Cover Image: When We Were Enemies

When We Were Enemies

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Member Reviews

I really enjoyed this book. It was different than anything else I've read recently. I couldn't put it down! I will keep an eye out for this author's future work!

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Camera-shy Elise Branson is different from the other women in her matriline. Her mother is an award-winning actress. Her late grandmother, Vivian Snow, is a beloved Hollywood icon. But when Elise’s upcoming wedding coincides with a documentary being made about Vivian, Elise can’t escape the camera’s gaze. And even in death, neither can her grandmother.

It’s 1943 when Vivian, a small-town Indiana girl, lends her home front support to the war effort. As a translator in the nearby Italian POW camp, she’s invaluable. As a celebrated singer for the USO, she lifts men’s spirits and falls in love with a soldier. But behind this all-American love story is a shocking secret—one vital to keep buried if Vivian is to achieve the fame and fortune she covets.

For Elise and Vivian, what’s hidden—and what’s exposed—threatens to unravel their lives. The heart-wrenching choices they must make will change them both forever.

I really enjoyed this story.

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Loved it. The story goes from present to past to weave together a full picture. There is a component of history in this book as well.

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Thanks to NetGalley and Lake Union Publishing for access to this title. All opinions expressed are my own.

A dual narrative time story following Vivian, in the 1940's and Elise, her granddaughter in the present day who find both of their lives take a turning point in small town Indiana. For Elise, it is to trace her grandmother's story with documentary filmmaker while planning her upcoming wedding. For Vivian, it's how her work as a translator at a P.O.W camp paved the way for a life in Hollywood.

If a dual narrative features a protagonist tracking down secrets hidden from the past, I am going to grab that book! In this novel, I was very intrigued to find out what secrets lay in Vivian's past and wondered how that would shape Elise's future. Both women had complicated love lives that just seemed to get even more chaotic when romance flies from an unexpected corner.

Emily Bleeker truly delivers some dramatic moments in both storylines and some of them did feel a little cliché( Tom and Vivian, Hunter and Elise). I have read a few reviews that stated they didn't like the documentary aspect and star power of Elise's mother, Grace. I liked the characters of Max and Grace. Lastly, I appreciated the research that the author did regarding life in the Italian P.O.W camp and what the nightlife was like at the USO.

Although I much prefer her suspense thrillers, I enjoyed this addition to WWII historical fiction.

Publication Date 01/12/23
Goodreads Review 31/01/24

#WhenWeWereEnemies #NetGalley.

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A dual timeline story following Vivian and Elise, who are related. Fascinating from the beginning. Excellent job with the dual timeline and character development. Vivian is second generation Italian and takes a job at Camp Atterbury. I learned quite a bit about this Camp, close to my home. It housed Italian and German POW’s during WWII. It also held USO functions as it does today. It also talks about housing close to 5,000 refugees from Afghanistan recently. The history was quite interesting. Elise is getting married in modern times and coerced into marrying at the chapel in Camp Atterbury built by the Italians POWS. This book gave a glimpse into the lives of these Italian POW’s at this Camp. Vivian and Elise have much in common with family life and romance, both have bumpy roads. This was a new author for me and I look forward to more of her books. I received an advance review copy for free, and I am voluntarily leaving my review.

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Told from two different time periods, this novel follows a few months in the lives of Vivian in 1943 and her granddaughter Elise in 2023. I didn't particularly like either of the women and, although they were intended to be portrayed as strong, independent women, in reality they came across as people pleasers who did what was asked of them without much pushback.

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The best historical fiction completely immerses you in the story, and this book did just that. This story follows the lead character as her life parallels her grandmother's unexpectedly.

I could not put this one down! I highly recommend this to all my fellow historical fiction lovers.

Thank you to Lake Union Publishing and Netgalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

4.5 stars

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I purchased this book since I accidently archived, and it was a great historical fiction read. I have never read about Italian POW camps before, so it was an interesting perspective on WWII.

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Many thanks to NetGalley and Lake Union Publishing for this Advanced Reader Copy in exchange for my honest review.

There is a lot of drama in this book! I was entertained, but felt like every chance/plot device was taken to shake things up (ie TV documentary filming, rushed marriage, uncomfortable Mom/daughter dynamics, forbidden feelings/flirtation with a priest, paternity DNA testing, physicality/ fist fighting, murder…). It’s a lot.

It was easy to follow the story as it jumped forward and backward in time, but I didn’t really feel endeared to any of the characters and wished the female lead Elise would have stood up for herself more. Ending tied together nicely.

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Bleeker connects a grandmother’ s and her granddaughter’s stories through flashbacks in the same setting, a small town in middle A,Erica where an army camp resided during WWII.
I liked the Indiana setting since I’m a lifelong midwesterner.
I thought Mac and Hunter were fiends and were stinky from the first. I didn’t have much use for Elise’s mother either since she was more focused in her own selfish gains no matter if it hurt her daughter.
Love is possible even if it means one of the partners has to become defrocked.

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I got the opportunity to read this book through NetGalley Advanced Reader Copy.

I love how this story unfolds with the narrators of Elise and Vivian sharing their parallel experience decades apart. I love to getting to hear some of the stories about the POW in America that I knew little of. This book was hard to put down.

I highly recommend to those that enjoy historical fiction.

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This was a great read. It is told in 2 timelines, current day and WWII era. I live near the Indiana locations in the story and loved reading the history of the area during the WWII days. Like others, I thought parts of this were a little slow and then it really picked up near the end and was then finished. Overall, a great story though.

