“character” in Eye of the Needle by Ken Follett

Posted by Lew Weinstein on June 1, 2007

·     Faber is of course the villain. But he is also patriotic, enormously competent, and capable of feelings, which he must repress in order to carry out his mission. He is an wonderful lover, which he could not be if he were truly without feeling, no matter how much he will not allow himself to express it. This complex character must be admired even as we hate and fear him. A remarkable achievement.   ·     Lucy starts out as a dominated young woman, who chooses to escape to her father-in-law’s island rather than live among people. But in her relative solitude, she develops an unexpected resolve, and when facing the ultimate challenge, she rises to it. Is what she does believable? Maybe not, although in wartime people do extraordinary things. In any case, Follett portrays this larger-than-life character in a way that arouses the reader’s emotions as we root for her to succeed against overwhelming odds. The final scenes and epilogue drew tears from this romantic reader, always a sucker for melodrama.   ·     Godliman (what a name! I’d like to know where Follett found it) is the enabler of the story, providing the narrative links that eventually lead Faber to Lucy. But how much better to provide these through an interesting character than through narrative prose. Godliman’s growth from nebbish professor to razor-sharp spycatcher is done a little quickly. We can believe it, but we would like to know more about him. Perhaps as #3 character, he doesn’t warrant more attention.


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