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Thank you to NetGalley and Hatchette Audio for providing me with a free audio version of this book for review. 


Title: The Wartime Book Club

Author: Kate Thompson

Narrator: Imogen Church

Publisher: Hatchette Audio

Publication Date: 9 April 2024

Genre: 20th Century Historical Fiction, Women’s Friendships, World War II Historical Fiction

Format: Audiobook

Listening Time: 16 hours and 31 minutes

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ABOUT THE BOOK (from the book)

Inspired by true events, The Wartime Book Club is an unforgettable story of everyday bravery and resistance, full of romance, drama, and camaraderie and a tribute to the joy of reading and the power of books in our darkest hour.

The Isle of Jersey was once a warm and neighborly community, but in 1943, German soldiers patrol the cobbled streets, imposing a harsh rule.

Nazis have ordered Grace La Mottée, the island’s only librarian, to destroy books that threaten the new regime. Instead, she hides the stories away in secret. Along with her headstrong best friend, 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…

Based on astonishing real events, The Wartime Book Club is a love letter to the power of books in the darkest of times–as well as a moving work that brings to life the remarkable, untold story of an island at war.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR (from her website)

Kate Thompson was born in London and worked as a journalist for women’s magazines and national newspapers before becoming a novelist. Over the past ten years, Kate has written twelve fiction and nonfiction titles, three of which have made the Sunday Times top ten bestseller list. She now lives in Sunbury with her husband, two sons, and two rescued Lurcher dogs, Ted and Saphhie.

Follow Kate Thompson on Facebook and Twitter {I refuse to call it “X,” that’s just stupid!}. Listen to her podcast here.


Audiobook Ninja, Actor, Writer, Adopter…. my one-woman-full-cast-comedy-horror-audio-drama Boop! is out now on XigXag… Wellness has never been so sick…

Follow Imogen Church on Instagram and Twitter .



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Five-Star Read

This is one of those stories that will stick with me for a long time. We all know the horror stories about World War II, but precious few of us know the stories of individual or communal acts of resistance. This is one of those stories.

After being told to destroy all books that have been deemed forbidden by the Nazi occupiers, Grace, the head librarian, goes to extreme lengths to not only hide the forbidden books, but to continue to distribute them to those in her community. She even provides books for her Jewish neighbors who are in hiding. Books provide a way of escape for those who can no longer walk freely and they provide a sense of community for those who are living under the rigors of occupation.

Bea, her best friend, uses her position as a postal worker to warn her neighbors that they’ve come under the suspicion of their occupiers. She does this at great risk to herself and her family, but her sense of loyalty to her community is worth the risk.

The characters are well developed and sympathetic. What I appreciated most about the characters is that they show growth — their core stays the same, but, over time, they either toughen or soften as needed, without compromising their values. Both Bea and Grace have a strong sense of right and wrong, and they use their beliefs to challenge each other, provide cover for each other, and support each other.

Some of the topics that Thompson dealt with in this novel are some that I haven’t run across in previous World War II historical fiction: abortion, book banning, restriction of medical services, and more. For example, there’s Peter {I’m sure I’m spelling his name differently than it’s spelled in the book — part of the negative of listening to a story rather than reading it}, who is autistic. He’s treated as a valuable member of the community by the islanders and plays a vital role in maintaining some sense of normalcy for those in the occupied territory. Thompson also references others in the community who would’ve been targeted by the Nazis: single mothers, members of the LGBT community, etc.

There’s also a host of supporting characters who provide humor, romance, and intrigue. Red, the American who loves books as much as Grace. The postal workers who tease Bea mercilessly, but love her unconditionally. Then there are the Bea and Grace’s mothers, who are left to deal with their individual grief while remaining strong for their families.

Last, but not least, this book is testament to the importance of libraries and books to their communities. Those who would ban book or censor ideas are never on the right side of history. Pay close attention to what is going on in your communities, support your libraries, speak up when you hear your librarians being maligned, read banned books, and call out injustice.


I cannot express how much I enjoyed listening to Imogen Church. Her narration was expressive and heart felt. There were a lot of characters for her to voice and she was able to provide enough distinction that it wasn’t overly difficult to tell when one character ended and another started. And this was no easy feat, given she voiced characters of different genders, ages, and nationalities. Her reading style and narration voice {not character voice} was soothing, bordering on relaxing, which says a lot given the subject matter.

I’d definitely listen to an audiobook narrated by Imogen Church again and would recommend her to those who are new to audiobooks.

Recommended For

Book clubs, naturally, and anyone who has a love of historical fiction or novels where women’s relationships are centered.

The Extras

Just when I thought the story had ended, Kate Thompson provided a treasure trove of additional resources for this novel. She talked about the people she interviewed for this story and shared bits and bobs about the meals she ate. And, oh the list of books, all while listening to the story, I kept reminding myself that I wanted to go back and write down the titles of some of the books that were mentioned, but Kate saved me the tedium of the listen and pause by providing an abbreviated reading list. She also talked about the lost art of letter writing {letter writing plays a significant role in this story}, and I found it fascinating {years ago, I was an avid letter writer}.

Trigger Warnings

Censorship, discussions of abortion, violence, and, of course, reference to the horrors of Nazi Germany.


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