Blog tour: The Wartime Book Club

Welcome to the blog tour for The Wartime Book Club by Kate Thompson!

More about the book…

Jersey, 1943. Once a warm and neighbourly community, now German soldiers patrol the cobbled streets, imposing a harsh rule on the people of the island.

Grace La Mottée, the island's only librarian, is ordered to destroy books which threaten the new regime. Instead, she hides the stories away in secret. Along with her headstrong best friend, postwoman Bea Rose, she wants to fight back. So she forms the wartime book club: a lifeline, offering fearful islanders the joy and escapism of reading.

But as the occupation drags on, the women's quiet acts of bravery become more perilous - and more important - than ever before. And, when tensions turn to violence, they are forced to face the true, terrible cost of resistance…

More about the author…

Kate Thompson was born in London 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 two rescue dogs. 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. She is passionate about capturing lost voices and untold social histories.

Today Kate works as a journalist, author and library campaigner. Her most recent books, The Little Wartime Library (2022) and The Wartime Book Club (2023) by Hodder & Stoughton focus on two remarkable libraries in wartime. Her 100 libraries project, celebrates the richness and complexity of librarians work and the vital role of libraries in our communities.

My impressions…

I know Kate Thompson through her podcast, From the Library with Love, but this was the first time I read one of her books and I don’t want it to be the last. What a marvel of a novel. I honestly don’t know where to begin.

Simply put, it’s a book about two lifelong friends, Grace and Bea, who find small (but, in reality, pretty significant) ways to rebel against the Nazi occupation of their island, Jersey. But then, it is also an ode to books and their power, to resilience in the face of adversity. It is about friends and family – whether it’s by blood or choice. There are tears, laughter, moments of despair, as well as joy.

If I’m honest, I think I read a good half of the book without daring to breathe. This book is so well-researched that I felt like I was right there, standing by this incredible cast of major and minor characters, where ‘minor’ purely refers to the number of times they appear on the page. Yes, because in this story, based on incredible real events, nobody played a minor role.

To make this book even more memorable, after reaching the last full stop – and permission to breathe again – I happily discovered a treasure trove of extra content, including a letter in which the author explains where the inspiration for the book came from, and notes about the real people who feature, directly or indirectly, in the novel.

This is one of those books that will stay with me for a long time. One of the books mentioned in the story, The Book Lovers’ Anthology, contains a quote that seems very apt in this case, so I will leave you with it: ‘Much reading is like much eating, wholly useless without digestion’ (R. South).

Three words to describe it. Inspiring. Emotional. Gripping.

Do I like the cover? Yes, it’s beautiful!

Have I read any other books by the same author? No, and, for the life of me, I don’t know why!


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