How he gets them through Nazi-occupied France makes Pied Piper a hair-raising tale, but what struck me most about the story was the small graces that were extended to him and the children along the way. Along with incidents of sickness, hunger, and stolen luggage, there are also moments when they were given a meal, a hayloft to sleep in, or a broken down pram in which to carry their few belongings. Just as the responsibility of caring for all these children of various ages and nationalities becomes overwhelming, Howard encounters a young woman who insists on coming with him to help.
The story of his faithful, honorable, self-giving love for the children would have been a good enough story in itself, but the addition of Nicole, adds a beautiful element to the story. Not only does she help with the children, the two of them help each other grieve various losses.
This is a lovely, lovely story that I look forward to revisiting in the future. My experience was greatly enhanced by the narrator of my audio book, David Rintoul, who not only spoke French beautifully, but also did a bang-up job with voices of the women and children.
This is my first Nevile Shute novel and I'm a bit afraid to try another since his other books have very mixed reviews (except for A Town Like Alice, which appears to be a classic). Have you read him? Do you have a favorite?
P.S. I found two movie versions on YouTube but neither do the book justice. The 1942 version makes John out to be a buffoon (which he definitely is not), but the other actors were very good; the Peter O'Toole version was better, but not great. Read the book!