The Women by Kristin Hannah follows Frances “Frankie” McGrath from her peaceful home town on Coronado Island to war torn Vietnam in the 1960s. After Frankie’s brother Finley enlists in the Air Force and is sent off to Vietnam, Frankie decides to join the Army Nurse Corps. With very little training she is sent straight into destruction and chaos where she meets Barb, Ethel, & Jamie who become her best friends, coaches, confidants and so much more. Frankie does 2 tours in Vietnam where she makes friends, falls in love and sees the best and worst of humanity. She is then sent home to a thankless country full of angry and confused civilians who call her ‘baby killer’ and blame the soldiers for the mistake that is the Vietnam War. Frankie must now find a way to adjust to life after war, in a world where no one wants to remember the missing, the forgotten, the brave… The Women.
I’ve come to expect nothing but excellence from KH and with this latest novel, she did not disappoint. ‘The Women’ is just as heart wrenching & enveloping as ‘Home Front’, and as immersive and emotional as ‘The Nightingale’. The emotion is so raw and powerful. I was right there with Frankie, every step of the way, feeling everything she felt, completely immersed and totally loving it. This is the first novel I have read about the Vietnam War and there is so much I just did not know. I am inspired to educate myself further and will absolutely be checking out the suggested reading material in the Authors Note. As always the novel is focused on a FMC, however KH did a fantastic job of including the fellas as well. I love how the people she consulted with prior to publishing encouraged her to change the originally chosen fictional locations to real ones that were actually part of the war. My favorite part of the story is the inclusion of parts of her own life she experienced, for example how Frankie always kept the bracelet of her fallen POW as a reflection of Kristin’s own bracelet she received in middle school. I also enjoyed the relationships Frankie cultivated throughout the story, and how each one played a significant part of who Frankie became, the good and the bad. The way Kristin emphasizes the struggles that women went through back in the 60’s is wildly comparative to what we still experience today in 2023. We’ve come so far, yet we haven’t. Finally, the end was so unexpectedly beautiful. I knew there had to be more to that one part of the story but I must admit I did not see that coming! It was brilliant!
<!> An enormous Thank You to NetGalley, Kristin Hannah, and St. Martin’s Press for allowing me the opportunity to read this title in exchange for my honest review. <!>