Author: Kristin Hannah
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Genre: Women's Fiction
Format: Audio and Kindle ARCs
No. of Pages: 480
Date of Publication: February 6, 2024
My Rating: 5 Stars
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.
“Women can be heroes.”
Marriage and motherhood. That was what was expected of women. Trained "to iron buttonholes to perfection, how to precisely fold a napkin, how to set an elegant table."
“No fear, McGrath.”
“There were no women in Vietnam.”
Francis “Frankie” McGrath was very close to her brother Finley. He went away to war in Vietnam. She wanted to serve alongside him the best way she could. She joined the Army as a nurse and became a 2nd Lieutenant in the Army Nurse Corps. However, before she was sent to serve, her family received tragic news of Finley's death. Even though she wanted to change her mind, she had no choice but to go. So, Frankie takes on her commission.
Even before the news of Finley's death, Frankie's parents were not happy with her decision. In fact, her mother rebuked her. However, Frankie did go, and during those last years of the Vietnam War, Frankie gave everything she had. She not only tended to soldiers, but to the many who were orphaned during the war. But, that is only the first half of this stellar book…
This compelling read opened my eyes about the women that served during the Vietnam War. It was impossible not to relate to Frankie’s strength, vigor and sorrow. PTSD was real for those Vietnam Veterans, and Frankie was a perfect example of this.
On a personal note, I remember when my grandfather returned with the POWs held and tortured for years. He lived with us upon his return to the US and while in the eighth grade, I was able to do a current events based on his tragic experiences. It was because of these memories of my grandfather that I felt a very strong connection to this book.
Frankie’s experiences, while dealing with PTSD, but not recognized for her honorable service, were utterly heartbreaking and I was brought to tears more than once in this amazing book by Kristin Hannah. Her struggles grew day after day as she tried to adjust to civilian life. Addiction became her crutch. It was her method of coping, as she struggled to gain footing as her life went on. However, as a pillar of strength, Frankie truly impressed me, from the beginning of the book, through her challenging struggles, and as her life found fulfillment.
480 pages as an audiobook went in the blink of a eye. One of my favorite narrators, Julia Whelan, did a superb job with this book. Her narration made this winning book that much better. Kristin Hannah’s style of writing will make any reader feel every emotion Frankie feels, and this book made me feel at times that I was living Frankie’s story. Definitely my favorite book of January, and this just might end up my favorite read of 2024.
Many thanks to St. Martin's Press and to NetGalley for this ARC for review. This is my honest opinion.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Kristin Hannah is an award-winning and bestselling author of more than 20 novels including the international blockbuster, The Nightingale, Winter Garden, Night Road, and Firefly Lane.
Her novel, The Nightingale, has been published in 43 languages and is currently in movie production at TriStar Pictures, which also optioned her novel, The Great Alone. Her novel, Home Front has been optioned for film by 1492 Films (produced the Oscar-nominated The Help) with Chris Columbus attached to direct.
Kristin is a former-lawyer-turned writer who lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband. Her novel, Firefly Lane, became a runaway bestseller in 2009, a touchstone novel that brought women together, and The Nightingale, in 2015 was voted a best book of the year by Amazon, Buzzfeed, iTunes, Library Journal, Paste, The Wall Street Journal and The Week. Additionally, the novel won the coveted Goodreads and People’s Choice Awards. The audiobook of The Nightingale won the Audiobook of the Year Award in the fiction category.