Blog Tours book reviews

BLOG TOUR: The Little Wartime Library by Kate Thompson

Published: September 1st, 2022
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Genre: Historical Fiction, War Story, Saga
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audiobook

Today is my stop on the blog tour for this extraordinary story. Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part and to Hodder & Stoughton for the gifted copy of the book.



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.

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.



“History isn’t about dates and battlefields, leaders and royalty. It’s about ordinary people getting on with the business of living in spite of such unforgiving odds. And somehow in the process always managing to hold hard to hope.” 

London, 1944. In disused tube stations there is now a community of people living in makeshift shelters after being forced from their homes by Nazi bombs. The station at Bethnal Green is also home to something truly remarkable: the country’s only underground library, which was created by Librarian Clara after the one above ground was destroyed. Assisted by her best friend Ruby, Clara offers people an escape from the harsh realities of war through books and has created a thriving place of friendship and sanctuary for the residents. But there are some who don’t like what the library has become and Clara, Ruby and their patrons are forced to come together to battle other enemies close to home.

Based on an astonishing true story, this was an absolute gem of a book.  A moving tale about an unusual library and its patrons, it has heartbreak and joy in equal measure with strands of hope woven into the narrative.  I loved the addition of the quotes from library workers at the beginning of each chapter and the Author’s Note at the end is a must-read. 

“They were a community, albeit a strange one, living along the Central Line but going nowhere.” 

I had heard of people taking refuge in the underground stations during the Blitz, but before reading this book I had no idea that people lived there in communities or that one had a library built in.  How has this extraordinary story gone untold for so long?  Kate Thompson resurrects this unique neighbourhood, transporting the reader back in time so you feel as if you are walking among them.  They are a colourful cast of characters, so full of life and a contrast to the bleakness of their temporary home.  You can feel the bonds that they formed and the importance of the library as an escape for them.  It was a light in the darkest of times, and I felt as passionate as Clara and Ruby as they fought for the little library and its patrons. 

Powerful, poignant and immersive, this heartwarming page-turner is a story everyone should read.  An inspiring story of friendship, resilience and hope, it is a reminder that truth is often stranger and more compelling than fiction.  I would love to see this adapted for the big screen so that more people can discover this extraordinary tale. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰ 



Kate Thompson was born in London in 1974, and worked as a journalist for twenty years on women’s magazines and national newspapers. She now lives in Sunbury with her husband, two sons and a Lurcher called Ted. After ghost writing five memoirs, Kate moved into fiction. Kate’s first non-fiction social history documenting the forgotten histories of East End matriarchy, The Stepney Doorstep Society, was published in 2018 by Penguin. Her seventh novel, The Little Wartime Library is to be published by Hodder & Stoughton in the spring of 2022.




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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles, Emma xxxxx

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