Book Review: When We Caught Fire by Anna Godbersen

At the Frenzy Presents event organised by Harper Collins Canada for bloggers, I received an ARC of the book When We Caught Fire by Anna Godbersen. I always enjoy historical fiction, and the touch of romance was an added bonus.

Genre: Historical Fiction, Young Adult, Romance


It’s 1871 and Emmeline Carter is poised to take Chicago’s high society by storm. Between her father’s sudden rise to wealth, and her recent engagement to Chicago’s most eligible bachelor, Emmeline has it all. But she can’t stop thinking about the life she left behind, including her childhood sweetheart, Anders Magnuson. Fiona Byrne, Emmeline’s childhood best friend, is delighted by her friend’s sudden rise to prominence, especially since it means Fiona is free to pursue Anders herself. But when Emmeline risks everything for one final fling with Anders, Fiona feels completely betrayed.

As the summer turns to fall, the city is at a tipping point: friendships are tested, hearts are broken, and the tiniest spark might set everything ablaze. Sweeping, soapy, and romantic, this is a story about an epic love triangle—one that will literally set the city ablaze, and change the lives of three childhood friends forever.

My thoughts:

The historical aspects of this novel interested me – Chicago’s Great Fire and the possible causes of it. The fire raged over a number of days, killing people and leaving many homeless. The reference to this event in Godbersen’s novel, however, is minimal which, for me, was disappointing. The novel instead centres on the love triangle between three friends since childhood: Emmeline, Fiona, and Anders. There were some moments during the novel, especially in the beginning, when my attention wandered from their story. The description of their relationship was a little too repetitive and, at these moments, I wished for the novel to move forward.

The story did become more interesting to me when the historical aspect of the novel was introduced. The Fire changes the relationship between the three – and also helps the women (Emmeline and Fiona) realise a little about who they are and what their own relationship with one another means to them. I enjoyed the second half of the novel more than I did the first -it was definitely the saving grace of the book for me.

This novel was written for those who enjoy romance stories – more so than for those who enjoy historical fiction. As a Young Adult fiction novel, the sexual relationship described is not explicit and focuses instead on the feelings of the two women in the love triangle.

I give this novel ⭐⭐⭐ 3 stars.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2018

(This novel was the 70th in my 50 book pledge for 2018)

5 thoughts on “Book Review: When We Caught Fire by Anna Godbersen

Share what you think

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.