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)
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"One of My All Time Favorires"
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.
"An All Time Favorite."
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.
"A little gentle gem..."
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.
"A Good Man in France"
Another wonderful adventure by Nevil Shute. His stories feature decent people behaving in quiet, heroic ways. It's a pleasure to read / listen to a book with such worthy characters. The narrator here was excellent.
"My favourite Nevil Shute book"
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.
"Great story, gently told"
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.
"A moving novel, wonderfully narrated"
Nevil Shute's "Pied Piper" is a touching, very moving story, expertly written and wonderfully narrated. If you have not sampled this writer's novels, you are in for a glorious treat.
First, the characters, especially the hero, are vividly presented in a naturalistic, unfolding way. Second, the era covered by the novel -- the collapse of France in spring 1940 and the London Blitz of 1940-41 -- are well enough known so that we are well aware of the great events that will shape the story. Of course, the characters are completely innocent of the calamities they face. In fact, because the novel was written while Britain was still losing the war with Germany, even the author did not know the ultimate outcome of the terrible struggle he describes. Third, the particular story that we hear is only a tiny sliver of a gigantic tapestry that will ultimately affect the lives of all but a handful of Europeans and Americans. Still, that tiny sliver carries an enormous emotional wallop.
An aging English gentleman recklessly takes a fishing holiday in eastern France, after the fall of Poland and the Baltic states but before the Spring 1940 invasion of France and the Low Countries. His holiday is interrupted by the great invasion, and he wishes to return to Britain before it is too late. A couple begs him to take their two young children with him back to England. At that point, his sometimes comic but usually terrible adventures begin. Shute is a humane and honest observer. Not all of the English and French people whom our hero meets are noble, and not all of the Germans are awful. The hero, however, is a hero in every sense of that word, though in a most understated and quiet way. The individual incidents seem plausible, and they are certainly artfully described. The narration by David Rintoul is outstanding.
Other Nevil Shute novels are well worth seeking out. I have especially admired "A Town Like Alice" (narrated by Neil Hunt) and "Trustee from the Toolroom" (narrated by the incomparable Frank Muller). I look forward to reading others. Fortunately, Audible has a lengthy list of them.
"Loved this book!"
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.
"Typical, Wonderful Novel by Nevile Shute"
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.
"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.
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.
"What is it all about?"
I normally like Neville Shute books and didn't understand why I had never heard of this one. Perhaps I know now! If it really is just about a man getting two children back to the UK at the outbreak of the Second World War, that seems like a pretty poor plotline to hang a novel on. I don't know. I can't be bothered to finish it.
"The Pied Piper"
This book was well written and beautifully read. I love Nevil Shute's works. Looking forward to my next one.
"A neglected Shute classic"
Occasionally the plot is a bit stretched, but this is a much neglected classic from Nevil Shute.
I loved this story. Excellent for all ages. Highly recommend. What a jolly good author:)
"Just like I remembered."
I read this book years ago and so was please to see it on Audible, but worried if it would be as I remembered. It is a lovely gently story about an old man, who finds himself shepherding a group of children through war torn France. It is honest and shows people at their best and worst, but still a lovely story.
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