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Pied Piper [Paperback]

Nevil Shute
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)

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Book Description

July 2002
This title comes with an introduction by John Boyne. John 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.

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"Mr Shute not only writes vividly and excitingly of occupied France, but with a delightful understanding of children" Sunday Times "A small masterpiece...a book about frail but indomitable old age, simple kindness, childhood, and courage in dark confusing danger. It is not sentimental but prosaic and suspenseful on every page...it conjures up the country of the 1940's, and gently acclaims the value of ordinary decency in wicked times" -- Libby Purves "A brilliantly descriptive writer, a master of suspense" -- David Holloway "Exhibits his talents at their provocative best" New York Times "That shattering, unaffected, literary style of his is wholly deceptive...is, in fact, masterly" -- H.E. Bates

About the Author

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).

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Remarkable April 26 2003
In college I went to a used book store to buy Shute's "On the Beach". They didn't have it, so I bought "Pied Piper" as a consolation. I've read it three times since. Tremendous novel. An aeronautical engineer by training, Shute was a gifted storyteller and writer. Piper is well paced, has many stories within the story of bringing the children back to England - a man coping with old age, feelings of uselessness, the loss of a son; the formation of a deep friendship with the woman his son left behind, and so forth. Shute hits on the timeless themes of courage, fortitude, self-sacrifice, forgiveness etc. without ever coming close to being maudlin. There are no unnecessary speeches from men standing on a hilltop talking about "what it's all for". As John Howard says, while in custody, to the German officer who tells him he must be a very brave man, "No, not a brave man. Just a very old one."
For the record, I think it was made into a movie twice. Once with Monty Wooley playing Howard and then again for television - mid eighties, perhaps - with Peter O'Toole playing the role. Still, as the story is so marvelous, it should be done again for the big screen. Considering Anthony Hopkins's performance in "The Remains of the Day" (which was superior to the entertaining but far less nuanced Hannibal Lecter), I think he would be perfect to play Howard, putting the perfect cap on his career.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book May 17 2014
By Ruth
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I love Nevil Shute. This book was written at the time he depicts in the book. A great read, I was sorry when it ended.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Pied Piper March 8 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I read this book many years ago - I think it is one of his best and have chosen this as a birthday gift.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Respite from Sex and Gore May 12 2000
A somewhat earlier Shute novel that again reveals his positive orientation toward people and life. Shares with many other novels the preposterous notion that some Nazis were humane and thoughtful (I'm thinking of Steinbeck's "The Moon is Down" for one), but I don't hold that against the work. We would all do exactly the same things the old man did to save the children, so there develops a great sympathy for him during the course of the reading. And the book is squeaky clean, one that provides some welcome relief from the current onslaught of, say, two females having sex in the toilet stall in "Bright Lights, Big City." We're way far away from that here. And thank goodness.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unforgettable! Feb. 2 2004
Nevil Shute wrote stories about regular people thrown into extraordinary circumstances. He doesn't seem to attract much attention in college literature classes, perhaps because he writes about ordinary people. It's a shame because every book of Shute's is a great read. His characters will remain with you long after you've read the book. This tale of a grieving father who became a true hero is one of his best.
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By A Customer
G'day - Pied Piper, or any other book written by Neville Shue would make it into my top 10! Neville Shute would have to be one of the most influential Australian writers during the fourties and fifties. Works such as "On The Beach", a great story of the end of the world which was later made in a Hollywood film starring Ava Gardiner. Pied Piper, Trustee From The Tool Room, In The Wet, A Town Like Alice, Marazan, So Distained, Requiem For A WREN and Beyond The Black Stump are but some examples of Shute's superior and refreshingly simple story telling technique - Cheers, Dave Aikman
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