The Diamond Eye: A Novel

The Diamond Eye: A Novel Audible Audiobook – Unabridged

4.6 out of 5 stars 4,763 ratings

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From the New York Times bestselling author. Don't miss The Diamond Eye.

Product details

Listening Length 12 hours and 51 minutes
Author Kate Quinn
Narrator Saskia Maarleveld
Whispersync for Voice Ready Release Date March 29, 2022
Publisher HarperAudio
Program Type Audiobook
Version Unabridged
Language English
Best Sellers Rank #102 in Audible Books & Originals (See Top 100 in Audible Books & Originals)
#1 in World War II Historical Fiction (Audible Books & Originals)
#3 in War & Military Fiction
#5 in World War II Historical Fiction (Books)

Customer reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5
4,763 global ratings

Top reviews from the United States

Reviewed in the United States on April 30, 2022
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5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing book!
Reviewed in the United States on April 30, 2022
‘Odds are you’ve never heard of Lyudmila Pavlichenko’ – the author’s note to ‘The Diamond Eye’ reads. I might be one of the few people outside of the former USSR countries who, in fact did know.

I found out that Lyudmila Pavlichenko existed because of a song. It was a movie soundtrack I found while mindlessly scrolling in YouTube. The song was in Russian, at the time I could barely get what it was about, but it turned out that the video was a movie trailer. I watched over and over the short video about a woman who is shipped off to war and decided ‘why not dig the movie out?’. If anyone likes to hear the song, it is named ‘Kukushka’ (cuckoo in Russian) and the singer is Polina Gagarina, whom I found out to be a famous Russian singer later on, but at the time I knew nothing of.

So, there I was, trying to find the movie and I spent the whole evening of International women’s day (8th of March) watching a Russian WWII movie adaptation. The name of the movie is ‘The Battle for Sevastopol’ and I probably missed like half of the military terminology BUT I laughed, cried and cheered with the main character. At the time I didn’t even know that Lyudmila was not a fictional character, it looked too out of place for WWII to have a woman with so many deaths on her account. A woman sniper, right? Well, nope, I didn't believe that.

So I Googled her and there I was, in March 2019, when I first found out who Lyudmila Pavlichenko was. I found out she wrote a memoir and I wanted to read it but I didn’t trust my Russian with that. The book wasn’t translated to Bulgarian and I somehow doubted it had an English version (and was too lazy to look it up), so I guessed that it would be too difficult for me, hence decided to wait a bit. The story went to the back of my mind as one of those weird historical facts I know, but nothing more. I hoped one day to be able to find the memoir and read it, but this was nothing sort of urgent.

Until Lyudmila looked me in the eye from the shelves of a bookstore just across the office where I work. I was in there on my lunch break and saw her memoir, translated in Bulgarian. First row of books, newly published and translated for the first time because of the WWII anniversary that was coming next year.

Do I need to mention I snagged the moment I got my paycheck? I spent the next three nights (I was at work during the day) reading the thin, but filled with facts book and just fell through time. It was in 2019, so some of the sniper specifics are out of my head now, but it was an interesting insight into the life of an extraordinary lady who documented the events with all the enthusiasm and responsibility of a historian. She somehow knew those events will matter and documented them. How the notes she wrote survived is something that still amazes me, but they did. I read that all and instantly started admiring that woman who overcame all odds and beat the men at their own game. I even researched a bit more and it turned out her memoir was censored before publication (not that it surprised me) and probably it was a little bit less filled with political propaganda (which was there).

When Kate announced she is writing Lyudmila’s story, I was over the moon. I so much wanted to read her interpretation of the story! I had already seen one in the movie I watched, so I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the book. I eagerly waited until the book came out and ordered on launch day. Then couldn’t wait to have it delivered. Then I vowed to have the book and read it in one go. I couldn’t, for one reason or another BUT the book keep finding time for me. One page turned easily to 50 or 100 at a go, because Kate tells stories the way you simply NEED to keep reading!

