The Little Wartime Library by Kate Thompson

March 15th, 2023 Kimberly Guest Post, Review 6 Comments

15th Mar

Sophia Rose is here with a WWII era historical fiction you won’t want to miss. Come check out her thoughts on The Little Wartime Library by Kate Thompson perfect for book lovers and historical fans alike.

The Little Wartime Library by Kate Thompson
The Little Wartime Library
by Kate Thompson
Genres: Historical Fiction
Source: Publisher
Purchase*: Amazon | Audible *affiliate
Rating: One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

An uplifting and inspiring novel based on the true story of a librarian who created an underground shelter during World War II, perfect for readers of The Paris Library or The Last Bookshop in London.

London, 1944: Clara Button is no ordinary librarian. While war ravages the city above her, Clara has risked everything she holds dear to turn the Bethnal Green tube station into the country’s only underground library. Down here, a secret community thrives with thousands of bunk beds, a nursery, a café, and a theater—offering shelter, solace, and escape from the bombs that fall upon their city.

Along with her glamorous best friend and 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 may come at the price of keeping those closest to them alive.

Sophia Rose’s Review

Sometimes it only takes a glance at the title to know that herein lies a soul match book. Library love, WWII London underground community, and the resourceful spirit of a pair of women librarians and the community of the Bethnal Green underground tugged at my heart and left only satisfaction in their wake.

The Little Wartime Library is a book framed by author’s message and notes and modern-day prologue and epilogue. The heart of the story is set in WWII era, London, during the devastating days of bombing. Right when it seems the most nonsensical time to put time and resources into a lending library, theater, or music is exactly the time to do it and they did. People needed this library, and the determined help of Clara the Librarian more than ever. 

This ode to libraries and WWII era books and librarians introduces a community of people brought together by war and needed the isle of calm the library gave them when up against terrors like refugees from the Nazi occupation of the Channel Islands and the bombings on the home front while a nation is in a desperate war. Based on the real existence of the Bethnal Green underground community, the historical authenticity and historical mile markers- like the Bethnal Green tube disaster, Jersey, and other devastation- settled over the story as added layers letting the character-driven plot action and colorful, complex characters shine in the forefront.

The narration is shared in alternating turns by Clara the librarian at the center of it all and gutsy Ruby her assistant from the lower class London East End, a shining character who I enjoyed quite a lot.  They were up against those, mostly male authority, who thought they knew better whether there should be a library or not and their own personal pains, losses, secrets, and demons filled in the conflict. But, like old-style bartenders with Google-savvy minds, the librarians were more than book pushers and really heard out people and dispensed advice and help with their book offerings (hats off to the librarians who are still at it today). I loved seeing Clara and Ruby making a difference for this unique community living in the underground tubes (subways) after the bombs started pounding aboveground London to bits. I liked the little romance for Clara, though she’s getting past her loss, so it wasn’t the forefront of the story.

My emotions were tugged in several directions, from heartbreak to hope to bittersweet and joy. The pages flew past, and I was finished reading before I knew it. This Ode to Libraries left me well-pleased and it will surprise no one that I think all book-lovers, whether they like the historical era or not, should give it a go.

Amazon | Audible

About Kate Thompson

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.

caffeinated coffee cup divider

Stay Caffeinated!

Never miss a post by adding Caffeinated to your Inbox

About Sophia Rose

Sophia Rose

Sophia is a quiet though curious gal who dabbles in cooking, book reviewing, and gardening. Encouraged and supported by an incredible man and loving family. A Northern Californian transplant to the Great Lakes Region of the US. Lover of Jane Austen, Baseball, Cats, Scooby Doo, and Chocolate.

Photo of kimbacaffeinate
About Kimberly
Kimberly is a coffee loving book addict who reads and listens to fictional stories in all genres. Whovian, Ravenclaw, Howler and proud Nonna. She owns and manages Caffeinated PR. The coffee is always on and she is ready to chat. Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

6 Responses to “The Little Wartime Library by Kate Thompson”

  1. Katherine

    This reminds me a little bit of The Last Bookshop in London which was one of my favorite books the year I read it. This sounds absolutely wonderful. I’m adding it to my TBR.

    • Sophia Rose

      I’ve heard good things about that one, too, Katherine. I think it might have a similar feel to it based on what others have said.


    Oh I wish I had snagged this one on Netgalley Sophia Rose, I’m checking it out on Amazon right now. Thanks for the super review

    • Sophia Rose

      You bet! I would have missed it but they sent me a direct invitation so I saw it and yes, wanted it right away. 🙂