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The Little Wartime Library: A gripping, heart-wrenching WW2 page-turner based on real events

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Kate has such a talent for bringing history to vivid life. Utterly transporting, vivid and fresh."— Iona Grey, bestselling author of Letters to the Lost Young librarian and widow Clara Button works in the underground library during WW2. The library is located in the disused tube station in Bethnal Green. It’s an actual godsend in many ways = not only from the bombs but from the daily grind. This is where people can meet and talk as well as there being so many books there! I loved the people who worked there and I felt I really got to know them very well really early on. This has to be one of my best books of 2022. Yes I realise we’ve barely woken up from the new year celebrations but this is such a wonderful story, beautifully told that I am sure I am going to be hard pressed to find a match to this. 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. This is a remarkable novel inspired by the even more remarkable real life story of a library under ground! The library is the one at Bethnal Green in a disused tube station during the war.

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. Kate Thompson is unafraid to present difficult issues like domestic abuse, loss, guilt and mental health problems. Yet they never make the story maudlin or depressing. Contrary to popular belief, during the Second World War, not all shelterers slept in an amorphous huddle on a dirty Underground platform. The history of World War Two is full of surprises, mostly tales of unspeakable deprivation, sacrifice and bloodshed, but just occasionally, magic. Kate Thompson ни вкарва в лондонското метро, което след ужасяващите бомбардировки над Лондон се превръща в приют на бездомни, уплашени и бягащи от несигурността хора. Всъщност става дума за Бетнал Грийн - недовършена спирка на централната линия на метрото, свързваща Майл Енд с Ливърпул стрийт стейшън. Който познава добре столицата на Великобритания, може би ще разбере за какво става дума. И там, 78 фута под земята, хората намират единственото място, където не се чуват бомбите, взривовете и воят на сирените. Създават своето тайно село и се превръщат в сплотена общност, опитваща се да оцелее. В тази станция се открива приют с тройни легла за 5000 човека, театър за представления, кафене, медицински пункт със сестри и лекари, зала за танци с роял. И с библиотека. Която е биещотото сърце на хората, решили да не оставят войната да им отнеме човешките нужди.I especially enjoyed Clara’s clashes with the hoity-toity Library Committee Chair Mr. Pinkerton-Smythe. Library work isn’t all about books. It’s the people who make it special; you never know who’s going to walk in and what their story is.” I absolutely loved the story of the underground community and learning more about the heart of soul of this community: the library, its Librarian, and its people. In the now disused undergrown tube stations of London, there is a community of people living in makeshift shelters, after being forced out of their homes by Nazi bombs. There is to be found, at the underground station of Bethnal Green something truly remarkable - the country’s only underground library, which was created by Librarian, Clara Button, after the original library above ground was destroyed in the bombings. It is, perhaps, the least pretentious branch library yet built. Fifteen feet square, it is mere sentry box of a place. We could have done with more room but the powers that be did not see eye-to-eye with us.”

The crowd murmurs in anticipation. There is a drumroll. The presenter is given the envelope. It’s opened and I say….. The underground library becomes the center of the community. In addition to living in constant threat of bombing, the librarians have to deal with their patrons' controlling, abusive husbands; administrators bent on censorship; unsupervised children; and safety concerns, such as a rapist roaming the streets. Most of the men in this story have a Gaston-like attitude that women shouldn't be reading books and getting ideas. Their responsibility is to be beautiful, get married, have babies, and essentially be mindless slaves to their husbands; nevermind all the war widows, there's little compassion for them. During the first week of the blitz, the Bethnal Green library was destroy, due to the war, construction of the Bethnal Green tube station had stopped and the vast empty space wasn’t being used. Despite losing her mentor, Clara Button and her assistant Ruby Munroe open an underground library and a sanctuary in London's East End. Goodreads е постигнала изключително висок рейтинг! Ако някой не може да си представи какво може да направи една война с човешката природа; до какво може да доведе липсата на човечност у Хомо Сапиенс и как четенето на книги от децата ни може да спре възможността им сами да мислят и преценяват света - нека прочете The Little Wartime Library. Деца са бъдещето ни ! А библиотеките и училищата са мястото, където ще го направят светло! За да не позволяват някой да мисли вместо тях и да ги обрича с изкривени коментари на действителността!The Little Wartime Library was such an immensely heartwarming read. I laughed and cried through the entire thing, completely enraptured. The characters were so endearing, and the true story behind the underground library is absolutely incredible. People who love books about books must read this gem!" For borough librarian George F Vale and his deputy, Stanley Snaith, the underground village that had developed at Bethnal Green station was the perfect opportunity to set up a makeshift library and provide the local community with access to free books once more. “The opportunity of founding a tube shelter library was too good to miss,” Stanley wrote in an article in Library Review in the spring of 1942. I’m really struggling with what to write about this book. I tried to major in the Library Media Specialist program at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and unfortunately I wasn’t able to get a major in the program because I was disabled and I want to give a giant shout out to Ann Zarrinia and Eileen Shroeder who ran the department together and the head librarian of the Palmyra Public Library whose name I have forgotten during 2010 which refused to let me complete my internship for not allowing me to complete my major. There’s a very interesting author’s note in the book that mentions librarians helping the mentally disabled and look at how they helped me! Kate Thompson has conducted a range of historical research to magnify the events, time period and finer moments of this wartime novel. With a hearty author’s note, a select bibliography, a segment on the true story of the Bethnal Green Library and the fight to save it, along with a ‘Read for Victory’ bonus piece, I appreciated all the extra flourishes contained in this text. As a bibliophile I was moved by the various librarian quotes integrated into the chapter openings. So, there is more than just a moving narrative to enjoy when readers select The Little Wartime Library by Kate Thompson!

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