Reviewed By  Janet Mawdesley       February 28, 2022


Author  Kate Thompson

Distributor:       Booktopia/Amazon 
Publisher:         Hachette Australia imprint Hodder & Stoughton
Release Date:   February 2020  


If you have a book you have a friend. For the 15 thousand plus Londoners in 1944, who were living in the Bethnal Green tube station through the mayhem and carnage of the terrible years of the blitz, this was certainly true; reading helped members of this community escape from the world of rubble and rations.

No ordinary librarian Clara Button, a war widow needing something worthwhile to do, and her larger than life, glamourous and best friend library assistant Ruby Munroe run an extraordinary library in the half completed underground stop at Bethnal Green. It is a vital haven for the resilient community where everyone is welcome, where they can switch off for a short while and escape the realities of a city under siege.

 Together they devise many ingenious ways to bring books to the wider community; they deliver to factories to shift workers, who are unable to visit during library hours, hold nightly popular story times for children and also a boozy book club, which is equally well received, for their exhausted mothers. 

However, not everyone wants Clara and Ruby’s help and there are those, who are determined to make their lives as difficult as possible. This is an era where generally men were the rulers and women the lesser species; reading gave women notions beyond their station in life.

Author Kate Thompson’s inspirational book ‘The Little Wartime Library’ was motivated by the astonishing true story of an underground library and is based on the true events taking place in London during WWII. It transports readers to an entirely different world underground with its vibrant characters, who while the bombs are falling above them, are fighting wars of their own. This well researched, heartwarming story is about love, loss, forgiveness, acceptance and sacrifice.

A book you’ll want to recommend to your friends.