Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “When We Caught Fire” as Want to Read:
When We Caught Fire
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

When We Caught Fire

3.12  ·  Rating details ·  747 ratings  ·  150 reviews
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 del ...more
ebook, 400 pages
Published October 2nd 2018 by HarperTeen
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about When We Caught Fire, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
This question contains spoilers… (view spoiler)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.12  · 
Rating details
 ·  747 ratings  ·  150 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of When We Caught Fire
I have so many feelings for this book. I felt so many emotions while reading it. I just want to read it again!!!

Yes, there is a love triangle that is sure to end badly, but the Great Fire brings so many twists and turns in the story that you won’t be able to stop reading it.

Thank you so so much to HarperCollins Canada for my copy of this book❤️
Nadhira Satria
boring as hell
Sarah Mac
I can't lie...the minute I saw Anna Godbersen had released a new historical YA , I ordered a copy. I barely even read the synopsis. Chicago fire! Love triangle! Maid! Boxer! Socialite marriage! All red flags for classic 19th-c soap. 😈

Edith Wharton's influence on the Luxe series is undeniable, but IMO this newest effort pushes that appreciation to the forefront. The Chicago fire provides a tangible threat, esp when combined with certain unnamed parties, but the era itself shares much of the blame
Shannon (It Starts At Midnight)
You can find the full review and all the fancy and/or randomness that accompanies it at It Starts at Midnight

Historical fiction is so fun, is it not? And the Chicago Fire... well, that's intense! This particular book was... less so. Not a bad read, but I suppose a tad underwhelming? It's basically a story of friendships and romantic relationships colliding in a big ol' love triangle that happens to get extra dramatic. One of the girls (Emmeline) is a newly-minted high society girl who's set
Brooke — brooklynnnnereads
2.5 stars

The whole premise and plot of this novel was so entrancing but when it came to the execution, I was disappointed.

The love triangle was not much of a love triangle in my eyes because I didn’t become invested in any of the couples involved. This was mostly due to some of the decisions that were made early in the novel. Some of the decisions and actions from the characters made it hard to believe that it was true love beyond the love of friendship or lust.

Additionally, similarly to that,
I know very little about the Great Chicago Fire, other than the rhyme about Mrs. O'Leary and her cow, and I actually didn't know that this book was about the fire until after I got it from the library! I was just very excited about a book by the author of the Luxe series (I know, she did a series set in the 1920's, and I need to read it, too). I loved the Luxe because it was the equivalent of Gossip Girl but set in the 1890's, and I got really into the characters' lives and their terrible mistak ...more
4.2 Out 5 "Incendiary" STARS

Despite having less than likable characters (with Fiona as the exception) this was still an engrossing listen.  The backdrop of the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 was what made this story stand-out for me.  I could see how others found this to be slow in the beginning, with its soap-opera-like feel and melodrama of the elite high society of the times, but on Audio, those parts fly by fairly quickly.  Once the fire starts burning, the unceasing flames and the lives at stak
mindful.librarian ☀️
Sigh. I was excited for this book based on exactly 2 reasons: my obsession with the Luxe series by Godbersen and the topic of the Chicago Fire. But alas, the overall storyline was not at all cohesive or anything resembling the amazingness of the Luxe books and the fire came way late in the book and was covered almost as separate from the rest of the story. I couldn't buy into ANY of the romance and overall I was just left feeling flat and disappointed that what could have been an amazing book by ...more
Rachel Rockwell
Jul 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Anna Godbersen has done it again!!! I was fully captivated and feeling all kinds of emotions, and maybe I’m biased because I love her work, but she just kills it when it comes to sophisticated writing, vivid details, and of course, historical research.
- ̗̀ amy ̖́-

this would've been so good if it was gay but alas... mind-numbingly Straight...
Christina (Confessions of a Book Addict)
Emmeline's family rose through the ranks and now are in "high society" in Chicago. The year is 1871 and since Emmeline needs a lady's maid, she employs her best friend, Fiona. After all. Fiona's family definitely needs the money. Fiona and Emmeline grew up with Anders, whom both girls still have feelings for. This is problematic as Emmeline is engaged to Freddy, the son of a wealthy banker. Emmeline has it all, but why can't she stop thinking about Anders? Anders isn't in Emmeline's social circl ...more
Madalyn (Novel Ink)
This review originally appeared on Novel Ink.

