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Review: The Women by Kristin Hannah

Title: The Women

Author: Kristin Hannah
Year published: 2024
Category: Adult fiction (historical)
Pages: 480 pages
Rating: 5 out of 5

Location: (my 2024 Google Reading map)USA (CA, Washington, DC, MT, VA) and Vietnam

SummaryWomen 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 overwhelmed 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. Making this novel have a big impact are all the political, cultural, and music references from the '60s and early 70s. I love that!

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.

Review: I am a Kristin Hannah fan. At least of her more recents works (links to my reviews: The Nightingale, Four Winds, The Great Alone, Firefly Lane). Kristin Hannah is like Lisa See: she writes such a great story. I was pulled in from page one and when Frankie got to Vietnam and saw the horrors first hand I felt her shock and the power of war.

This novel is amazing. The descriptions of war, of what it was like to come home from Vietnam (and to be treated so horribly, to be denied their experiences), of the difficulties in recovery are all raw and impressive. Throughout the book I thought of my friends who served in various branches of the military, some of whom experienced war time. And one in particular who was a Navy doctor during the Persian Gulf War. I cannot imagine what their experiences were like and I am sure that the memories linger for them.

There are many novels and movies about Vietnam, but I think you'll find that this one has new stories to tell. Stories of the women who served, loved, fought (not in combat, but as nurses), and survived. I highly recommend reading this novel.

Challenges for which this counts: 
  • Literary Escapes--Vietnam, Montana, Virginia

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