The Little Wartime Library
By Kate Thompson
What it’s about?
Clara Button is no ordinary librarian. While the world remains at war, in East London Clara has created the country’s only underground library, built over the tracks in the disused Bethnal Green tube station. Down here a secret community thrives: with thousands of bunk beds, a nursery, a café and a theatre offering shelter, solace and escape from the bombs that fall above.
Along with her glamorous best friend and library assistant Ruby Munroe, Clara ensures the library is the beating heart of life underground. But as the war drags on, the women’s determination to remain strong in the face of adversity is tested to the limits when it seems it may come at the price of keeping those closest to them alive.
Based on true events, The Little Wartime Library is a gripping and heart-wrenching page-turner that remembers one of the greatest resistance stories of the war.
What I think:
Oh my goodness, this book gives you all the feels!
There were parts that were genuinely heartbreaking as the residents of Bethnal Green live with the day to day reality of the war. The uncertainty and fear is so real and pours off the page. All of the characters, especially the children, experience heartbreaking grief as the bombs fall on the East End.
But there is also a lot of joy and camaraderie. Clara and Ruby have built something that special in the underground tunnels. The library becomes a sanctuary for the bereaved, the lonely, and the children whose childhood has been so cruel taken from them.
Clara and Ruby are wonderful characters. Clara is kind and thoughtful. She goes out of her way to support people and she does what she can to make life better for everyone. But as a war widow herself, she is also coping with grief and the possibility of moving on and finding love with someone else.
Ruby is sassy and confident. With her bright red lipstick she is the ‘Betty Grable of Bethnal Green’ and explores the sexual and social freedoms offered by the war. But her confidence hides her own grief after the horrifying death of her sister and the daily domestic violence experienced by her mother.
This book does not shy away from the reality of the war for this community.
Based on real-life experiences the amount of research that has gone into the book is phenomenal. There’s a section at the end woth the real story of the Underground Library which is absolutely fascinating.
This is a wonderful read. Absolutely 5 stars from me! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
About the author:
Kate Thompson an award-winning journalist, ghostwriter and novelist who has spent the past two decades in the UK mass market and book publishing industry. Over the past eight years Kate has written eleven fiction and non-fiction titles, three of which have made the Sunday Times top ten bestseller list.
Thank you to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for inviting me to be a part of this wonderful blog tour.