So much so, that this book kept me until 3 a.m. a few times because you cannot simply read ‘just a chapter’ of it. It wouldn’t leave you and the story just plunges you in war-torn Ukrainian USSR. You just see and feel what the character does and love and hate and cry with her. You cheer for her and hate her enemies. And that is said by a person who has read the original memoir and knows most of things in the book are supposed to be! I even found myself comparing the two in my mind and I like Kate's book better (I'll tell you why below). The book kept me on edge, entertained and crying for the ones Mila loses in the story and in real life. There are quite a few, but the man she meets on the battlefield is probably the most tragic one of all, full of what-ifs and would-bes...

There is still something new to discover, a new angle of the story. The real Lyudmila is cold, distant and factual most of the time, her memoir zigzagging between the real horror story and tragedy she lived through, the dark humour of frontline life and the sweeping Soviet propaganda on almost every page (yep, I am not making this up, propaganda is almost everywhere, but the memoir is surprisingly readable and not at all boring).

Lyudmila in Kate’s book is much more than the distinguished woman from the momoir. She loves, hates and has almost all vice and virtue a woman of 24 could have at the time (and even some surprisingly modern, but absolutely believable ones, if you know the real historical figure). She has some very clear motives for joining the war (which I love, as the memoir is vague on that) and some even clearer opinions on how the war went. I absolutely love how Kate filled in the gaps in the timeline and the facts that were missing in the memoir. If you read the memoir, you are left with bitterness as you see a woman who has been put behind the desk as a trainer with body and mind wrecked by the war and whose heart is empty cold as the tundra. She had served her country and sacrificed her life for it.

Not in ‘The Diamond Eye’! I love the ending, it was a surprise, it gives resolution and peace to a soul that had very much earned it. I really hope that real-life Lyudmila got this kind of an ending – a peaceful happy life with her loved ones (and I know, I am spoiling the ending for you BUT I’m not gonna tell you how she gets to that point, read the book!).

I keep comparing the book to the memoir, but I couldn’t help it, as I see two Lyudmila’s. The one in the memoir is a cut-out from a propaganda poster, the text heavily edited to suit its purpose. Trust me, anyone who has lived in a totalitarian state can tell this – I may not have seen those times in Bulgaria, but can spot a text that went through a thousand cuts for the sake of the Motherland. Where the cuts have missed, you could see the real Lyudmila smiling from across the decades and this is the image you will see in ‘The Diamond Eye’. Not a blind idealist, but a mother hell-bent on defending her son, sense of justice and land.

Speaking of the facts, the fiction is way less than you think – trust me, I still remember the memoir I read back in 2019 – so most of the things you would find in the book are hard truth, told to us by Lyudmila herself. Where there IS fiction, it is so logical to be there and fits the story so well, that you can’t help but wonder ‘what if this was also true and the propaganda machine simply had cut it out from the original tale’.

This book is one of those you want to start reading all over again once you turn the last page. It just such an immersing read, so well-written (and I am saying that as a non-native speaker to English who stumbles on odd military terms here and there) that you just forget it’s just a book and you feel part of the action. You are there in the sniper’s nest or at the press conference, you see the world through the eyes of the characters and… OK, I could keep on like that, but I will spoil the whole book for you, so my advice here is to simply go and read :)
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Reviewed in the United States on April 4, 2022
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Reviewed in the United States on April 30, 2022
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Reviewed in the United States on April 22, 2022
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Reviewed in the United States on April 3, 2022
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Reviewed in the United States on April 18, 2022
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5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing story!
Reviewed in the United States on April 18, 2022
Kate Quinn is a mastermind of finding the incredible story and making it not only relatable but woven into your memory! Alice is still my favorite but Mika’s courage, lack of tact, and incredible determination makes her a woman I can relate to on a totally different level!
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Reviewed in the United States on April 30, 2022
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Reviewed in the United States on May 11, 2022

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