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3.88  ·  Rating Details ·  733 Ratings  ·  63 Reviews
World War II pilot Peter Marshall leads the most successful bombing crew at his airbase, having survived an unusual number of extremely dangerous missions over Germany. However, when Peter falls hopelessly in love with an attractive WAAF officer—one who insists that wartime duties should take precedence over emotions—his concentration begins to suffer. Soon it looks as tho ...more
Paperback, 285 pages
Published January 1st 2000 by House of Stratus (first published 1944)
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WWII Historic Fiction
151st out of 693 books — 658 voters
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World War II Fiction
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Community Reviews

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Sep 15, 2009 Alison rated it liked it
Though I much prefer A Town Like Alice and read it over every few years, this pastoral view of WWII has its own draw. You would think it would be about farming during the war, but more the healing effect of nature on those who must risk life to serve us. The romantic aspect touches deeply a part of human nature many of us have experienced. The idea that we fall in love at different times and some relationships are ruined before they even have a chance to begin. This one has a chance to heal in a ...more
Nov 19, 2009 Maura rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I almost always like Nevil Shute's books. I first read "A Town Like Alice" after the PBS series had been made, and that got me reading "On the Beach", and then anything else by him that I could find. This one is a very short novel, set in wartime Great Britain, about the romance between an RAF pilot and a WAAF working at the same airfield. It's just a quick little snapshot of wartime life and love. The only drawback is some of the dialogue is particular to the time and place, and so it's unfamil ...more
Feb 18, 2010 Michael rated it really liked it
I'm not sure why Nevil Shute isn't a better known writer, as this is the second book of his that ended up being absolutely wonderful. This story of a British bomber pilot during World War II who falls in love with a female officer felt realistic and romantic at the same time. Shute's real war-time experience could be seen throughout the book and his gift for writing strong, capable female characters has never been better. I'd definitely recommend this one.
Oct 15, 2011 Sue rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, england, wwii
Peter Marshall is a flight officer in the R.A.F. and Gervase Robertson is a signals officer in the W.A.A.F. during WWII. Both are stationed at Hartley Magna. Peter's work has him flying bomber missions over Germany. Gervase's job is to record the progress of the aircraft as they report back to the base during those missions. A romance between the two develops. For awhile, they can proceed with their work and not find the relationship interferring, but eventually it does, and decisions need to b ...more
Aug 24, 2012 Bookowl1000 rated it really liked it
I loved the story; the characters were very real, though the ending was a bit of a let down to me.
It is 'marketed' as a love story, though to me it there was more to the story than that. There were excellent descriptions of missions over occupied Europe, which would probably bore those interested in a love story. A good insight into life on a base during WWII
Bev Walkling
Mar 01, 2012 Bev Walkling rated it it was amazing
I've been rereading Nevil Shute books as my Mom has a collection of them in her room at the nursing home. It's rather like meeting old friends as I probably first read them in my early 20's. They tell of a different time and it is important when reading them to remember when they were written. Pastoral tells of a romance which develops at an airbase in WW2. It tells of the camraderie of men who go out on bombing sorties over Germany and how important teamwork and trust is if they wish to return ...more
Jun 17, 2015 5greenway rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I gather no one reads Nevil Shute any more, which at first seems odd, given how obsessed we are with the Second World War as our national foundation myth. Maybe it's because myths are basically lies and these books are at times uncomfortably true. Anyway, bombing Germany, fishing, and falling in love: what more would you want from a novel?
Rose Mary
Sep 24, 2012 Rose Mary rated it it was amazing

"Pastoral" was one of the many Nevil Shute novels I read when I was 12. I later ran into it again in 1973 in a British bookstore in Bangkok . At the time (the tail-end of the Viet Nam War) I was a WAF captain stationed at an air base on the central plateau of Thailand.

