During the Second World War, many British citizens took shelter underground where the bombs couldn’t reach them. They would sometimes wrap an extra layer of protection around their hearts and minds by escaping into good books.
The Little Wartime Library gives readers a chance to understand the power of comfort-reading. It’s a book that’s difficult to set aside once you bond with the characters you’ll meet within the pages. The story reveals itself best when read while snuggled into your safest, coziest corner, preferably with blankets and tea (or gin).
Knowing that this fictional story is heavily based on the very real history of a tiny, makeshift library hidden away as part of a secret village that’s coalesced inside a tube tunnel deep underground in London’s East End makes it all so much more meaningful, and a little bit more magical.
The reader becomes a time traveler. It’s impossible to feel as if you’re passively reading a story about fictional characters. I stayed up hours past my usual bedtime more than once, simply because I had left my own home, crossed the pond, and escaped to the Bethnal Green tube station. I needed to know if my new friends were going to be okay, and certainly couldn’t leave them hanging in the midst of one of the many adventures or situations they get into. I cared about them all. (Okay, I absolutely loathed two of them, but trust me, you will too. And for good reason!)
Author Kate Thompson is a masterful storyteller who took the time to do the work before setting pen to paper. Her research pays off with a story that’s already a classic, as far as I’m concerned.
If you are curious about how ordinary people got by during the war, you’ll gain so much insight. If you’re a bookworm who likes seeing librarians get the spotlight, dive in! If you aren’t sure if this book is for you, just check to see if you have a heartbeat. Yes? Great, it’s for you, too.
There’s a bonus in the back of the book that feels like a ‘making of’ movie featurette. This extensive section will delight book clubs, along with anyone interested in behind the scenes photos and explanations about the events, people, and places that inspired this story.
My only regret is that various online systems won’t allow me to give this book higher than 5 stars.