Books, reading and therefore libraries are important at all times and in this novel, based on events during the Second World War, are important to the residents of Bethnal Green.
The unfinished underground station becomes the unlikely home of the Bethnal Green library as the original one was destroyed during the blitz. Librarian, Clara Button and her assistant Ruby Monroe have decamped underground to still serve the local residents with books, information , a shoulder to cry on and most importantly forms of escapism. But it is not just the locals, a whole world has opened up underneath he streets of London and bombed out residents are seeking shelter as well.
This is a forward thinking library, with bedtime stories for the smaller residents of the station as well as visits to local factories for those on shift work that cannot get to the library, a solace for overwhelmed mothers and an information point on being able to take control of your life. For some Clara and her ideas are a bit too forward thinking and it seems is cutting articles out of newspapers and spying on what is really going on amongst the bookshelves of stories.
A wonderful book full of so much, the impact of war on many different generations, domestic violence, female emancipation, sexual freedoms, loss, death, grief and that stoicism that seems to come out of these times.
An escapism to another time, which shows you the joy books bring no matter when we are reading them and under what circumstances.
For fans of books, libraries, reading and books based on the Second World War.
Thank you to the publisher via netgalley for the opportunity to read this book.
The Little Wartime Library is out now.