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Marie-Laure Leblanc, a blind girl in the French city of Saint-Malo, waits for her great-uncle to return to their home, where unbeknownst to her the Allied forces prepare to bomb the city. Werner Pfennig, a young soldier, prepares for the raids, and he reflects on his childhood and his sister, Jutta. Ten years prior, Marie-Laure learns from her father the story of a diamond called the Sea of Flames. When she loses her eyesight, her father builds a model of their neighborhood to help her navigate. Around this time, Werner and Jutta live in an orphanage where he becomes adept at operating a radio.
Read a full Summary & Analysis of Part 0 & Part 1: “7 August 1944” through “Light”
As Germany rises to power, both Marie-Laure and Werner display intellectual curiosities and wonder about their futures, but their lives are soon uprooted. When Marie-Laure and her father flee Paris, the museum tasks her father and three other colleagues to take a Sea of Flames diamond (only one of them being the real one). After fixing the radio of a Nazi official, Werner is recommended to join a state school to help the war effort..
Read a full Summary & Analysis of Part 1: “Our Flag Flutters Before Us” Through “Exodus”
In Saint-Malo in 1944, the bombing starts. Back in 1940, Marie-Laure and her father travel to Saint-Malo to seek refuge with her great-uncle, Etienne. She learns about Etienne’s history from Madame Manec and how his psyche was damaged after World War I. Werner is accepted to a prestigious military school, but saying goodbye to Jutta proves difficult..
Read a full Summary & Analysis of Part 2 & Part 3: “Saint-Malo” through “Jungmänner”
Major Reinhold von Rumpel, a gemologist working for the Nazis, sets his sights on locating the Sea of Flames diamond. Marie-Laure develops a fond relationship with Etienne, who shows her the various secrets of the house and tells her stories about his brother, Henri, whom he once recorded a program with and which Etienne transmits. Werner, under the supervision of Volkheimer, works in a laboratory. Under German occupation, all of Saint-Malo is forced to give up their radios, but Marie-Laure and Etienne hide a radio away. Marie-Laure’s father is recalled to Paris, a summoning which increases his anxieties regarding the possibility that he has the real diamond. Before he goes, he leaves Marie-Laure with a model of Saint-Malo that she begins to memorize.
Read a full Summary & Analysis of Part 3: “Vienna” through “The Arrest of the Locksmith”
In 1944 during a pause in the bombing, von Rumpel makes his way to Etienne’s house. In 1940, Frederick refuses to participate in the torture of a prisoner and subsequently receives daily beatings from the other boys. He is sent to the hospital, and this incident causes Werner extreme guilt for not helping his friend. From Madame Manec, Marie-Laure learns of the women’s acts of resistance. After learning that Marie-Laure’s father was taken to a German prison camp, Etienne prohibits Madame Manec and Marie-Laure from engaging in resistant activities.
Read a full Summary & Analysis of Part 4 & Part 5
In 1944, Marie-Laure is forced to hide as von Rumpel rummages through Etienne’s house in search of the diamond. Werner, trapped in a cellar, attempts to fix a radio so they can call for help. Back in the past, and following the death of Madame Manec, Etienne and Marie-Laure continue their surreptitious acts of resistance. In Paris, von Rumpel discovers a model of the neighborhood Marie-Laure’s father made and surmises that there may be secret compartments inside of model homes that could surely contain the diamond. On the front, Werner locates illegal radio transmissions. Marie-Laure reads into her radio, and Werner is shocked by the sound of her voice.
Read a full Summary & Analysis of Part 6, Part 7, & Part 8
Before the bombing, Werner is stationed in Saint-Malo and hears Marie-Laure’s illegal broadcast of Etienne and Henri, recognizing the voice from a program he heard in his youth. He finds the signal’s location and sees Marie-Laure, whose identity and illicit actions he keeps to himself. Marie-Laure finds a gemstone in the model of Etienne’s house. Von Rumpel arrests Etienne. Marie Laure, in hiding, plays the piano over the radio, prompting Werner to escape the rubble and rush to Marie-Laure’s home where he kills von Rumpel. Werner helps Marie-Laure, and after the bombing stops, Marie-Laure and Etienne reunite, while Werner is arrested and eventually dies.
Read a full Summary & Analysis of Part 9 & Part 10
In 1974, Volkheimer receives Werner’s belongings in hopes that they can be returned to his next of kin. After Jutta receives the stash, she finds a model house and travels to Saint-Malo to investigate who it belonged to. Marie-Laure now works at the museum in Paris where Jutta returns the model house. She finds the key to Etienne’s grotto, and it is implied that the diamond was left locked there.
Read a full Summary & Analysis of Part 11, Part 12, & Part 13