Book: The Diamond Eye by Kate Quinn
Publisher: William Morrow & Company
Publication date: 2022
Source: Borrowed e-book from the library
Summary: In 1937, Mila Pavlichenko is a Ukranian historian with a job in a library and a son that she is raising on her own. An unpleasant encounter with the boy’s father leads Mila to take up shooting so that she has the skills to pass on to her son. Marksmanship turns out to be a hidden talent for her, just when the Soviet Union needs that skill as Hitler invades.
As we learned in Quinn’s earlier book, The Huntress, the Soviet Union was more willing to insert women into combat than other nations who fought in World War II. Mila Pavlichenko was a sniper in charge of a unit of snipers. The nickname ‘Lady Death’ honors her success.
When she reaches 300 confirmed kills, Pavlichenko becomes more useful as a promotional tool to get the United States to join the war. That puts her on a path to share space with Eleanor Roosevelt while dealing with an unknown threat.
The Diamond Eye felt a little different, partly because it was more from one character’s point of view and partly because (it turns out) it more closely follows a true story. I didn’t learn that until I read the author’s notes at the end — that was a fun surprise!
Appeal: Obviously, Kate Quinn fans will want to read this book. Here are some other reasons to pick up The Diamond Eye:
- You’re in the mood for a strong female character
- You like bookish characters who do extraordinary things in extraordinary times
- You want to learn more about the Soviet experience of World War II
Challenge: The World War II setting takes us through Russia, Ukraine, and the US. The thriller aspect makes this an exciting read for the historical fiction enthusiasts participating in the The Historical Fiction Reading Challenge.
Further reading: Eleanor Roosevelt keeps popping up in my reading. She had a big presence in this book and a smaller one in A Sunlit Weapon. I also mentioned her twice in my A to Z posts because she prodded the armed forces into make better use of women and of Black people.
That’s how I find myself in the midst of reading Eleanor Roosevelt: The Early Years, the first of three volumes by Blanche Wiesen Cook. This is a huge undertaking that I wasn’t quite prepared for. I’m barely half-way through and I’ve been working on it for weeks. Then, there will be two more volumes! I’m entranced, though, so I’ll keep going.
Have you read this book? What did you think?