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Pied Piper
Nevil Shute
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Pied Piper

4.15  ·  Rating Details ·  2,113 Ratings  ·  219 Reviews
It is the summer of 1940 and in Europe the time of Blitzkreig. John Howard, a 70-year-old Englishman vacationing in France, cuts shorts his tour and heads for home. He agrees to take two children with him.

But war closes in. Trains fail, roads clog with refugees. And if things were not difficult enough, other children join in Howard's little band. At last they reach the coa

Hardcover, 303 pages
Published 1976 by Heinemann (first published 1942)
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Each author has their own special style. How would I describe Nevil Shute's? His books have a “feel good” tone, and yet at the same time they don't shy away from difficult themes. As with fairy tales, you get scary and suspenseful tidbits, but at the conclusion you feel satisfied. Content.

This novel is said to be based on a true life story. Yet nobody calls it non-fiction. There are just too many coincidences for me to accept this as being totally true to life. The story is about a seventy year
Jan 22, 2011 Tatiana rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ah, this is one of my favorite books of all! Shute is a wonderful writer. His characters are quite ordinary and believable yet they are also extraordinary and wonderfully good. He gives me faith in humanity, in the world, and in the power of just calmly going about doing what needs to be done. Most people really are like this!

The narrative builds from a calm center and grows more and more compelling and urgent. His protagonist, a 70 year old British gentleman, goes fishing in the Jura in France
Jan 08, 2016 Jaksen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
A wonderful book! Absolutely outstanding!

My copy came from the library at the Mass Maritime Academy in Bourne, MA (where I also have a summer home.) I tried to get it via my home library, this was the closest copy they could find. It is part of the Complete Works of Nevil Shute, which I had no idea existed. Anyhow, I am a huge fan of Shute's novel, 'On the Beach,' and that prompted me to look for some of his other novels.

To the book. What a story. Supposedly based on a true story, it was told t
Ahmad Sharabiani
Pied Piper, Nevil Shute
Jun 28, 2016 Gary rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A beautiful, heartwarming and encapsulating story about an elderly English man holidaying in France during World War II and coping with feelings of uselessness' and getting over the death in combat of his son,
While he is in France, that country is invaded by the Germans and two small English children come into his custody and he takes them under his wing with the aim of getting them to Britain.
He takes on the role of nurturer and protector and we get a window into France during the war and the G
Cindy Rollins
Aug 07, 2016 Cindy Rollins rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
Thoroughly British, thoroughly enjoyable!

Nevil Shute is the author of one of my favorite novels A Town Like Alice. I had not realized he had written quite a few more novels. This one, Pied Piper came highly recommended and rightfully so. It is a wonderful story, simple and deep. Thoroughly British
Jan 10, 2015 Carol rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
John Howard's world has collapsed; the seventy-ish English man responds by going fishing in the Jura mountains in France. [friends of ours named their dog "Jura" after these mountains] When the Nazi army is poised to invade France, Howard betakes himself back to England. His trip back is complicated by two English children with whom he agreed to travel. They are hoping to get to St. Malo [a city I never heard of until two weeks ago when I read All the Light We Cannot See...and voila! it reappear ...more
Jun 10, 2015 Hanna-col rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I stumbled upon Pied Piper while going through a list of Nevil Shute’s works. The synopsis of the book piqued my interest and I almost bought it soon after while making an Amazon purchase (I opted out to buy Steal Like An Artist instead). Several weeks back, I received Pied Piper as a birthday gift from my parents and started reading it a few days later.

