only identified to us as the Marksman. He appears to have nefarious plans.
Quinn moves between Mila’s harrowing experiences on the Eastern Front and her being feted around the United States. On occasion there are Notes by the First Lady as well as brief extracts from Mila’s official and unofficial memoirs.
I found Mila an accessible protagonist and especially appreciated her frustration at the way she was treated in the States: “I wish they’d stop calling me the girl sniper,” the marksman heard her mutter in Russian … “Only in America can you be a soldier and twenty-six, and still be a girl.”
Quinn’s Author’s Note provides details of how she first encountered Mila Pavlichenko when researching an earlier novel and felt that her extraordinary life story warranted its own novel. Quinn includes a bibliography, internet resources, and even film references. There is also a section of historical photographs.
Overall, I found this an excellent work of historical fiction with elements of a political thriller woven into the story. It’s climax certainly proved nail-biting.