The War Librarian

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Pub Date 09 Aug 2022 | Archive Date 09 Aug 2022
PENGUIN GROUP Putnam, G.P. Putnam's Sons

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The Paris Library meets The Flight Girls in this captivating historical novel about the sacrifice and courage necessary to live a life of honor, inspired by the first female volunteer librarians during World War I and the first women accepted into the U.S. Naval Academy.

Two women. One secret. A truth worth fighting for.

1918. Timid and shy Emmaline Balakin lives more in books than her own life. That is, until an envelope crosses her desk at the Dead Letter Office bearing a name from her past, and Emmaline decides to finally embark on an adventure of her own—as a volunteer librarian on the frontlines in France. But when a romance blooms as she secretly participates in a book club for censored books, Emmaline will need to find more courage within herself than she ever thought possible in order to survive. 

1976. Kathleen Carre is eager to prove to herself and to her nana that she deserves her acceptance into the first coed class at the United States Naval Academy. But not everyone wants female midshipmen at the Academy, and after tragedy strikes close to home, Kathleen becomes a target. To protect herself, Kathleen must learn to trust others even as she discovers a secret that could be her undoing.
The Paris Library meets The Flight Girls in this captivating historical novel about the sacrifice and courage necessary to live a life of honor, inspired by the first female volunteer librarians...

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ISBN 9780593328064
PRICE $17.00 (USD)

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Average rating from 225 members

Featured Reviews

A heartwarming story amidst the chaos and catastrophes of WWII, set against the angst of women’s struggles for equality. The dual timeline gives little glimpses of future events without spoiling the read. The importance of this book lies in its reminder that history matters and family legacy should not be ignored. It is our past, the roads taken or not taken, and the people that come into and out of our lives that create our stories. Highly recommended.

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I hope Addison Armstrong continues writing historical fiction. I enjoyed reading this as much as I did The Light of Luna Park. The dual timeline (WWI and the first female Naval Academy plebes), the interesting characters with complex back stories, and the unexpected twists all made for a riveting read.

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The War Librarian was a big hit for me. I really enjoy historical fiction with dual timelines and the characters were great.
Emmaline is a librarian during WW1 and Kathleen is one of the first women to be admitted to the Naval Academy in 1976.
I enjoyed this story of women trying to fit into a male dominated world.
Thank you NetGalley and Putnam Books for the e version ARC. I loved it and would highly recommend.

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The War Librarian works well as a way to emphasize both the power of books and words and the importance of books and words in our lives. Addison Armstrong's book has dual time settings. One time line of The War Librarian is situated in fall 1918, close to the end of the Great War. The second timeline is 1976, with the first class of women to be admitted to the Naval Academy.

Armstrong creates complex characters, rich in dimension and history. Readers learn about the horror of the war and the bias and discrimination that black soldiers faced, even while wounded and hospitalized. Readers also learn about the discrimination and hatred directed at women plebes when the Naval Academy was forced to admit women. These characters are carefully defined and interesting in their own right. This history of the war librarians, who worked to help wounded men heal emotionally, even as they healed from the wounds of battle, is a captivating section in this historical novel. Most readers will not likely know that there were librarians in WWI hospitals in France and that these librarians distributed huge numbers of books and magazines, which had been shipped to France and Belgium during the war. There are likely no surprises in the 1976 timeline, given how women were not welcomed at the Naval Academy by many of the men admitted. That 1976 history is recent enough that many readers already know it.

The meaning of the title, The War Librarian, is not fully revealed until the end of the novel, which also ties together both timelines. I want to thank both the author and publisher for providing this ARC for me to read and review. My comments above are my honest opinion. This book was interesting, enthralling, and an important read. Thank you also to NetGalley for introducing me to yet another new author.

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An inspiring read covering women who stand on the right side of history. An engaging read with outstanding female friendships and powerhouse women. The two timelines were interwoven perfectly, I was engaged the entire time.

Absolutely adored this story and have already been boasting about it to other historical fiction lovers.

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