John Howard is determined to brighten up his old age by taking a fishing trip to France, but during his stay the Nazis invade. Howard must 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.
Pied Piper has twice been adapted for feature film, with Peter O’Toole playing Howard in the 1990 version and Monty Woolley in the 1942 version.
Public Domain (P)2012 Audible Ltd
"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." (Libby Purves)
"A brilliantly descriptive writer, a master of suspense." (David Holloway)
I'm going from chapter to chapter in life. Some are definitely better than others!
I have long been a fan of Nevil Shute's books. I had read Pied Piper over 40 years ago, and though I enjoyed it then, I wouldn't have listed Pied Piper in my all-time top 10 favorite books. Oh what a difference a few decades can make!
The main character, John Howard, is an elderly Englishman on a fishing holiday in France. The story takes place at the beginning of WWII, before Germany invades France. Though he is not totally thrilled to do so, John Howard agrees to take two young English children back to England when he returns. Thus the story begins.
The author weaves together smaller story lines throughout the book. I particularly enjoyed how Nevil Shute developed John Howard into a selfless man, a true hero. I could almost see Mr. Howard's heart grow as the story was told.
The narrator, David Rintoul, did a fine job. The author begins the Pied Piper as if a man in a pub was telling others what John Howard had done. The narrator captures that feeling and makes you want to pull your bar stool closer to hear this amazing tale.
The Pied Piper is one of my favorite audiobooks. I'm glad I rediscovered this great story.
I read the book many years ago and as soon as Audible provided it, I bought it. It is an amazing story and I would highly recommend it to listeners. It is well read. I also recommend all the other books by Nevil Shute.
love to read and love audio books!Favorite authors: Marcia Willett,Nevil Shute,Mary Stewart,and Jacqueline Winspear. I could go on and on but wont bore you! I belong to a book group and we often" Listen" to the books we have selected for the month while using a paper copy for the discussion notes. It really enhances the quality of the story.
I have loved Nevil Shutes books for years.His books are the real old fashioned QUALITY writing you dont see much any more. Listening to them adds another layer of enjoyment to an already familiar story. The Pied Piper is a classic story with wonderful character development that draws you right into the perils of WW2 in France.. Any one that loves a good WW2 story will really like this one! Thanks audible for getting so many of Shutes books on audible.
I enjoyed this book very much, though I didn't find it quite as emotionally compelling as "A Town Like Alice".
This was a very good story, and the thing I like about Shute is his ability to handle very difficult issues and topics with grace and emotion without sinking into darkness.
I came to really care about the main character as well as the other characters he is trying to help.
I enjoy Shute's books very much and so far, have felt very safe reading them and recommending them to others. He writes like the gentleman he seems to be.
Tangential, eclectic, avid listener... favorite book is the one currently in ear.
I love Nevil Shute! I so enjoyed "A Town Like Alice" and "Trustee from the Toolroom," but I think in its own understated way I like this little gem even better. Like "Trustee.." the hero is a gentle, older man who steps up to do what needs done. Set in the early stages of the French occupation during WWII, it opened that history to me in a way I had never understood. It is not woven or thrilling like "Code Name Verity," more along the lines of "Major Pettigrews Last Stand" if set during the war with a goal of great importance. I have already recommended to several friends and will read again.
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 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.
Pied Piper began slowly and built gradually which typical is Shute's style. I definitely plan to find more books by this author. They cause me to feel less jaded when I finish them. Quite the opposite of novels like Gone Girl where I felt I needed a shower from contact with those characters. The plot of this book is certainly as plausible as that one and far more encouraging to read.
I have discovered (or rediscovered perhaps) Nevil Shute, and I am enthralled. First was A Town Like Alice and now Pied Piper. It is hard to express the mix of emotions, pleasure, laughter, exquisite heartache and tears that you will experience while listening to this truly wonderful story. (Note: It does help to know French for this book.) Shute was an engineer and an amazing, creative, and masterful story teller. David Rintoul's narration is perfect. The characters are ordinary people caught up in extraordinary circumstances, and at the heart of it all is the beauty and strength and the very best of human nature. What an uplifting message these days! Thank you Audible for making these wonderful stories available. And now on to Trustee From The Toolroom. Can't wait!
I don't think I've read a Nevil Shute book I didn't love but this one simply transported me to a time and place where I could just about forget my real world. The central character is so understated yet strong. gorgeous delivery of the story too. Aces.
