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Pastoral

3.86 of 5 stars 3.86  ·  rating details  ·  593 ratings  ·  52 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
145th out of 549 books — 399 voters
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4th out of 64 books — 13 voters


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Community Reviews

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Rose Mary


"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.
Michael
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.
Bev Walkling
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
Alison
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
Ryan Middlebrook
Apr 10, 2015 Ryan Middlebrook rated it 4 of 5 stars
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
...more
Elisabeth
Aug 27, 2014 Elisabeth rated it 4 of 5 stars
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
Sue
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
Gale
“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
...more
Al
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
Jenne
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.
Harrison Wein
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
Vikas Datta
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
Elizabeth
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
Scilla
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
Sharone Powell
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
Angela Davies
I've read this book a couple of times in the past and I've enjoyed it just as much thus tine round. Neville Shute tells a good story - ignore some of seemingly middle class way of speaking this is a book of it's time written in 1944. It's a simple story of very young men who just got on with what the war threw at them.
Jeremy Trumble
This is a pretty cool love story written in 1944 about a British pilot and a W.A.A.F. It is a pretty simple story about love and war. I rather liked it and just like many other British novels this one goes rather nicely with a cup of good tea....
Alice
A touching novel of ordinary people doing ordinary things - fishing, going to the pub, falling in love - among the extraordinary circumstances that have dragged them from homes and jobs to a bomber station near Oxford.
Joelle Anthony
One of my all time favourite books. I've read it at least 4 times over the last 20 years and each time I love it more. This time, I was truly amazed at the intricacy of the writing. He was a master in subtlety.
Maura
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
Leslie
Absolutely loved it. It was an exciting, entertaining and romantic lead. It made me laugh out loud a bunch of times. Just charming.

My first intro to Nevil Shute, and I am hooked.
Alistair
Although I enjoyed the setting of a an RAF airbase in WW11 near to Oxford this is a rather sentimental love story which lacks bite and errs on the side of a rosy tinted tale about jolly good chaps and chappesses making sacrifices in a good cause . There are some good set pieces describing air raids over Germany but it is all a bit too good to be true .
Adam
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.
Morgan Stell
It's a cute love story. I liked it, but not near as much as A Town Like Alice and On the Beach.
Lisa
In 1985-86 I read my way through every Nevil Shute I could get my hands on!
Elinor
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
Jim Puskas
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.
Bookowl1000
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
Amy Heap
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.
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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.
More about Nevil Shute...
A Town Like Alice On the Beach Trustee from the Toolroom Pied Piper The Far Country

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