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

I went into When We Caught Fire with high hopes– I mean, you all know how much I love YA historical fiction by now, right? Plus, I absolutely devoured Anna Godbersen’s previous two series– The Luxe and Bright Young Things– when I was younger, and I was excited to see how her writing held up for me as an adult. However
Sara (A Gingerly Review)
I love this author and was excited for this story but it fell short in every regard. I am not a fan of love triangles anyways. I didn't get Anders, I really could not stand Emmaline, and felt a little bad for Fiona. It was rich privileged people dealing with rich privileged problems.



Full review can be found here:

Before I start my post, I want to take a small moment to admire the cover. It is gorgeous. Beautiful covers make me even more excite
Aug 18, 2018 rated it it was ok
Here is my more generic little blurb/summary about this book I used as my review for the bookstore I got it from, then I'll say a couple words about why I ranked it below. I don't think this is a bad book, it just wasn't good for me.
Lovers of love triangles will enjoy this 1871 historical romance about 3 childhood friends, now the newly wealthy and engaged Emmeline; her best friend Fiona; and Anders, the boy who Emmeline can’t let go of and Fiona secretly longs for. The constant and a littl
Oct 29, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: incomplete
1.5 stars. I read most of this book and I did like it until Anders joined the story, but even then it was almost exactly like dozens of other books I have read set in the 1800's or early 1900's.

I have lived in Chicago my entire life so the story taking place in Chicago really spoke to me. I enjoyed reading all the luxurious details the author included, but could have done without the long winded paragraphs above each chapter.

Emmeline was just like every other rich girl you find in these types o
Eden Church | The Required Reading List
I LOVED this book! Victorian Chicago is so deftly rendered, I felt like I was there—I could see the city as I read, even though I’ve never been to modern-day Chicago, and have certainly never been to Chicago in the 1870s. I burned through this novel with romance that sizzled on every page (pardon the puns). The story of two women, one who fate favoured, the other who fate forgot, this novel delivers friendship dynamics right out of Downton Abbey. Fans of historical fiction, romantic fiction, gla ...more
May 05, 2018 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
Another very good historical fiction/romance novel by Anna Godbersen. It’s set in the days right before and through the aftermath of The Great Chicago Fire of 1871.
Godbersen writes interesting characters and relationships. The plot is nicely paced and, as in The Luxe series, the author uses extensive period research to make important points about social status and economics in 19th century America.
KristynRene The Hype Queen of Books
Edelweiss granted me this ARC in exchange for an honest review. And honest is what I will offer you.

A Very Well Deserving 3/5 Stars

The fire had sometimes leapt over buildings, over whole blocks, leaving safe patches in its wake. But they were not really safe–the fire was often blown back, thus consuming what it had missed the first time.

Anna Godbersen wrote a generally enjoyable story I consumed in less than four days. The synopsis sounds like the classic gag-filled love triangle, but I can assu
SJH (A Dream of Books)
I've only read a few of Anna Godbersen's previous books but this one caught my eye when I discovered that the story was an imagining of events leading up to the Great Fire of Chicago. Although I don't read a huge amount of historical fiction now, this used to be one of my favourite genres so I thought I would give it a try. I read it in one sitting but finished with mixed feelings about it.

Godbersen has crafted a love triangle which takes centre stage in the book. Emmeline, Fiona and Anders are
This was a train wreck.

I don't even want to talk about it. It was just that bad. Honestly, I can't even coherent a review right now but I understand why the overall rating is so low.