I wondered if Gervase Robertson, the heroine I had read so many years before, had led me there--into the Air Force in a time of war.
Jim Puskas
Aug 18, 2015 Jim Puskas rated it liked it
This book is about as straightforward as any that Shute wrote, no sudden time-shifts or paranormal twists (e.g. In the Wet, An Old Captivity etc.) In that regard, this one is similar to The Chequerboard or Ruined City. It's very old-fashioned as are all of Shute's books and quite romantic in Shute's quaint way, but not as engaging as Requiem for a Wren. An easy, inconsequential read, recommended only if you like Shute's style.
Dec 23, 2013 Elinor rated it it was amazing
Shelves: women-in-wartime
This author was a brilliant story-teller who, in his own quiet fashion, brings to life all the drama and passion of a nation at war. His characters are simply drawn but one feels instinctively that one knows them, and understands their pain. This story of a young pilot in love with one of the girls at his air base couldn't be more commonplace, yet at the same time is a hang-onto-the-edge-of-your-seat thriller. I'm filing it in my Women in Wartime bookshelf because the female character is equally ...more
Aug 23, 2013 Jenne rated it liked it
Well, as usual the gender politics are a little disturbing ("she began to understand the responsibility of being an attractive woman"--really??) but also as usual I couldn't put it down and found myself missing it once I finished. Pretty much your standard Nevil Shute experience.
Amy Heap
Oct 12, 2013 Amy Heap rated it liked it
Though it has been many years since I read A Town Like Alice, I think I enjoyed it much more than Pastoral. This is a very quiet, old fashioned story of two young people at a bomber station in WWII. Perhaps a bit blokey, with lots of detail about the planes and fishing. A sweet story, published in 1944 and seemingly very much of that time.
Reading with Cats
Nov 10, 2013 Reading with Cats rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Reading with Cats by: Zia
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 07, 2013 Scilla rated it it was amazing
Yet another great book by Shute. I don't know why I never read his books before. Peter Marshall is a bomber pilot at the Hartley aerodrome in Oxfordshire and falls in love with Gervase Robertson, a WAAF signal officer at the base. She isn't anxious to settle down right away. Peter and his crew have been together quite awhile and work well together. They also all like to fish. After Gervase tells Peter she isn't ready to marry him, and perhaps they shouldn't see each other, Peter becomes short wi ...more
Jan 27, 2016 Elisabeth rated it really liked it
Recommended to Elisabeth by: Claire @ The Captive Reader blog
I don't know what it is about Nevil Shute's writing that is so absorbing. It's the very essence of simplicity and understatement, filled with careful, seemingly mundane details of his characters' lives. Perhaps that's what makes it so lifelike. His characters are very human, very ordinary and yet interesting. The main plot of Pastoral also seems simple: a romance between a young R.A.F. bomber pilot and a girl from the W.A.A.F. signalers on his post. Their initial attraction and friendship and th ...more
Jun 12, 2014 Adam rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-in-2014
This was a pleasant enough read, but it loses a star due to the outdated gender attitudes. Given that it was written 70 years ago this shouldn't come as a surprise, but nevertheless it's not a book I'd encourage my daughters to read, at least not until they are old enough to snort in scorn at some of the motivations.
Harrison Wein
Oct 29, 2014 Harrison Wein rated it really liked it
Pastoral tells the story of a wartime romance in a careful, understated manner that slowly draws you in. Using a simple, elegant writing style, Shute creates a detached tone that lets him depict very harrowing situations in a way that lets you relate. The bombing mission scenes are intense, and you get a very vivid sense of the daily rhythms and challenges of life on an air base. The thoughts about teamwork and leadership seem very modern, if the gender politics aren't. Remember, though, that it ...more
Nov 19, 2014 Gale rated it it was amazing
“It all Started with a Fish”

Nevil Schute’s poignant love story set during the early years of WW1 will haunt readers long after the antic-climactic last paragraphs by an unknown 1st person narrator. It was an era of outstanding personal courage on the part of the pilots of the RAF—an era of
outstanding devotion to Britain’s gallant war effort by the dedicated women in the WAAF. Despite the misleading title (hinting of a story set in an idyllic countryside, with sheep grazing peacefully) PASTORAL
Feb 12, 2015 Elizabeth rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: wwii
Another of my string of Nevil Shute, World War II love stories. In this one, World War II pilot Peter Marshall leads the most successful bombing crew at his airbase, having survived an unusual number of extremely dangerous missions over Germany. But when he can't convince the WAAF officer of his dreams to marry him, his crew and missions are threatened by his distraction and disappointment. Again, the atmosphere is what grabs me. The characters are pretty stereotyped. My favorite of Shute's is T ...more
Mar 16, 2015 Al rated it liked it
Another of Mr. Shute's WW II novels. Published in 1944, this upbeat story features a budding romance between a young British bomber pilot and a WAAF section officer at an air base in England. The story moves slowly at first, but gathers momentum as the young woman initially rebuffs the pilot's advances, affecting his concentration on his flying. The latter stages of the novel come up more closely to Mr. Shute's usual narrative standards, particularly a moving set piece involving an elderly loca ...more
Vikas Datta
Mar 23, 2015 Vikas Datta rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A superb wartime story - evoking unforgettably the life of bomber pilots and the romance engendered among a section who never knew which mission could be their last. A number of well-drawn characters - somehow my favourite is Peter Johnson - round up the narrative while some scenes are breath-taking - the protagonist's desperate attempt to safely land his well-pranged aircraft while singing "A Nightingale sang in Berkeley Square" is one that will be well remembered after you have read this book. ...more
Ryan Middlebrook
Apr 10, 2015 Ryan Middlebrook rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: fans of good stories and fans of aircraft
Shelves: novels
Do you ever just want a good story? I’m not talking about a murder mystery, whodunnit, spy doublecross. I’m talking about a story with good characters with real emotions that you like. A story where it hardly matters where it goes because you’re just happy to go with it. For me, Pastoral was that kind of story.

