Pied Piper, Paperback Book
4.5 out of 5 (1 rating)


As recommended on BBC4's A Good Read - 'A very good writer...simple, elegant and readable...a fantastic story' Jonathan CoeWITH AN INTRODUCTION BY JOHN BOYNEJohn Howard is determined to brighten up his old age by taking a fishing trip to France.

However, during his stay the Nazis invade and he is forced to try to escape back to England with the two small children of some friends who are forced to stay behind in order to help the Allied war effort.

As the conflict grows closer the roads become impassable and Howard also comes across five more children who need his help.

He ends up leading this motley group of youngsters through the French countryside, constantly beset by danger yet heroically protecting his charges. Nevil Shute Norway was born on 17 January 1899 in Ealing, London.

After attending the Dragon School and Shrewsbury School, he studied Engineering Science at Balliol College, Oxford.

He worked as an aeronautical engineer and published his first novel, Marazan, in 1926.

In 1931 he married Frances Mary Heaton and they went on to have two daughters.

During the Second World War he joined the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve where he worked on developing secret weapons.

After the war he continued to write and settled in Australia where he lived until his death on 12 January 1960.

His most celebrated novels include Pied Piper (1942), No Highway (1948), A Town Like Alice (1950) and On the Beach (1957).


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Publishing
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Classic fiction (pre c 1945)
  • ISBN: 9780099530220



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My admiration for Nevil Shute rises after each of his books that I read. I thought Pied Piper was a wonderful story that captured not only the fear and confusion of finding oneself trapped behind enemy lines with no certainty of reaching home but also the frustrations and joys of travelling with children. John Howard needed to get away and chooses the wrong time to go on a fishing vacation in France. When the war news turns bleaker and he is preparing to return to England, he is approached by an English woman whose husband is working for the League of Nations in Switzerland. They have decided to remain in Switzerland but as many feel the Germans will invade, she asks Mr. Howard if her two children could accompany him back to England. Thinking he will only be taking a straight forward train and boat journey he agrees to escort the children.Circumstances turn grim for this little group as the Germans overrun France much quicker than anyone expected and Howard finds himself and the children cut off from escape. Also they appear to be picking up more children as they travel. Eventually he goes to the home of people that he met on a previous trip to France and the daughter of this family, Nichole, agrees to accompany him to the coast and help him and the children find a fisherman with a boat to get them over the English Channel.This is a story to give one faith in the goodness of humanity. The characters are ordinary people that are willing to go to extraordinary lengths to save these children. Howard himself is a seventy year old man with a gentleness and decency that shines through every situation, his handing of the children is truly heart-warming. The children come across very real, caring more about play and food and not really understanding about the war. There is an uplifting moment when Howard discovers that there is a connection with Nichole that he didn’t know about, yet even with these sentimental events the book never feels contrived.Pied Piper is both an exciting and believable story of courage and compassion in the face of danger and uncertainty and I loved it.

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