In the most simple of terms, I loved it. The idea of an old man trying to return to England as the Nazis invade France and taking refugee chil
Sep 12, 2012 Sally906 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The original Pied Piper of Hamelin story is a German Folk tale where a man offers to rid Hamelin of its rat problem for a fee – accepted he plays his pipes and the mice all follow him to be drowned in a river. However when the city leaders renege on the payment the piper plays another tune and the children all follow him into a gap in the mountain where it closes behind them and they are never seen again. I am not sure of the connection as Mr Howard is rescuing the children in this story rather ...more
Aug 07, 2010 Phair rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
While this was published in 1941 and was about events of the 1940 German invasion of France, to me it was historical fiction made more interesting and real because of the immediacy. A very leisurely book about frantic events- the pace fit a story of a 70 year old man traveling, largely on foot, with a group of very young children. Seeing events through the eyes of the children who did not see the Germans as enemies but treated all people they met as befitted their actions- kind or friendly peop ...more
Mar 06, 2015 Judy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Nevil Shute is such a wonderful storyteller. I wish we had more books by him. My library doesn't have many ; so I've been buying used copies of several of his books. It's my one concession to adding to my own library. I wonder if many younger readers even know of Shute. Even the several of his books that have been made into movies are quite old. This book is another of his WWII stories--an interesting tale of how an "old" man tried to help several children out of France as the Germans were invad ...more
Jan 17, 2016 Cathleen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really loved this story and the character of Mr. Howard, as the children called him. I loved his relationship he had with the children. As with most war stories, you see the bad, evil and ugly things that happen during this time. But in this story, you see something evolving that makes you feel good. I'm not sure if this was based on a true story or not but I wish it was. Mr. Howard you are a war Hero of a different kind!
Mar 26, 2010 Tim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2010
Recovering from the death of his Son, an RAF pilot during the early days of the War, elderly John Howard takes a Holiday in France close to the Swiss Border. The news of the War is sombre, the French Invasion by Germany is gathering pace, and is swooping southwards beyond Paris.

He is asked by friends to escort their two young children, back to England and embarks on a race against time to reach the atlantic coast and a passage to safety, before the advanzing Nazi forces consume France. Along the
Oct 17, 2016 Chrisl rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Pied Piper. He's among my Shute five favorites. One of those old quiet stories that stays with me.

Here's a professional review from KIRKUS REVIEW

" ... Shute has the faculty for seizing upon contemporary drama and weaving it into a story with very human elements. This is the story of a conservative, tradition-bound old Englishman, faced with the need to be needed, meeting it with quiet courage and no bombast. He is caught by rumors of German invasion, while on holiday in the Jura mountains, and i
Jul 27, 2010 Shauna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a very sweet story. Definitely sentimental, even predictable (at least the larger overall story), but in a good way, making this book charming and engaging because of these things. A 70 year old British widower, at the beginning of WW2, has recently lost his son to the battle, and is finding himself at loose ends. He decides to take a fishing trip in France (near Switzerland), but finds Hitler's armies advancing across Europe much more rapidly than anyone could have foreseen. What happe ...more
Jun 18, 2015 Penny rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: shute-nevil
Englishman Mr. Howard who is 70 is on a fishing holiday in eastern France when the Germans invade in 1940. He shortens his vacation to return home and is persuaded to take the two Cavanaugh children with him. As he travels through Europe his family grows as other displaced children join him. The journey is long, arduous and fraught with danger (possibly being overheard speaking English is only one of the dangers).
In 1942 this novel was made into a movie with the tagline: He Raced Hitler's Panzer
Sep 28, 2011 Susann rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of A Town Like Alice
Page-turner of a WWII story about an older Englishman trying to navigate an assortment of children through German-occupied France. The book reminded me of the first half of A Town Like Alice and, despite its unruffled tone, I couldn't put it down and came within seconds of missing my subway stop while reading it Monday night.

The ending is pure old-fashioned melodrama and there is one ridiculously stereotypical comment about Jewish people. But, as the book blurb says, Shute was a master storytel
Loved this story of an elderly English gentleman attempting to rescue some children during WW2. Shute has a writing style that is comfortable to read, but no less fascinating to read. This is a charming, yet occasionally suspenseful, story.
Jan 25, 2012 Terri rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Lovers of historical fiction
This was a 4.5 stars for me, for sure. If I hadn't already read A Town Like Alice, I think I would have rated this at 5. I really enjoyed Pied Piper, but I loved Alice. At any rate, this is an excellent, gentle read.

Set in the early 1940's, as Germany invaded France during WWII, Pied Piper is a story of an old gentleman, John Howard, who patiently and carefully escorts a group of children to safety across France, off to England, and ultimately to America. He starts with two children and picks up
Mar 23, 2012 Tish rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a wonderful book! Though not strictly HF, because it was written about a time in which Shute lived, this story takes place in France during the early part of WWII. As in others of Shute's books, the main story is told as a recollection by characters in the "present day"--in this case, a month or two after the events in the story. An elderly English gentleman [nb, at my own stage in life, I take umbrage at calling someone not yet 70 "elderly!"] on a fishing holiday in eastern France is calle ...more
May 04, 2012 Divya rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
John Howard, an elderly Englishman is on a quiet fishing holiday, in France, while the Second World War, unfolds around him. He attempts to get back to England, and along the way is entrusted with care of various children, in the hope that he can get them to safety. Children of various nationalities, languages, and pasts, all follow this gentle man, as he does all he can to fulfill his responsibilities.

