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Pied Piper

4.16  ·  Rating details ·  2,442 Ratings  ·  261 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
Paperback, 320 pages
Published August 24th 2010 by Vintage (first published 1942)
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Ahmad Sharabiani
Pied Piper, Nevil Shute
Pied Piper is a novel by Nevil Shute, first published in 1942. The title is a reference to the traditional German folk tale, "The Pied Piper of Hamelin". The story concerns an elderly Englishman, John Sidney Howard, who goes on a fishing holiday in France after the outbreak of the Second World War, but before the fall of France. Entrusted with the care of two English children, and overtaken by events, he attempts to return to England and safety. His journey is hampered by
Jul 09, 2007 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

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
Oct 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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
Jul 02, 2013 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
Jun 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Nevil Shute never disappoints me, not being a present day writer.....his novels have a timeless quality to them. A very heartfelt story of an old man mourning the loss of his son in World War II, tries to come to terms with his the process meets up with 6 children at various times in war-torn France & endeavors to bring them to safety in England, his home country. It's a wonderful read.....highly reccomend it!
Cindy Rollins
Aug 07, 2016 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 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ww2, elderly
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
Jan 12, 2012 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
Aug 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This beautiful story follows John Howard, a grieving 70 year old man, who escapes to a fishing vacation in France, after the death of his son in the RAF. It's summer 1940 and he craves quiet, avoiding all the talk of war and death in England. Little does he know what he is headed for! This was a BEAUTIFUL, heart-wrenching tale that blessed the socks off of me. It was written in a plain, straight-forward style, and yet I was right there with Mr.Howard through every step of this extraordinary jour ...more
Jun 27, 2014 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!
Feb 17, 2015 rated it really liked it
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
Feb 02, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The timeliness of this book is astonishing. The historical story of refugees fleeing from the Nazi invasion of France is so compelling that it is still the subject of current bestsellers (The Nightingale, All the Light We Cannot See). This is perhaps the first English language novel about the episode, so it's interesting from that standpoint, but also in the context of the refugee crisis in the news.

The plot is bizarre enough to be a page-turner, yet the initial premise is plausible, and the re
Sep 07, 2012 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 05, 2010 rated it liked it
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
Apr 05, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
enjoyed revisiting this author after so many years and still hasn't lost its charm of the storyline and emotions which come in this novel based around the time of the German invasion of France in 1940 and an old mans attempt to travel back to England with several children at the time of France imploding.
Sally Stanton
Mar 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the third book that I have read by Nevil Shute. I can see why he was such a popular, best selling author in his time. Every story is unique and the characters capture my interest right away. I've loved all three novels ("A Town Called Alice" and "Trustee from the Toolroom" are the other two)

This was a wonderful story that kept me involved til the end. I didn't read the summary of this novel beforehand which is rare and I'm so glad I didn't. It was great to have the story unfold with no a
Feb 25, 2010 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
Sep 05, 2012 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 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
Jan 24, 2009 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 rated it really liked it
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
Jul 12, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've always had a soft spot for Nevile Shute, as an author who can tell a good story. This was always one of my favorites of his, more than the better-known "On the Beach" or "A Town like Alice". A very charming, very human story of heroism in the face of adversity. Possibly a little sentimental, but there you go.
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.
May 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is my second Nevil Shute book, and I absolutely loved this one, too. This is about an older English man who is vacationing in France when the Germans come during WWII. As he prepares to depart, a couple with whom he has recently become acquainted asks him to take their children to England with him to live in the safety of a family member. The older man is unsure, but has been wanting to be helpful during the war and has felt underutilized due to his age. Things evolve from there. The kindhe ...more
Jul 19, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Seventy-year-old John Howard's life has lost its purpose. A retired solicitor he finds it hard to fill his days, and he is also suffering a close personal loss. He finds himself in Eastern France as war breaks out, and he is asked to escort two young English children home, a task that gives him a much-needed responsibility.

I thought this tale of young and old was going to be too sweet for me for a while, but as the events in the war overtake them the challenges grow harder and Shute draws you in
Jan 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shute is truly a masterful story teller with a smooth, easy writing style. Captivating book that crescendos into a real slam-bang finish.
Aug 08, 2011 rated it really liked it
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 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
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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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“He was just entering the club ahead of me, a tall and rather emaciated man of about seventy, a little unsteady on his feet. He tripped over the doormat as he went in and stumbled forward; the hall porter jumped out and caught him by the elbow.” 0 likes
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