Pied Piper ~ Nevil Shute

► door: A.IJ. van den Berg

Nevil Shute probably taught me to read English, as there were not that many translations of his books available, and I really liked the way he told his stories. It is hard to reconstruct what I read when I was thirteen or fourteen. But, Shute’s novels certainly were among them. They were the first English books I bought for sure .

Something has changed, though. And I keep his books in boxes somewhere; not in my bookcases anymore. The main reason for that is I have become allergic for anything remotely connected to the Second World War.

Many of Shute’s books are set in that war.

And to be honest, I reckon my taste in books is a bit above storytellers nowadays. It seems I have forgotten how much a well-told story has to offer.

Granted, Pied Piper is a comforting read overall. The reader knows from the beginning the story’ll end well; however dire the straits may look. Other people may die, because there is a war going on, our hero does not suffer that much. Except maybe that he’s old, and that he feels very responsible for the children in his care, and the young woman who helps them to escape from occupied France.

The book has some very well written scenes – like the arrival in Portsmouth – and it must have made an impact when I first read it, because I clearly remembered several plot lines, almost twenty-five years later.

Reading it meant a couple of hours well spend, though. It seems I’ve put these books away a bit too soon.

Nevil Shute, Pied Piper
286 pages
1942, reprinted 1997