Thursday 17 February 2022

Book Review: The Little Wartime Library by Kate Thompson

The Little Wartime Library by Kate Thompson book cover

AD* | London, 1944.

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.

Kate Thompson is one of my favourite authors of WW2-era fiction. So, as soon as I heard about her latest novel, of course, I couldn't wait to read it! The Little Wartime Library was actually one of the books I most wanted to read in 2022 and suffice to say, it certainly didn't disappoint.

The story focuses on the lives of those living in London's East End during the latter part of the second world war. Although Clara and Ruby are the two main characters, this is a character-driven story through and through, and it would be doing a disservice to these strong, remarkable people not to include them all. From the overworked factory girls to the young children who know little beyond the safety of the tube tunnels, even the smallest characters play a big role in this story.

It's also important - and amazing - to remember that this is based on a true story. Nowadays, it's virtually impossible to imagine the grief, worry, and despair that so many people faced on a daily basis, all without breaking their stiff upper lips. Yet this book delves deeper, unearthing the real heart that kept these brave people going during their darkest days and nights. Kate Thompson has a knack for portraying the horrors of war through a human lens; it's living, breathing social history.

Whether it's stolen moments of cheeky fun or breathtakingly poignant sadness, there are plenty of heart-in-mouth instances throughout this book. In fact, it's almost impossible not to be moved by the story of these extraordinary East End characters.

A brilliant read - The Little Wartime Library is another firm favourite from Kate Thompson.

Rating: 5 stars 

The Little Wartime Library is available to buy now.

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* I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review

Will you be reading the book? Let me know in the comments below! 

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