Wednesday, February 7, 2024

Book Review: The Women by Kristin Hannah

Pages: 480
Genre: Adult Historical Fiction
Pub. Date: February 6, 2024
Publisher: St. Martin's
Source: Publisher for review
Other Books By Author: The Four Winds,
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "From the celebrated author of The Nightingale and The Four Winds comes Kristin Hannah's The Women—at once an intimate portrait of coming of age in a dangerous time and an epic tale of a nation divided. Women can be heroes. When twenty-year-old nursing student Frances “Frankie” McGrath hears these words, it is a revelation. Raised in the sun-drenched, idyllic world of Southern California and sheltered by her conservative parents, she has always prided herself on doing the right thing. But in 1965, the world is changing, and she suddenly dares to imagine a different future for herself. When her brother ships out to serve in Vietnam, she joins the Army Nurse Corps and follows his path.  As green and inexperienced as the men sent to Vietnam to fight, Frankie is over- whelmed by the chaos and destruction of war. Each day is a gamble of life and death, hope and betrayal; friendships run deep and can be shattered in an instant. In war, she meets—and becomes one of—the lucky, the brave, the broken, and the lost.  But war is just the beginning for Frankie and her veteran friends. The real battle lies in coming home to a changed and divided America, to angry protesters, and to a country that wants to forget Vietnam.  The Women is the story of one woman gone to war, but it shines a light on all women who put themselves in harm’s way and whose sacrifice and commitment to their country has too often been forgotten. A novel about deep friendships and bold patriotism, The Women is a richly drawn story with a memorable heroine whose idealism and courage under fire will come to define an era.

Frankie McGrath lives a sheltered life in California until her beloved brother, Finley, enlists in the Vietnam War. Her family finds out he was killed in action, and this inspires Frankie to join the Army as a nurse as she went to school for nursing. Even though she is extremely unqualified as a combat nurse, the Army takes her on as they need volunteers and she joins basic training in 1966. Her world is turned upside down. Once she gets to Vietnam, things are pretty dire and definitely not what she is used to, but she is determined to help. After some time getting acclimated to the filthy conditions, the upsetting injuries, the constant threat of combat, and life in Vietnam, she befriends Ethel and Barb, who are also nurses. Frankie starts to prove herself and eventually gets transferred to Pleiku, which is where the heavy combat is. Frankie learns even more about what it's like to be a surgical nurse and then she runs into Rye Walsh, her brother's friend. Sparks fly between them, but can a wartime romance translate to something real if they make it back home? The Women by Kristin Hannah is a tough historical novel to read as the war was so upsetting, but it's an important story that highlights women's roles during the war, which is oftentimes forgotten.

Frankie is a likable character in The Women and I found myself rooting for her from the start. She enters Vietnam extremely sheltered and by the time she is done, she is a different person. Unfortunately, the war broke her in ways that I'm sure many veterans can relate to. She tried to get acclimated to civilian life, but really struggled with her PTSD, not to mention her upsetting reception once she returned home. After WWII, servicemen were revered, but that wasn't the case after Vietnam. People were protesting the war, they treated her poorly upon her return, and even her parents were cold as they never recovered from Finley's death. The worst part was many people would say to her that women didn't go to Vietnam, even though she told them they did as nurses and she saw upsetting things. Frankie, like many women who served during the Vietnam War, deserves respect and deserves to have their stories told. Even though The Women was hard to read at times, I am glad I did as it's important to remember what many soldiers, including female nurses, sacrificed.

Hannah did such a good job bringing Vietnam to life in The Women. I can't say I've ever read a book that takes place at Vietnam during the war and while I am familiar with the basics of the war, she honed in on all the important parts which in turn made such a memorable tale. More often than not, I had to put the book down to take a break, because it's very heavy at times. Poor Frankie couldn't catch a break and on top of it, Vietnam is a literal nightmare. It made me sad that veterans, especially women, didn't have the support that they needed after the war, and that is another aspect of the story that Hannah did a great job highlighting. My only issue with The Women was the character development. I wish it was a little less surface level and I wish Hannah dug a little deeper for some of the characters; however, I still enjoyed it.

So, are you a fan of Kristin Hannah? Is The Women on your TBR list? Which of Hannah's novels is your favorite? Mine is still The Nightingale; however, The Women and Frankie's story will stay with me for quite some time. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.



  1. I've been a fan of Hannah for a long time - I love her historical fiction novels. The Vietnam War is a time period I also haven't seen a lot of, and its differences from other wars makes it so unique. Glad to hear you enjoyed this one!

    1. Yes! The Vietnam War was definitely a new setting as I really gravitate towards WWII books, so this was very eye-opening. I hope you get to read it soon! Thanks for visiting, Angela!


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