37 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Heartwarming tale of RAF Romance
The title does little to offer the reader an insight into the world of a Bomber Station in England during the war. We meet a group of young and not so young men who fly dangerous missions each night and whose lifespan can be measured in days. Rather than the frantic, almost manic lifestyle of fighter pilots, these heroes find solace in a common love of fishing. Into...
Published on 21 April 2001
3.0 out of 5 stars An old favourite
A bit expensive for an electronic replacement for my paper library. A wartime story with a happy ending. One of Neville Shute's best
Published 10 months ago by The Old Boy
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37 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Heartwarming tale of RAF Romance,
By A Customer
20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic love story set in WWII on a UK airbase,
Peter Marshall is an experienced bomber pilot who is well into his second tour of duty. His main interest in life seems to be pike fishing, an interest he shares with the rest of his crew and so in the midst of a terrible war we have this very pastoral scene of someone fishing or going out to look at badgers at night. Then he meets a WAAF signals officer, Gervase Stephenson and shares some of this Pastoral scene with her in between missions. She initially spurns his advances, but then realises her mistake during a mission in which he is faced with the prospect of returning home with a seriously damaged plane and an injured crew.
OK, some of the text seems stilted and everyone talks about S-E-X in such an oblique way. Did people really talk like that only 60 years ago? Sometimes, I catch myself thinking: "If they just hopped into bed everything would be fine." Spurned by his WAAF officer, Peter Marshall starts making mistakes, and I admit I found the part when the plane was faced with a drop into the North Sea and air crew faced almost certain death and they then received the message "Good luck to the Captain and crew" quite moving. Tension mounts in the story as the countdown begins to the end of his tour of duty and as Peter Marshall continues as happy as a sand boy because his WAAF officer loves him, she meanwhile is sick with worry, working in the ops room, painfully aware of anything that goes wrong. Forget, On the Beach, forget A Town Like Alice - this is a wonderful story.
To film script writers: this would make a superb film, how about it?
26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Young Always Believe They’re Immortal,
Pastoral was written during WWII, and from a purely British viewpoint, unlike so many of the war books that were written long after the conflict by so many Americans. As such there is a totally different atmosphere to this book, a quietness, an acceptance of the conditions and requirements of the war as just something that is there, part of the daily routine. And it is within this atmosphere that Nevil constructs a fine love story between the very experienced bomber pilot Peter Marshal (at age 22!) and a W.A.A.F signals officer, Gervase Robertson.
As perhaps is typical for war-time love stories, the war itself provides the conflict, the friction between the lovers, as Peter is duty-bound to continue flying bombing missions, and Gervase believes her own duties are important to the course of the war, and should not be given up merely to get married. Her decline of Peter’s offer of marriage sends Peter into a mental tail-spin, seriously impacting his efficiency as a flyer. How this conflict is resolved and the events that happen because of this conflict form the main portion of this book. Before reaching that point, however, we are treated to a view of English morality and customs of the day, a code that says one mustn’t go off alone with a member of the opposite sex, that married woman are expected to keep house, not have jobs, where the woman must defer to the man. A view that might seem dreadfully stifling and old-fashioned to a reader of today’s world, but it shown in such a non-obtrusive way that the reader can accept it without question. Until, that is, the reader finishes the book, and realizes that Neville has been quietly showing (and mildly satirizing) both the good and bad qualities of such a code. This is typical of Nevil’s writing – his points are made far more by showing, rather than telling, always a mark of a fine writer. Also noteworthy is the attitude towards the war that is displayed by all the characters here – that death is an everyday happening, but it won’t happen to me, it only happens to someone else, so it is safely ignorable. An attitude that seems to belong to every young person.
Nevil’s prose style tends towards the descriptive, especially of the countryside and everyday actions. His dialogue in this book is loaded with English slang, very typical of actual speech patterns of the day, but this does at times make it somewhat hard for the poor modern American reader to decode what is being said. And some of Nevil’s expertise as an avionics engineer shows in his descriptions of the aircraft and the functioning of various parts of these machines, at times obviously assuming that reader knows more about aircraft than is normally the case. These, however, are very minor negatives, almost totally subsumed by the engagement of the reader in the story of these two very well realized characters.
This book deserves an attentive read, if nothing else just to see how a romance really should be written, as opposed to the items that pass for ‘romance’ on the book racks of today.
