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Pied Piper

4.11 of 5 stars 4.11  ·  rating details  ·  1,504 ratings  ·  139 reviews
One of Nevil Shute’s most exciting novels, Pied Piper is the gripping story of one elderly man's daring attempt to rescue a group of children during the Nazi invasion of France.

It is the spring of 1940 and John Sidney Howard wants nothing more than to enjoy his fishing holiday in southern France in peace and quiet. However, the Nazi conquest of the Low Countries puts an en
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Paperback, 320 pages
Published August 24th 2010 by Vintage (first published 1942)
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Protagonists Over 60
26th out of 110 books — 26 voters
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Best Books of the Decade: 1940's
266th out of 400 books — 512 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,414)
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Tatiana
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
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Carol
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
Sally906
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
Judy
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
Phair
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
Tim
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
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Shauna
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
Penny
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
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Martha
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.
Elizabeth
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
Terri
Jan 25, 2012 Terri rated it 4 of 5 stars
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
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Divya
Synopsis:
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.

Thoughts:
I picked up this book, as part of a reading circle read. It is a gently-pace
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Tish
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
John
70 year old Englishman on vacation in France and mourning the loss of his son is caught in France during it's invasion by Germany in WWII. He sets out on a low-key, heroic journey to get two children of an acquaintance to relatives in England before the hard times of the war hit full force. The third of Mr. Shute's books I've read; all winners. Paperback version.
Richard
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
Michael
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
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Beverly
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
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Susann
Sep 28, 2011 Susann rated it 4 of 5 stars
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
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Jennifer
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
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Alistair
If you like good old fashioned story telling about ordinary but heroic decent people set in the good old days then Neville Shute is your man .Of course Shute was writing about a period he lived through so he was not writing nostalgic novels but for a modern reader I think this is his appeal . Those were the days when it was all so simple and right was right and wrong was wrong and men were men and women were women .

This story set at the beginning of WW11 tells of the Pied Piper of the title John
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Al
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
Bill
Oct 14, 2010 Bill rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: adults (male or female)
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Stuart
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
Andrew McClarnon
Any story that starts with a conversation over a glass of brandy is going to be a good read, it may be a cliche to frame a story in that way, but only in the way that swapping your shoes for your slippers is when you come in side. NS is definitely a 'slippers' sort of writer, there is such a simplicity to his prose that he could make a shopping list read as poetry. Here we accompany poor Howard, numbed by the loss of his son, as his French holiday unravels as the country is invaded, and in tryin ...more
Kathy
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.
Brendan Babish
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.
Nancy
I really love all of the books I've read by this author. He captures times that are gone forever. His style is understated and his novels, this one included, are peopled with decent, ordinary characters who are simply leading their lives according to a set of values. Even the invading, occupying Germans in Pied Piper are portrayed as human beings with families and loved ones they want to protect from the horrors of war; they are NOT sympathetic characters, merely complex as we all are.

This novel
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Amy
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.
Sandy
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
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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...
A Town Like Alice On the Beach Trustee from the Toolroom The Far Country Requiem for a Wren

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