Eye of the Needle

by Ken Follett

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Summarize Eye of the Needle, including its setting, themes, and characters.

Quick answer:

The setting of Eye of the Needle is Europe during World War Two. It follows a German spy as he tries to procure secret information about D-Day.

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The setting for Ken Follett’s spy thriller is Europe. The action mainly takes place in England, and on Storm Island specifically. It’s the early 194os, so World War Two is in full swing. D-Day is coming up, which means thousands of Allied troops are about to invade the coast of Normandy and begin to take back continental Europe from Nazi Germany.

What Henry Faber has to figure out is when and where the invasion will happen. A Nazi spy, Faber is depicted as cool and competent. When he believes that his landlady has caught on to his secret identity, he entices her with the promise of sex and then calmly kills her with a stiletto. Even throwing up doesn’t faze Faber.

David Rose’s character is not so collected. The loss of his legs has made him angry and discontent. When Lucy, his wife, tells him that she’s pregnant, David is derisive. He calls himself a “legless f—king joke.”

As the story unfolds, Faber winds up on the run and in the care of Lucy. He and Lucy have an affair because Faber provides her with the intimacy that David withholds. Once David discovers Faber's situation, things change. Faber kills David and then Lucy takes out Faber before he can tell Nazi Germany about where the Allies will land.

Considering the key role that Lucy plays in the narrative, one could say that feminism is a critical theme.

One’s opinion of the book will vary. Someone might find the sex scenes excessive, another person might like the quirky aspects of Faber, while a third person might contend that the ending was unimaginative.

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