‘Based on the real story of a #WW2 female sniper.’ Rosie’s #Bookreview Of The Diamond Eye by @KateQuinnAuthor #TuesdayBookBlog @HarperCollinsUK

The Diamond EyeThe Diamond Eye by Kate Quinn

5 stars

The Diamond Eye is a World War Two tale, based on the real story of a female sniper in the Russian army.

Teenage bride then single mother and history student, Mila signed up to fight for her family’s future as Germany invaded Russia’s borders.

This is a the story of just one of the many female heroines of war. Mila fought on the Eastern Front and her official sniper kill number was 309. This may have been higher; often kills weren’t verified in the chaos of war. The number could also have been lower as much of the history about Mila’s life came from a memoir written for propaganda purposes.  Part of that propaganda involved sending Mila along with other Russian students to America in 1942; their role was to help persuade the American President to commit to joining the war by providing a second front in Europe to divert Hitler’s attentions.

There’s an interesting format to the book; chapters pass back and forth between the fight in Russia and the student delegation in America. Dotted in between are notes from the First Lady, Eleanor Roosevelt, who is said to have befriended Mila during her visit; they remained friends after the war. Often Mila’s chapters begin with an official line from her memoir and then her ‘real’ propaganda-free thoughts and memories of what happened.

I liked it. A lot. Quinn has an ability to make her characters come alive and the details of the settings and atmosphere took me to the heart of the battlefields and beyond as we followed Mila’s life. I always enjoy the extra notes from the author, found at the back of the book, where you get to hear what inspired the story, what they had to work with and how they gave it a literary spin.

Having already enjoyed reading previous war themed books written by Quinn, I was delighted to see a couple of connections, in this book, to the magnificent, Nina from The Huntress. I can happily recommend this to fans of war fiction.

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Desc 1

In 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.

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Of #WW2 #Histfic WHILE PARIS SLEPT by Ruth Druart

While Paris SleptWhile Paris Slept by Ruth Druart

3 stars

While Paris Slept is World War Two historical fiction, and is the story of two Parisian couples.  David and Sarah were loaded onto one of the last trains to Auschwitz; in desperation Sarah gave her newly born baby to a railway worker before she was forced onto the train.

Jean-Luc repaired the Paris railway lines used to transport Jews to the work camp; he hated working for the Germans and wanted to do something to stop them. When a French women desperately forced her baby into his arms before she was herded onto one of the trains, he vowed to look after it. On that day he shot a guard. Fearing the Germans, he left Paris with his girlfriend Charlotte; they went south, escaping to Spain and then America with baby Samuel.

Years later David and Sarah searched for Samuel; they wanted him back, but taking a nine-year-old away from all that he knew was handled badly and didn’t work out the way that they hoped.

The story moves back and forth between several characters in two timelines: 1944 and 1953. The ending tugged on my emotional strings, but I’m afraid that it was the only part of the book which I empathised with.

I’m a fan of books set in this era, but this book didn’t work for me; too many convenient events and situations made this feel like I was hearing about someone else’s story, rather than believing the one being played by these characters. Where was the grit, tension and real fear of arrest from the Germans? Where were the emotions and despair which surrounded the horrors of Auschwitz?

This is a long book, told from multiple points of view; I found myself frustrated by parts which added very little to the story, while other areas glossed over important facts. For instance, the escape through France and across The Pyrenees would have been fraught with terror and hardships, while I doubt very much that you could have walked into the house of a resistance member with ease. Once they got to Spain, it would have been extremely dangerous in the foothills, yet our heroes were welcomed into the first farmhouse that they came to.  

A good story potentially exists within the covers of this book; I just wanted it to have deeper character development and a bit more work on making the plot plausible for my liking. I’m sure that there will be readers who will find this story lovely, but I found it disappointing.

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Book description

A family’s love is tested when heroes-turned-criminals are forced to make the hardest decisions of their lives in this unforgettably moving story of love, resistance, and the lasting consequences of the Second World War.

After. Santa Cruz, California, 1953. Jean-Luc and Charlotte Beauchamps have left their war-torn memories of Paris behind to live a quiet life in America with their son, Sam. They have a house in the suburbs, they’ve learned to speak English, and they have regular get-togethers with their outgoing American neighbors. Every minute in California erases a minute of their lives before — before the Germans invaded their French homeland and incited years of violence, hunger, and fear. But their taste of the American Dream shatters when officers from the U.N. Commission on War Crimes pull-up outside their home and bring Jean-Luc in for questioning.

Before. Paris, France, 1944. Germany has occupied France for four years. Jean-Luc works at the railway station at Bobigny, where thousands of Jews travel each day to be “resettled” in Germany. But Jean-Luc and other railway employees can’t ignore the rumors or what they see on the tracks: too many people are packed into the cars, and bodies are sometimes left to be disposed of after a train departs. Jean-Luc’s unease turns into full-blown panic when a young woman with bright green eyes bursts from the train one day alongside hundreds of screaming, terrified passengers, and pushes a warm, squirming bundle into his arms.

Told from alternating perspectives, While Paris Slept reflects on the power of love, loss, and the choices a mother will make to ensure the survival of her child. At once a visceral portrait of family ties and a meditation on nurture’s influence over identity, this heartbreaking debut will irreversibly take hold of your heart.

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