Think about these three characters.
Emmeline - spoiled, selfish, abusive, and gets everything she desires.
Fiona - loyal to a fault, is essentially a rug to be stepped on
Anders - a spineless love interest who lets the two other girls fight over him

And then there is the great Chicago fire...started because of a love tri
Joséphine (Word Revel)
Actual rating: 2.5 stars

Initial thoughts:

Some positive points:
+ It's historical fiction, a genre rather overlooked in YA
+ Vivid setting with the Great Chicago Fire as backdrop
+ A father willing to see the error of his ways and who apologises when he is wrong
+ Friends who love each other like sisters
+ Good audiobook narrator

Some neutral points:
+ Love triangle quadrangle (I didn't care for it but you might)
+ Lots of to and fro about marrying for love or status (again, you might care for it more th
Feb 10, 2019 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 21, 2019 rated it did not like it
Shelves: i-tried
DNF @ 27%

"Emmeline looked up.
Ander's put his hand on his hip.
Fiona remembered blank.
They all three felt blank blank blank. "

I can take no more of this. This is all tell and no show. There is higher level more quality YA out there for my time.
It's a shame, because 'this could have really been good', is what I kept thinking every page I read. I came after this book because for writing research purposes I was hunting and looking for an example of this very specific YA trope and lov
Laura (thechronicbookworm)
Trigger Warnings: Physical abuse, death, grief, murder,

When We Caught Fire is a historical fiction novel about a love triangle, during the Great Chicago Fire in 1871. I went into When We Caught Fire expecting to love it. Unfortunately, I didn’t. The writing was engaging, but I felt like I only knew the three main characters at a surface level.

The story follows Emmeline and Fiona’s point of view in alternate chapters. I really liked Fiona’s character, and I would have liked to learn more abo
Nov 08, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I looooved 'The Luxe' series and the 'Bright Young Things' series, and I was so excited for this new read from Godbersen. Beautiful cover, although I am not a big fan of the pink hardcover underneath.
The love triangle was weird, and I'm saying that as a person who enjoyed Twilight back in the day. I absolutely HATED Emmeline and thought she was such a wishy-washy girl and not too flushed out without any other characters backing her up. Fiona was pretty bad ass, and I enjoyed her and was rooting
Nov 09, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: teen
It took me a little while to warm up to this. I don't particularly care for Emmeline, and Fiona was a bit of a mystery. But the description of the fire and being caught in it was mesmerizing. A life time resident of Illinois, I remember the shadow box representation of that barn at the Illinois State Museum when I was a little girl. I suppose I had never given much thought to the devastation that must have occurred, the lives lost and the families devastated. A good story about the event.
Feb 06, 2019 rated it it was ok
I was not impressed by this, and the only reason I didn't DNF it was it was on audiobook and I had a vain hope that when the fire actually started it would get interesting. It didn't.
2 main POV characters were immature but doing adult things, the love triangle was just so unnecessary.
It's a shame because I really liked the Luxe series by the same author, but the other books I've read have been disappointing.
Sep 20, 2019 rated it liked it
I've never been fond of love triangles, and although this one stirs things up a bit by having two girls after the same boy, it hasn't changed my mind. The boy in question has pledged to one girl and kissed the other, and at more than 150 pages in that's as far as it's gotten.

The historical detail is amazing, there's obviously a lot of research gone into it. If you like love triangles, this is definitely a good one for you. It's just not for me. DNF.
Oct 19, 2018 rated it it was ok
I started reading this hoping it would be a good guilty pleasure read, like The Luxe series that Godbersen wrote before, but it wasn't nearly as fun to read as those books. I still need to read her 1920s series, which maybe I will get into at the end of this year.
« previous 1 3 4 5 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Last Best Story
  • An Affair of Poisons
  • Broken Things
  • A Dress for the Wicked
  • Storm from the East (Glass Alliance, #2)
  • Stolen Time (Dark Stars, #1)
  • Dark of the West (Glass Alliance, #1)
  • Loveboat, Taipei (Loveboat, Taipei, #1)
  • A Flicker in the Clarity
  • Damsel
  • The Downstairs Girl
  • Girl, Unframed
  • All That Glitters (Enchantée, #1)
  • Give the Dark My Love (Give the Dark My Love, #1)
  • That Night
  • Serious Moonlight
  • The War Outside
  • Little White Lies (Debutantes, #1)
See similar books…
Anna Godbersen was born in Berkeley, California, and educated at Barnard College. She currently lives in Brooklyn with her husband.

Related Articles

Magic and myth, getting real and standing up for what’s right, love and longing, growing up and falling in love. Get ready for some of the best...
68 likes · 17 comments