The Bermondsey Bookshop by Mary Gibson

A captivating story of a young woman growing in poverty in London, and the tale of how her life changed dramatically.

Book Synopsis

Set in 1920s London, this is the inspiring story of Kate Goss’s struggle against poverty, hunger and cruel family secrets.

Her mother died in a fall, her father has vanished without trace, and now her aunt and cousins treat her viciously. In a freezing, vermin-infested garret, factory girl Kate has only her own brave spirit and dreams of finding her father to keep her going. She has barely enough money to feed herself, or to pay the rent. The factory where she works begins to lay off people and it isn’t long before she has fallen into the hands of the violent local money-lender. That is until an unexpected opportunity comes her way – a job cleaning a most unusual bookshop, where anyone, from factory workers to dockers, can learn to read and then buy books cheaply. A new world opens up, but with it come new dangers, too. Based on the true story of the Bermondsey Bookshop, this is the most inspiring and gripping novel Mary Gibson has yet written.


I wasn’t sure what to expect with this novel. Even though the synopsis was detailed, I found myself surprised by how gritty this book was. The main character Kate has some endearing qualities, such as her need to help those who are in distress.

It was an eye opening read for me, Gibson really gives you a visual on what Bermondsey might have looked like in the 1920’s. Along with the poverty distinction and the class biased that plagued that time.

The storyline was well paced, but didn’t suck me in completely. Maybe because I have been ruined by historical fiction, I was wanting a little more romance. However, in the end I found the whole book really enjoyable.

I would recommend to anyone who wants a well written intriguing story, set in London and of course a very interesting protagonist.

Rating: 4/5

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