Review: The Women - Vilma Iris | Lifestyle Blogger

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.

Book Type:

Historical Fiction

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Review: The Women
By Kristin Hannah

Review: The Women

Through the lens of one woman’s story, Kristin Hannah underscores the impact of women during Vietnam.

We meet Francis “Frankie” McGrath in 1966 during the farewell party for her older brother Finley, who is to serve in Vietnam. Shortly after, rejecting the traditional plans of her conservative parents and imagining a different future for herself, she enlists in the Army Nurse Corp and follows her brother to war.

Immediately, Frankie’s life is thrust into a reality painted by the chaos of war, the incessant din of gunfire, and the blood-drenched, endless hospital shifts that eventually shape her into a skilled surgery nurse.

While in Vietnam, Frankie falls in love, faces the devastation of loss and heart break, forges lifelong friendships, and reshapes her world and place in it as a result.

The second part of the novel shakes the ground beneath her once again, as she returns to a country divided and a life markedly different. There is no gratitude for her service, no real belief that she—along with other women—were even there. And while the world is intent to dismiss Vietnam, Frankie, like so many others, finds herself utterly broken and lost.

Through Frankie’s story, Hannah takes us on an extraordinary journey that’s deeply evocative and sobering—one that explores everything from the massive loss of life (on both sides) in Vietnam, to the political division the war engendered, to both the physical and psychological scars Veterans struggled with upon their return to a country defined by protest and a hostile dismissal of their sacrifice.

Through rich details and cultural signposts, Frankie’s story felt intimate, transportive, and all consuming. I couldn’t put it down, even as tears streamed down my face in parts particularly difficult to read.

There are so many reasons I have loved this, and all the Kristin Hannah books I’ve devoured. One of those reasons is that her stories stay with me long after I’m done. They’re steeped in compelling histories I yearn to learn more about, and I always spiral into them in the aftermath of reading.

I can’t recommend this book enough. I listened to the audio version (narrated by Julia Whalen) and it’s amazing.

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