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While scrolling to choose my next book, this cover & title immediately caught my eye. I was fully engrossed from Chapter 1. If you enjoy historical fiction or a slow burn, add this to your TBR now.

When We Were Enemies is a historical fiction novel based in a small town in Indiana. It’s a dual POV set during the Grandmother’s life in 1943 as a translator at a POW camp & her granddaughter’s present day life while participating in a documentary about her Grandmother’s iconic history. This compelling, generational storyline reveals striking parallels, family secrets, & devastating choices. This book was so eloquently written with family drama & historical detail, I could not put it down.

Elise desired to stay out of the limelight while her Mother & Grandmother thrived as Hollywood stars. As a recently engaged woman & PR powerhouse, she reluctantly agrees to participate in a documentary that captures her Grandmother’s life while coinciding with her upcoming wedding. She soon realizes that her Grandmother may have possessed secrets that will unravel their life forever & that she, herself, may be more like her Grandmother than she ever believed.

Vivian was a small town girl that longed to be under the big, bright lights. But she also felt a strong pull to contribute to her family’s struggles & make her Papa proud. All the while, she enjoyed assisting with the war effort at home while concurrently doing what she loved most, performing. She finds herself falling in love, but nothing is as it appears.

@emilybleekerauthor did such a wonderful job of combining these women’s stories. I was always needing more! I finished one woman’s chapter to go onto the other woman’s chapter in order to seek the answers I needed. But I only became more engrossed in each previous chapter to continue to devour the book!

I was so impressed when the book concluded to learn about Emily’s research journey. I enjoyed the many historical facts throughout the story based on her detailed research. I look forward to reading more from Emily in the future.

Thank you to NetGalley & Lake Union Publishing for an e-copy of this book.

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I received a complimentary copy of this book "When We Were Enemies" and all opinions expressed are my own. I was a bit bored reading this. It was slow going and the characters didn't interest me. Overall okay.

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My rating:

Plot: 4 out of 5 stars
Writing: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Character development: 3 out of 5 stars
Overall: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Recommended for readers of:

Historical Fiction


I was attracted to this book because the story is told over a dual time line. Following the life of the grandmother in the past and the granddaughters life in the presents, while she tries to uncover what happened in her grandmother’s early life during WWII during the time she worked in a prisoner of war internment camp.

The Characters are interesting, although I would have enjoyed if the story surrounding the grandmother was told with a bit more detail. The family dynamics and the similarities between the two main characters was made the book most appealing..

The book started of a little bit slow and it took a while to get into it but once I did flowed well and was interesting and held me captivated till the end.
Review copy provided by Netgalley at no cost to me

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This was a 2-star read for me; perhaps being from the Midwest I wasn't grasped by the setting in IN from the outset. The premise of a multi-generational movie star/entertaining family seemed cheap and the mother in the story was extremely unlikeable. I liked the grandmother, Viv, the most of any of the three generations of women but her quick affair/relationship with Tom seemed forced but not hardly as much as her lightning speed enthrallment with the Italian priest/POW. Then, after much of the book spent doing not much of anything, everything happens at once (in the 1940s storyline and in the current day story). The grandmother's situation explodes and is explained and Elise's contemporary relationships resolve themselves with speed. The last 1/4 of the book held my attention and made me vacillate between 2 and 3 stars, but ultimately the entire package only warrants 2-stars for me.

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WHEN WE WERE ENEMIES is a wonderful book about 2 generations a grandmother and a granddaughter living parallel lives. There are so many books about WWII, but this is the first that I have read that takes place in America. As an Italian, I loved that the main characters were Italian. I love that there were so many Italian words and phrases included in the book. The book was
I disliked Grace, Hunter, and Mac very much. I can not believe all the shit they put Elise through, especially her mother. She was a shit show trapped between two generations of great women. I absolutely hated Tom Highward and liked how his story went into the book. The end of both storylines left me wanting more. They were somewhat wrapped up to show that there most likely won't be a second book, but the author did well at leaving you wanting more.
This is the first time I have read an Emily Bleeker novel, and I am so glad that I did.

Thank you, NetGalley, Lake Union Publishing, and Emily Bleeker, for the opportunity to read this digital ARC for my honest review.

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"I should've known better, I've lived and worked long enough in entertainment to know that everything around me is a mirage." As the daughter of famous actress Gracelyn Branson and the granddaughter of the late Hollywood icon Vivian Snow, Elise Branson's life has always been lived in the spotlight. Instead of choosing to go into acting, she starts her own successful public relations firm. She's engaged to be married to wealthy, handsome businessman Hunter Garrot when her mother's boyfriend Mac asks her to be part of a documentary about Vivian. Filming the documentary begins to uncover deep family secrets. The story is told in a dual timeline and the alternating points of view of Elise and Vivian. This was my first Emily Bleeker book, I really enjoyed it and look forward to reading more of her books. Thanks to #netgalley #lakeunionpublishing and #emilybleeker for this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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I have read Emily Bleeker in the past and enjoyed her books. This one is no different. It did take me a bit to get into but settled in quickly enough and enjoyed it.

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Thank you to Netgalley, the publisher and the author, for an ARC of this book, in exchange for an honest review.
"When We Were Enemies" by Emily Bleeker was an addictive & interesting story that pulled me in right away & didn't let me go until its final page.
I enjoyed the characters, storyline & the author's writing style.
I liked how the author told the story by alternating between Elise in the present & Vivian in the 1940's.
I would definitely read another book by Ms. Bleeker.

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