pied piper
Nevil Shute
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pied piper

4.08 of 5 stars 4.08  ·  rating details  ·  1,276 ratings  ·  114 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, 283 pages
Published November 2nd 1997 by Random House UK (first published 1942)
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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...more
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
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...more
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
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...more
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.
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
Jan 25, 2012 Terri rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  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...more
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...more
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
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
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...more
Sep 28, 2011 Susann rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  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...more
What a great read! Very exciting, sweet and would make such a good movie. The movie was actually made in 1942--the same year it was published, and basically a year after the story is meant to take place! I can totally see this made into a movie again (evidentially it was a tv movie in 1990 or something) starring Audrey Tatou as Nicole and John Hurt as Howard.

I gave it 4 stars because it is so vivid and the character of Howard is so lovely. Maybe a bit old-fashioned plot structure, but I really e...more
At least four stars. Another of Mr. Shute's marvelous WW II novels, this one set in France in the spring of 1940. Despite ominous news of German activity in Europe, John Howard, an elderly English gentleman, decides to undertake a fishing trip to the mountains of France near Switzerland. His vacation is interrupted when the Germans overrun the low countries and invade France. The story follows Howard's attempts to return to England, accompanied (to his dismay) by an ever-increasing group of you...more
Oct 14, 2010 Bill rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: adults (male or female)
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Seventy-year-old John Howard finds himself deep in France as the Germans advance from the Ardennes in WW2. He must make his way back to the coast if he hopes to return to Britain before all escape is cut off. Along the way, through various adventures, he acquires a chain of young children that he commits himself to lead to safety. Howard is burdened by age and a sense of loneliness from recent losses. In the journey, he finds a purpose for his life and recovers a small piece of what prompted his...more
What a great story, beautifully written. What more can you ask from a book? Starts out just a bit slow but by page 50 things really begin to happen.

An old man from England goes on vacation at the wrong time to France. He agrees to take 2 children back with him to England. Then he inadvertently ends up with more children--but the Germans are invading France.

I love Nevil Shute books and will read more soon!
Jayne Charles
Nevil Shute is excellent at depicting the effects of war on individuals. This book - telling the story of an elderly Englishman trying to leave France at the start of WWII, accompanied by two children, and as the book's title suggests ending up with several more - would be great to read alongside historical studies. I enjoyed it and am keeping it on the shelf for my kids.
First book by the Shute, but really dug it. Great drama, pathos, and pacing, but also an intriguing depiction what it was like to be in France while it was being overrun by the Germans in WWII. Especially interesting because this book was published in 1942, so the descriptions couldn't have been colored by knowledge of the forthcoming German atrocities or eventual defeat.
I always love Nevil Shute's understated style, but this particular setting and story were not my favorite. It still gets four stars because, with his style alone, Shute sets my soul to, "ahhhh," just like music. Every word is just right.
Nevil Shute was a master story teller. I found this book, like A Town Like Alice, a very gratifying and satisfying read and remember it often, as one does with some books, as I go through my daily life
Another great book from Nevil Shute. Clever story where the wit of an 80 year with a parcel of childrens is his only defense as he must pass through the German army the week after blizkrieg.
Carey Combe
Beautifully written, heartwarming but managing to avoid being overly sentimental.
Frank Snell
Pied Piper is set very early in WWII (almost two years before the U.S. entered the war). It is about an older Englishman who is trapped in France by the German occupation, and ends up shepherding a half dozen young children out of France. His adult companion is a young French woman who becomes a very dear friend. It is a tale of heartwarming humanity, and very interesting from a historic point of view as well. Nevil Shute is an excellent writer, so it is an easy and enjoyable read. Other books...more
This is one of my very favorite novels of all time. I highly recommend it.
Mark Speed
At the time of writing, we're commemorating the 70th anniversary of D-Day. This novel is about that other D-word: Dunkirk, which happened almost exactly four years earlier.

In 1940 the French were routed by the Germans and the British Expeditionary Force desperately made its escape through Dunkirk. This is the story of an elderly man who was on holiday, gets overtaken by the German invasion, and rescues several children as he tries to make his way back to England. Amazingly, this was published in...more
Astrid Johanne
Manden med pilefløjterne er fantastisk skrevet, i et letlæseligt sprog.
Blev så opslugt af historien at jeg glemte tid og sted. Det er umuligt at forudsige hvad der sker på den næste side. Blev helt trist, da historien var slut.

In English:
Pied Piper is amazing written, in a language, that is easy to read and understand.
Got so carried away by the story, that I forgot time and place. It is impossible to predict what happens next. Got sad when I finnished reading the book, because I wanted the story...more
The story is a recounting of events over the course of one evening while two Englishman are in their club waiting out a blitz during the war. One man is never named. The other is identified as John Sidney Howard. The one who is never named tells of the evening and the story that Howard recounts of his experiences the previous April while in France for a fishing holiday. A family that he becomes friendly with has two small children. Because of the war, they feel the children would be safer in En...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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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 The Far Country Requiem for a Wren

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