Summary and Analysis Chapter 15



When Isabelle leaves for Paris, Beck becomes friendlier, bringing home a fish to share with Vianne and Sophie. With Isabelle’s absence, Vianne realizes that the tension between her and Beck is gone, and she wonders if this is good or bad.

Isabelle arrives in war-torn Paris and discovers that her father’s bookshop has been abandoned. She goes to his apartment and waits for him there, thinking of all of the times she has begged him to let her stay. When he arrives, he demands that she leave, but she refuses. He explains that the Nazis destroyed most of his books and music, and he now works for the German high command.

Isabelle delivers her message for the resistance, and her contact requests a meeting the following day.


When Isabelle learns that her father is working for the German high command, she viciously condemns him; he simply accepts the abuse. Isabelle interprets the look on his face as a look of shame. However, she will later discover that he has been working for the French resistance all along and that he took a job working for the Germans in order to spy on them more effectively. Thus, Julien faces a situation in which he cannot possibly earn Isabelle’s respect: If he weren’t working for the resistance, she would wish that he were, but because he is, he must pretend that he is not.

This double bind is strikingly similar to the one Isabelle faced with Vianne. Both Isabelle and Julien must sacrifice their reputation with someone they love in order to do something secretly heroic.

Back to Top