Pastoral is a simple story of a Royal Air Force pilot that falls in love with a female officer on his base during the height of World War II. The situation of the time is tense (the main
Sharone Powell
Apr 27, 2015 Sharone Powell rated it it was ok
I liked learning about the lives of British pilot bombers in WWI and there is one very tense scene, which Shute describes in intricate, fascinating detail, since he was a pilot in the war, too. Still, the affair at the heart of the book was nothing special, especially since the character of the woman did not really make sense. This must be one of Shute's earlier novels, since the female characters in A Town Like Alice were much improved. If you've never read him, I'd recommend you start in the l ...more
Jul 06, 2015 Cathy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think I would have rated this three stars but my infatuation with Frank Muller narrations bumped it up to a four. An interesting love story, certainly. Set in WWII England, a talented young bomber pilot falls in love with a WAAF officer. The young woman rebuffs him, insisting that wartime duties take precedence over his embarrassing obsession. Then he falls to pieces, endangering himself and his crew. Uncomfortably, the young woman feels compelled to give her suitor a second chance, which she ...more
Mike Harper
Aug 07, 2015 Mike Harper rated it it was amazing
There isn't much wrong with this novel. Written in 1943, it describes a love affair between a British bomber pilot and a WAAF. I would like to think that the characters are realistically portrayed, because they're good-hearted, proficient, ethical and innocent despite the superheated atmosphere of WWII. Perhaps the description of the lovers is a bit naive, but that doesn't take away from the narrative.
The flying stories are highly realistic. That makes sense because Shute was an aircraft engine
Aug 22, 2015 Jenn rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015
I am continually astonished that in every book, Shute creates normal characters, who simply live their lives with integrity, honor, and hard work, and his writing captivates me to the point where I stay up much later than I should in order that I might finish his stories. This was, as is typical of Shute's stories, excellent.
Feb 06, 2016 Bob rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I can't help myself, 5 Stars, Nevil Shute has never failed to deliver a great story. This one just makes you feel good.
Aug 02, 2016 SmartBitches rated it really liked it
Shelves: classics, b-grade
Full review at Smart Bitches, Trashy Books

Back when my mom was growing up and general practitioner doctors were the norm, people used to refer to having a family doctor. We don’t have a family doctor, but we do have a family author (as in, an author the family loves, not an author to whom we are related). All the women on my mom’s half of the family, and there are a ton of us, are obsessed with the writings of Nevil Shute. I don’t know that many Americans that stockpile Nevil Shute books like we
Peter Marshall is a WWII bomber pilot. He and his crew have a superb record of success in a very large number of raids over Germany. After falling in love with WAAF Officer Gervase Robertson and proposing to her, she turns him down saying that her professional wartime responsibilities must take precedence over what she might feel for him. This rejection causes him concentration to slip with a resulting decrease in his efficiency as a pilot and friction with his crew.

Peter makes an unusual offer
Kate Millin
Oct 01, 2016 Kate Millin rated it it was amazing
A moving story about the pilot of a Hurricane and the effect a romance with a WAAF on the airbase has on him and his aircrew. It is an interesting look at the psychology of success at a time when many men were lost in bombing raids over Germany. It also takes into account the pressures on the women on how they respond to advances from the men, no matter how nice the men are
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Nevil Shute Norway was a popular British novelist and a successful aeronautical engineer.

He used Nevil Shute as his pen name, and his full name in his engineering career, in order to protect his engineering career from any potential negative publicity in connection with his novels.

He lived in Australia for the ten years before his death.
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