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  • Writer's pictureJudith D Collins

When We Were Enemies

Narrators: Carlotta Brentan,

Eva Kaminsky

Brilliance Audio

ISBN: 9781662509889

Publisher: Lake Union Publishing

Publication Date: 12/01/2023

Format: Audio/e-book

My Rating: 4 Stars

Two women, generations apart, in the spotlight. A powerful novel about family secrets, devastating choices, and hope for the future by the bestselling author of When I’m Gone.

Camera-shy Elise Branson is different from the other women in her maternal line. 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 neither can her grandmother, even in death.

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 that is 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.

My Review

Emily Bleeker's latest is a compelling and gripping historical fiction novel, WHEN WE WERE ENEMIES — featuring two women, generations apart, their family secrets, and the choices they make.

Elise Branson's mother, Gracelyn Branson, is an award-winning actress. Her late grandmother, Vivian Snow, is a Hollywood icon.

When Elise's upcoming wedding coincides with a documentary about Vivian, she is in the spotlight— a place she is uncomfortable with.

Alternating timelines, flashing back to 1943, we meet Vivian, a small-town Indiana girl during the war. She was a translator in the nearby Italian POW camp. In addition, a celebrated singer for the USO, the men loved her, and she fell in love with a soldier.

But there is a shocking secret that Vivian needs to keep hidden to achieve the fame she desires.

When the past collides with the present (Elise/Vivian), secrets are exposed and lives to unravel, forcing difficult choices that may change them both forever.

Told from the POV of the grandmother, Vivian, and granddaughter, Elise, from WWII to the present day, a moving story of family, history, and difficult life choices.

The two parallel storylines keep you glued to the pages! WHEN WE WERE ENEMIES is a story of family dynamics, secrets, love, loss, romance, jealousy, racism, and self-discovery. It is a slow-burn, intriguing, well-written tale spanning two generations and two cultures.

The audiobook was narrated by Carlotta Brentan and Eva Kaminsky for a captivating listen/read.

@JudithDCollins | #JDCMustReadBooks

Pub Date: Dec 1, 2023

My Rating: 4 Stars

From the Publisher

For fans of Kristin Hannah and Taylor Jenkins Reid, bestselling author Emily Bleeker has written an absorbing, emotional, heartfelt historical novel—an exciting new genre for her! A dual-timeline World War II story, but with a unique Italian twist, this book just pulled me in and wouldn’t let go.

Elise, the granddaughter of Hollywood icon Vivian Snow, is brought deep into her grandmother’s past through the making of a documentary about Vivian’s life in her hometown of Edinburgh, Indiana, where in the 1940s Vivian made her debut as a performer at an Italian POW camp. Life-altering family secrets from the past are revealed, but in the present day, Elise finds the clarity she needs to make bold choices in life and in love. Focused on the war effort on American soil and following the life of a Hollywood star and her granddaughter, this all-American novel is packed with heart-wrenching drama and heart-stirring romance.

I found myself rooting for both Elise and Vivian in their separate timelines, totally swept away by so many aspects of this story: the romance, the coming-of-age elements, the secrets, and the drama. Prepare to be unable to put this book down or forget it anytime soon!

—Melissa Valentine, Editor


“As a novelist, Emily Bleeker has a genuinely impressive, narrative driven, and distinctive storytelling style that fully engages her readers from first page to last. Her latest novel, When We Were Enemies will have a special appeal to readers with in interest in comparative generational historical fiction at its very best. A memorable read throughout, When We Were Enemies is a highly recommended pick…”

―Midwest Book Review

About the Author

Emily Bleeker is the bestselling author of six novels. Combined, her books have reached more than two million readers. She is a two-time Whitney Award finalist as well as an Amazon Charts and Wall Street Journal bestseller. Emily lives in the northern suburbs of Chicago with her husband, their kids, and her kitten/muse―Hazel. Between writing and being a mom, she performs with a local improv troupe, sings karaoke like no one is watching, and embraces her newfound addiction to running. Connect with her or request a Zoom visit with your book club at







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