Title: When We Caught Fire
Author: Anna Godbersen
Genre: Historical Fiction
About the book: It’s a novel about three best friends and the Chicago Fire.
I received an advanced reader’s edition from HarperCollins Canada.
First impressions: I didn’t know much about the fire prior to reading the novel, but I am a fan of historical fiction. So the concept of a story in 1871 intrigued me.
The cover is colourful, and I like the title too.
Characters: Emmeline, Fiona, and Anders are best friends. They love each other in different ways. Each character has secrets as well as shortcomings. They grew on me.
“When you know for sure what is good and right, what is true for you, you must act on that, and not convince yourself of something else.”
Writing: While I don’t typically enjoy love triangles, I liked the trope in this book. At times, I could predict where Godbersen was going plot-wise, and I looked forward to seeing the relationships develop.
I think the author blends history with fiction well. The epigraphs at the beginning of every chapter is a nice touch because readers get to hear from other voices.
Final thoughts: I wasn’t sure how the book would end exactly. So much happens in the last 100 pages. The ending threw me for a loop, but I loved it.
Godbersen also provides some historical context at the end of her book. A part of me wishes I went in with more knowledge of the fire in Chicago, but now I want to learn more.
I recommend When We Caught Fire, especially if you’re into history and romance. It’s not your traditional historical fiction novel though. Although romantic novels aren’t really my thing, the author created likeable characters with complex relationships.
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