1st Wednesday Book Group – Pied Piper


2nd October 2013

piedTitle: The Pied Piper

Author: Nevil Shute

Book Summary

During John Howard’s holiday in France, the Nazis invade and he is forced to try to escape back to England with the two small children of some friends. 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.

Group Comments


  • I was initially not keen to read the book, but I really enjoyed it. Very interesting to read about the War from the perspective of someone who was around at the time?
  • I was surprised to realise that in parts of the French countryside life didn’t change dramatically.
  • The book was plausible until the last two children were picked up.
  • Many of the French peasants needed to be so focused on the struggle to service that they probably weren’t really aware of what was happening in the war.
  • Not a great literary work but a good read.
  • Totally implausible to think a 70 year old man would track to France to fish at the time of the war. Not always historically correct; a bit like a ‘boys own’ tale.
  • I needed to skip quite a lot of sections – a bit too cute in parts. Became bored with it, did not engage. Found it rambling and implausible. Different to anything else I have read, in that those escaping from the Germans were not Jewish, except one child.
  • I only skimmed the book. Most of Shute’s books are character driven not plot driven.
  • I first read it at school and wanted to re-read it as an adult. I found it a plausible story but dated; unrealistic in parts.
  • Found the historical accounts of the War interesting.
  • Found it simplistic but read a review which described it as a story of love, loss and loneliness and I wouldn’t agree with that.
  • Found the language dated, but quite an interesting read.