Nevil Shute Norway Foundation

Book Review

Pied Piper

By Sandy Weiss

The Pied Piper, in Nevil Shute's book of the same name, is a rather quiet septuagenarian by the name of John Sidney Howard. Howard, as narrator, relates the story of the book to another member, at his club, while the two of them sit in easy chairs at the fire, drinking port, during an early war bombing raid of London.

Howard, who was depressed over the loss of his son, felt the need to travel to France to fish and enjoy the sunny spring weather. He traveled to a hotel in Cidoton, in the mountains near Switzerland and there met the wife and two children of the English Ambassador to the League of Nations. When France was invaded, the children's parents asked Howard to take the children back to England with him. He thought that the trip would be uneventful and agreed; however, the Germans advanced more quickly than anticipated and rail service was interrupted. The rest of this story is focused on the long and dangerous journey across France. Four more children, all suffering through various misadventures, were added to the group on the way to the coast.

The plan was to ship the children that had no family in England to America, in order to wait out the war with Howard's wealthy married daughter on Long Island. Even with the help of Howard's dead son's French fiancé, they managed to get themselves captured by the Germans at the coast. Howard was about to be shot as a spy when the German Commander offered to let them all go if Howard would agree to take the Commander's orphaned niece with them and get her to her other Uncle in Minnesota.

With help and luck, the group made a successful crossing to England and on to America.

The book is very complimentary to America and the American people and was very popular in this country when it was published. I found it to be an exciting story , not too dated, and would highly recommend it