I picked up this book, as part of a reading circle read. It is a gently-pace
Jan 22, 2015 Michael rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This story reminded me of Somerset Maugham's writing style, and as I enjoy Somerset Maugham I also enjoyed this story.
Set in a Gentleman's Club in London in the early years of World War 2, two club members begin a conversation and the older one begins his tale of how he went to France to follow his passion of trout fishing. His timing was not perfect as France was being threatened with invasion by the Germans, and his story unfolds about his attempts to stay ahead of the invaders and try and fin
Nov 13, 2008 Beverly rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I absolutely loved this book! I just discovered it at a used book store.

Besides enjoying the story, I was taken up with the pleasure of reading a WWII story which was written during WWII.

As twenty-first century reader, and one with an interest in history, I found the author's view to be fascinating. For Shute this was a contemporary novel.... for us, today, it is a glimpse into how one writer was experiencing a world crisis which was unfolding before him.

If you are new to Shute, read a bit of
Jul 05, 2008 Richard rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A novel published in 1942. An older English man, in his 70s, travels to Southern France just before Germany invades and over runs France. He decides to travel back to England just a few days before to be safe. As he is ready to leave an English couple asks them to take their two children back to England with him; he is reluctant but decides to do so. What normally would take a full day of train and boat turns into a much longer journey because Germany does invade. Along the way the old man ends ...more
Sep 01, 2016 Hilary rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: war
The story of an unlikely guardian, John Howard is an elderly gentleman vacationing in Switzerland when the threat of German invasion means he's asked to take two young children back to England with him. At first it seems a straightforward request, but as the German army penetrates deeper into Europe they are forced to continually change their route as transportation and accommodation become harder to arrange and the inevitable problems of travelling with children under 12 emerge. And other child ...more
Susan Kornfeld
Oct 27, 2015 Susan Kornfeld rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lovely tale of an elderly Englishman caught in France at the beginning of German occupation. He begins his return to England, cutting his fishing trip short, by taking two young children with him to safety. Ah, but events happen and the journey is not so easy. He ends up with six (and finally seven) children. His patience, their adventures, and ultimately the humanity that shines through the book made this a very enjoyable read. Shute's storytelling begins quietly, very in keeping with the Engli ...more
Jul 18, 2015 Zora rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Zora by: showed up on library Overdrive
Page turner of an adventure in which an elderly English fisherman is caught on holiday in France when the Nazis arrive. Agreeing to take two English children home, he cannot manage to outpace the Germans. And, he keeps collecting orphaned children along the way, making everything more complicated. The details of his finding food and a place to sleep kept me riveted. The children are realistically irritating much of the time, but he keeps on herding them along toward the coast and, he hopes, safe ...more
Feb 12, 2015 Elizabeth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: wwii, fiction
Set in the Spring of 1940, this is, to my mind, Nevil Shute’s most endearing WW II novels. It's the story of one elderly man's daring attempt to rescue a group of children during the Nazi invasion of France. Although the writing is more pedestrian, it reminded me of ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE by Anthony Doerr and SUITE FRANCAISE by Irene Nemirovsky. A fascinating look at an unlikely hero thrown into the spotlight by the upheavals of war. I write about my father's time with the Maquis in occupie ...more
Sep 29, 2015 Lori rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved this story, which felt somewhat like a fairy tale. We know from the very first pages that our hero, elderly John Howard, has made it back to England from his journey through France during WWII, but the tale was compelling anyway. I wanted to know how many children he picked up along the way to take to safety. I wanted to learn their stories and nationalities, how they came to be in his keeping. I loved Mr. Howard's gentleness, his willingness to walk at the children's pace, to meet their ...more
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Goodreads Librari...: Missing cover & publishing info 6 16 Feb 21, 2015 11:50PM  
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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...

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