I was looking forward to this book as I have loved other books by him, but the narration was terrible. He is one of those narrators who varies his speech from 2 decibels to 90 decibels in the same sentence. So if you want to hear everything, you have to have the volume cranked way up. Then you get blasted out by the loud volume seconds later. I gave up after 10 minutes.
This is great story - well read by David Rintoul. It keeps your attention and is moving
Thanks for making a new audiobook out of this beautiful old book. David Rintoul did a good job narrating it, it came alive. It's a long time since I read the book for the first time. With pleasure I listened and enjoyed the travelling together with John Howard trough occupied France with all the children in tow.
"The Reliable, enjoyable Mr Shute"
My expectations were for a great story and were completely fulfilled, i have enjoyed his stories for 50 years. Wonderful.
"Heartwarming WW2 story"
Gripping, human, atmospheric
It was just a great story, one of Shute's classics.
Not before but I would definitely look for more
Not a particular moment but Howard's unfailing patience and kindness to the children
I would highly recommend this book to anyone who hasn't read Nevil Shute. And it gives such a detailed picture of life in occupied France at the beginning of the war.
"A new favourite"
It's not often a book makes its way into my list of favourites, but this one has done so and I think it is in large part due to the perfect narration. In trying to decide whether I wanted to read or listen to this book, I sampled the first few pages on Amazon and found the style of dialogue a bit awkward in my head, probably due to 1940's conversational style not coming naturally to me (even though I am a huge fan of films from that era). So, after listening to the Audible sample, I decided on the audiobook and am so very glad I did - the sample didn't do David Rintoul justice, it made me think he would be good, but his performance was far beyond that, brilliant, really. It's a little clichéd to say, but he brought the story, which is brilliant in its own right, to life.
This is the second Nevile Shute book I've listened to and it won't be my last. Although this and the first one, On The Beach, we're entirely different, both were written with such a vividness - I am very impressed.
"One of the best from Nevil Shute"
As in all of Nevil Shute's books, the main characters are morally strong and unshakeable in trying to do the right thing in the most challenging and chaotic of circumstances. The story unfolds in a plausible way, and you are drawn along with Mr Howard's dogged determination to do his best to take the little band of assorted children to England where they have some hope of a future. His quiet exhaustion and grief meets surprise and solace in the attempt.
"A story of an ordinary man's courage."
I read this when I was 12, as a recommended text at school, and couldn't really remember much about it. I loved this reading, which was tense and dramatic.
It certainly made me cry.
"Paints a vivid picture of war and ordinary people"
Moving, engaging, heart-warming
This book was published in 1941 about the German invasion of France the earlier year - this gives it's writing about war an immediacy and a truth that is striking to the modern reader. In this it is like many of Nevil Shute's novels, and his fans will not be disappointed by this wonderful reading of what is in essence a simple story but with an engaging and interesting plot. Mr John Howard is a 70 yr old man whose son has recently died in the war, and he decides (unwisely) to go on a fishing trip to France just as war is spreading in that direction. The book follows his ordeals in travelling back to England, made increasingly complex by the children who accompany him. These include English and French children, a Dutch refugee who appears very traumatised and does not speak, and finally the niece of a German officer who apprehends the group as they attempt to leave France. Of course, he never intended to travel with any of them - but his innate British courtesy and sense of fair-play leads him to accept the charge of each one of these children, however unwillingly. He is assisted in his endeavours by the daughter of an old colleague - not realising for some time that she was in fact the fiancee' of his son, and is grieving for the lost young man just as much as he is.
John Howard is the epitome of a gentleman, the type of man who might have been one's grandfather (or perhaps great grandfather) but who perhaps no longer exists in our modern world. A wonderful person of great heroism but great modesty.
I was particularly moved when Mr Howard explains briefly to the girl that his son was killed in the war, and she replies "I know", and he is a little puzzled by her response, not realising what terrible pain she too has had to bear (for of course as the young man's fiancee' she had been notified of his death by his squadron).
I would highly recommend this book to anyone looking for a really good read, a great story in the traditional sense, albeit a story told simply. It is not what one would class as literary fiction, but is none the less a truly wonderful book in my opinion.
"Best for existing fans of Shute?"
I am a great fan of Nevil Shute's books and this one is well read. However, it is very much of its time. It has a strong story, as always, but may sound just a little dated to modern tastes. Although not that different from the first half of A Town Like Alice, in being the story of a desperate journey thrust upon ordinary people in wartime, I didn't find this one as compelling. However, if you are an existing fan, go for it.
I am very pleased however that someone has decided to put all Shute's books on Kindle and audiobook.
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