--- Reviewed by Patrick Shepherd (hyperpat)
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars wonderful feel-good romance,
this is not perhaps as good a book as 'a town like alice', yet i prefer it (just). and i agree with pwhsmith - there should have been a film of this.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A truly captivating love story!,Pastoral is set in 1943, at the height of the Second World War, and tells the story of Flight Lieutenant Peter Marshall, a Wellington bomber pilot on his second tour of duty in Bomber Command, and Section Officer Gervase Laura Robertson, a W.A.A.F. signals officer recently posted to Marshall's base at Hartley.
Marshall and his crew flew together throughout his first tour of duty in Bomber Command, and with perhaps the change of only one or two members, have stayed together so far for all of the second. This familiarity, reinforced by a camaraderie and spirit of comradeship formed through a shared interest in fishing, helps to make Marshall and his team one of the "lucky" and most successful crews at Hartley. (While most of the other pilots are surviving only one or two missions before being killed, Marshall and the crew of "R" for Robert just keep coming back for more!)
While off-duty one evening, Marshall enters into a conversation about badgers and foxes with a local tractor salesman in one of the village pubs, and how he has never seen any in real life, despite being based in the country. However, the tractor salesman, through his contacts with local farmers, has seen many himself and offers to take Marshall to a spot where he is "guaranteed" to see both a badger AND a fox within a quarter of an hour.
When Marshall returns to the Station, he tells the Station Commander and Adjutant about the bet he has made with the tractor salesman, and asks for permission to leave the Station on the specified evening in order to meet him. In the meantime, Gervase Robertson overhears the conversation and is reminded of her home in the rolling countryside of Yorkshire. The combination of high casualty rate among the aircrews and the relatively dull, flat landscape of Oxfordshire serve to make Gervase increasingly homesick, and Marshall's talk of looking for badgers and foxes in the middle of the night remind her even more of how much she misses her home.
Thus begins the love story between the bomber pilot with his air of confidence and quiet competence, coupled with his apparent interest in the countryside, and the pretty, young section officer, who is willing to listen to him. Nevil Shute's narrative takes us through the highs and lows of a wartime romance, while his description of two night time raids over Germany will leave you spellbound. Nevil Shute was an aircraft engineer before the Second World War and served in it as an RNVR commander, working on secret projects; his technical knowledge helped him to describe accurately the setting for this novel, without overburdening the lay reader with jargon.
I have been an ardent Nevil Shute fan since I first read "On the Beach" as a young teenager; Pastoral was the second Shute novel that I read. I believe this is a truly captivating love story that you will want to read again and again. Indeed, one of my fantasies IS to make this one into a film. Any budding screenplay writers interested in getting in on this with me?
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A vastly underrated classic,
This review is from: Pastoral (Vintage Classics) (Paperback)Like other reviewers, I agree that the title - 'Pastoral' - does not really reflect the content. In today's society, novel titles have to be more functional. But remember, this was written 60 years ago, in a hugely different society.
Nevil Shute's writing style is classic, and ageless. His love of the technology of the day, and his ease at creating well rounded characters make him a joy to read, over and over again. 'Pastoral' will stand such re-reading.
It stands up there as one of my favourite books.
His descriptions of life on a busy bomber station bring it vividly to life. The tensions in the Ops Room contrast with the long periods of boredom for the bomber crews, and the whole story builds to a nerve wracking climax.
I agree - this has all the hallmarks of an excellent film-to-be. Come on Hollywood, how about it!
5.0 out of 5 stars love and delight amid wartime bombing raids,
This review is from: Pastoral (Vintage Classics) (Kindle Edition)A sensitive and thoughtful story. It has technical content, historic reality and displays Shute's knowledge of aviation and his careful treatment of relationships
5.0 out of 5 stars A heart warming war-time romance.,
This review is from: Pastoral (Vintage Classics) (Kindle Edition)I first read this lovely gentle romance many years ago when in my teens and was entranced. I downloaded it to my Kindle for sentimental reasons as much as anything else and re-read it. I found that my mature self enjoyed the story just as much, if not more than I did so many years ago.
4.0 out of 5 stars Old fashioned but a good read,
This review is from: Pastoral (Vintage Classics) (Kindle Edition)This book is written in an old fashioned style but is nevertheless is a good story - a simple tale of love in the war.
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent read,
This review is from: Pastoral (Vintage Classics) (Kindle Edition)an excellent read.Gentle, innocent and engaging. A love story without being too girlie. I loved the description of the farms and so on.
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Pastoral (Vintage Classics) by Nevil Shute