Several critics have expressed appreciation for Follett's fine ability to expand upon historical fact when concocting plots for his novels. Robert Lekachman in Nation magazine praises Follett's ability to create a "variation upon history."
The complex plot of Eye of the Needle, for example, is based upon the secret Allied plan to conceal the actual landing site of the D-Day forces during World War II. In 1944, through an elaborate hoax, the Allies hoped to convince the Germans that the D-Day invasion would take place at Calais rather than Normandy. Although there were very few German spies working in Britain, Follett creates a clever Nazi agent who discovers this key Allied plan and attempts to reveal the information to Hitler. Thus, Follett's plot contains elements of both fact and fiction, a combination which adds a vital dynamic to the novel's fascination. Follett's talent for capturing a reader's curiosity concerning historical events accounts for much of the novel's popular success, or at least, as Follett states, "one suspects something like this must have happened."
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