At a time when women rarely dreamed beyond careers as nurses, teachers or secretaries and certainly not as news reporters, a tall, enigmatic redhead arrives in Saigon. She is an object of great interest to the male correspondents, one of whom reports she arrived at Tan Son Nhut Airport wearing "high heeled bikini shoes." Few take her seriously as a reporter. To most, she is a trifle, a bobble, a lagniappe. Angela Martinelli survives a chopper crash, spends several days in the bunkers of the so-called Alamo Hilton during the siege of Khe Sanh, is captured briefly by the Viet Cong while trying to make her own way to the battle of Hue after being refused a hop on a military chopper because she isn't male, and finally is badly wounded when a jeepload of other correspondents are killed in Cholon, the Chinese quarter of Saigon. Her life, loves and struggle to prove herself chronicle the deterioration of the war, the strategic battles around the Tet offensive, and the conflict raging back home over the conduct of the war. Not since Graham Greene has anyone captured so well the tedium and terror of reporting on war.
"The action is riveting and the writing is clear, detailed and highly readable.
An engrossing portrait of a woman among men in wartime." Kirkus
Theasa Tuohy has worked for five daily newspapers and the Associated Press. She is co-book author of Scandalous: The Musical, an award winning show about the life of DH Lawrence, and has written a memoir about renovating her home in France. She is currently working on a mystery set in Paris. She lives in Manhattan.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2.5 stars (Reviewed by my contributing reviewer on the blog) Did I enjoy this book: Well, friends, that's a complicated question. I enjoyed Tuohy's obvious love of language. I especially liked it when her writing was self-aware — when she had a drunk use the word “fomented,” then a few lines later mocked her own (his own?) use of verbiage. I loved how she lured me in with slow, mundane events until I was hooked, then slammed me with the realities of wartime reporting. I loved the parallels between the evolution of Angela, the protagonist, and the grit of the text. I did not, however, like the stereotypes: the female who arrives in a war zone wearing heels and a sundress, the Asian who cannot pronounce “l” or “r” (and is written that way), the lone male reporter with the stunted emotional growth... It seemed as if Tuohy decided to write a book about stereotypes, then got distracted by the story she was telling and had to remind herself to write them in. The blatant “woman out of her element” storyline seemed forced, and a bit too obvious, but once she gave up on the idea of the book and started telling the story, Tuohy delivered. It seemed to me that Tuohy was conflicted; she wanted to write a love story and a non-fiction account of the war, and ended up with an amalgam that was not quite successful at either. Luckily, at least for me, her masterful use of the written word kept me reading to the last page. Would I recommend it: ¿I'm quite certain I'm not the target audience for this book. Perhaps if I was older – if I'd had to face the blatant sexism Tuohy tried to convey – I would connect more. As a woman in her early thirties, though, I found her descriptions at best difficult to relate to and at worst inappropriately comical. I would not recommend this book to my peer group, but perhaps an older generation would appreciate it more than I. Will I read it again: No. (Melissa received a copy of this book for review purposes.)
The sub-title for The Five O'Clock Follies is: What's a Woman Doing Here, Anyway? Well, that was intriguing to me. Theasa Tuohy's book is a "novel of the press in Vietnam." That, also, caught my attention since Vietnam had such an impact on our country. It's already gotten good reviews from well-known authors, as well as Kirkus. Here's my take on it. I liked it. It kept me turning pages. The main character, Angela, arrives in Vietnam, determined to cover the war. She has no paper behind her. But Angela is determined and strong and resourceful. She is also a freelancer who steps into a raging war where the male reporters are not exactly happy about her arrival. What, for me, made this such a good book is that the author, Tuohy, focuses on the people, not the war, although the war rages and motivates the characters. It is the characters who carry the story. Their dedication to covering the truth, their emotions and feelings, their decisions and determination. There's even room for a bit of romance in the midst of war. The author, Theasa Tuohy, has worked for the Associated Press, as well as five daily newspapers. She is able to bring the war to the reader's doorstep. The Vietnam war is no longer history. There are scenes that will stick with you, whether you want them to or not. But it's not all war. When not out in the war zone, reporters have down time -- and Tuohy includes those scenes as well. We come to know the characters. They come to life in our heads. They stick with you after you put the book down. The book also includes some pictures from the Vietnam war. The Five O'Clock Follies is based on reality but it is fiction with legs. It'll keep you running from one page to the next. Amazon Barnes and Noble Books a Million I give The Five O'Clock Follies a rating of Hel-of-a-Time.