Book Reviews

Review: The Little Wartime Library by Kate Thompson

My heart broke every time I listened to The Little Wartime Library. This book just landed in my lap – or in my ears since I was listening to the audiobook – at an emotional time in my life and I teared up like every day. Keep reading this book review for my full thoughts.


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.


(Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)

TW: sexism, miscarriage, PTSD, panic attacks, domestic abuse

The Little Wartime Library is a book that moved me on a variety of levels. Firstly, the sexism Clara and the women in this book have to endure is heart wrenching. This historical fiction book takes us back to a time – or maybe not even so far – when the sexism against women’s literary taste and their ‘expected behavior’ was incredibly conservative. Conversations about what they should be reading and what ‘bad ideas’ they were reading about in books – like emancipation, agency, and pleasure.

My blood was boiling on an almost daily basis as Clara fought not only for women’s right to reading, but also to the education of children. Additionally, the literary elitism and classicism from the antagonists in the book was another source of rage. How clearly it tried to use books or the access to books against the poor. To not see the ability of reading for transformation, dreams, and ambition all the way to pleasure, enjoyment, and escapism.

At the same time, The Little Wartime Library did not shy away from the trauma of the war, loss, and danger. These scenes were chilling. My heart broke for Clara and all the characters. All the ways in which we seek to drown out the fears and our guilt. Or the ways in which we don’t talk about the true horrors and the coping we are doing from the war.

(Disclaimer: Some of the links below are affiliate links. For more information you can look at the Policy page. If you’re uncomfortable with that, know you can look up the book on any of the sites below to avoid the link)

All in all, if you are a historical fiction fan and a book worm, this has to be on your TBR. It’s a testament to the importance of libraries and the right to read – a right and space which is currently in danger. Find The Little Wartime Library on Goodreads, Storygraph, Amazon,, & Blackwells.


Do you have a favorite historical fiction release?

Share this post

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.