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An unforgettable novel of a broken library and the three women who take it underground, mending their own hearts in the process.

When new deputy librarian, Juliet Lansdown, finds that Bethnal Green Library isn't the bustling hub she's expecting, she becomes determined to breathe life back into it. But can she show the men in charge that a woman is up to the task of running it, especially when a confrontation with her past threatens to derail her?

Katie Upwood is thrilled to be working at the library, although she's only there until she heads off to university in the fall. But after the death of her beau on the front line and amid tumultuous family strife, she finds herself harboring a life-changing secret with no one to turn to for help. 

"A library of truth,
deep in the heart of me."

Sofie Baumann, a young Jewish refugee, came to London on a domestic service visa only to find herself working as a maid for a man who treats her abominably. She escapes to the library every chance she can, finding friendship in the literary community and aid in finding her sister, who is still trying to flee occupied Europe.

When a slew of bombs destroys the library, Juliet relocates the stacks to the local Underground station where the city's residents shelter nightly, determined to lend out stories that will keep spirits up. But tragedy after tragedy threatens to unmoor the women and sever the ties of their community. Will Juliet, Kate, and Sofie be able to overcome their own troubles to save the library? Or will the beating heart of their neighborhood be lost forever?

Early Reader Reviews
  • “Perfectly combines a bookworm's dream with a historical fiction novel. This book tells a fantastic homefront story and illustrates how books can transform the mind and spirit. Not only does Ryan reference many books and authors, but she also displays how books can transport us when we feel lost and alone. This was just so amazing. I loved every minute.”


  • “I thoroughly enjoyed this book! I was reading it on the plane and a woman who was seated near me said, “I heard that was a great book.” To which I replied, “Yes it is, I can’t put it down!” I loved the characters and the historical context of this story.”


  • “I loved the friendship that develops that between the women, and I LOVED the attention to detail and glimpse into what life was like in London during the bombings. Highly recommend this book, and I will be looking for the author's other novels!”


  • “Jennifer Ryan has just written a wonderful story, and I highly recommend it!”


  • “Jennifer Ryan is a master storyteller. The POVS alternate with each chapter, making this one very hard to put down. The Underground Library is another fantastic addition to the WWII historical fiction genre.”


  • “This is the first book I've read that was written by Jennifer Ryan. It won't be my last. It's the story of 3 women living during the Blitz in London…Each of their stories was interesting and the way Jennifer Ryan interwove them together was masterful.”


  • “What a great read! I do recommend you pick this one up!”


  • “Loved this book! I'd recommend this book to any historical fiction lover or book group. I gave it 5 stars!”

Quotes from the book

“Books are like old friends, telling us great truths, holding our hands through the difficulties, showing us the light and joy at the end of every tunnel.”


“All I need is to be surrounded by the books that I love; They are my friends, my adventures, my happy endings. Why would I need anything else?”


“Libraries aren’t only about books: they’re about people. They’re about human life, how books can mend hearts, comfort wounds, and inspire us. But most of all, books can bring people together. Their ideas and thoughts make us realize that we are not alone, that we are all connected.”


“Every time you put your hand on your hear, you will feel us there.”


“A library is more than just a repository for books. It is a spiritual and intellectual adventure, a place to delve into the rich treasure trove of life.”


“Being in the library reminded her of life’s potential, of who she wanted to be.”


“The familiarity of bookshelves no matter where you are; All those stories to delve into, to lose yourself inside.”


“Books are the only thing that keep me going, a kind of home inside my heart.”

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