"Hannah again shines her light on overlooked women in history" —People Magazine (Book of the Week)
"Hannah is in top form here... Hannah’s real superpower is her ability to hook you along from catastrophe to catastrophe, sometimes peering between your fingers, because you simply cannot give up on her characters. She gathers women into the (Vietnam) experience with moving conviction." —The New York Times
“The Women is historical fiction at its very best. So moving, so wrenching, and yet, in the end, uplifting. Brava! I loved The Nightingale and The Four Winds, but The Women is my favorite.” —Nicholas D. Kristof, Pulitzer Prize–winning coauthor of Half the Sky
“One of the greatest storytellers of our time, Kristin Hannah, tackles one of the most cruel and despicable wars of the last century, the Vietnam War. The Women reveals the powerful contributions and horrific sacrifices of the American military nurses who served in a war whose agencies refused to acknowledge that they were even there. Perhaps no words can bring closure to a nation still ashamed of booing our returning heroes, but the heroine, Frances McGrath, stirs a deep, overdue compassion and tears for every single soldier—and especially the forgotten women who sacrificed so much. Never has a novel of war metamorphosed so profoundly into a story of the human heart.” —Delia Owens, author of Where the Crawdads Sing
“Stuns with sacrifice; uplifts with heroism . . . an important, long overdue tribute to the brave women nurses who served in Vietnam.” —Bonnie Garmus, author of Lessons in Chemistry
"Hannah’s emotionally charged page-turner (after The Four Winds) centers on a young nurse whose life is changed by the Vietnam War. Before Frankie McGrath begins basic training for the Army in 1966, her older brother Finley is killed in action. Frankie excels as a surgical nurse in Vietnam and becomes close with fellow nurses Ethel and Barb. After Ethel’s tour ends, Frankie and Barb gets assigned to the base at Pleiku, near the Cambodian border, where some of the heaviest fighting occurs. There, she reunites with Navy officer Rye Walsh, Finley’s best friend, and they become lovers. When Frankie returns to the U.S., she’s met with indifference for her service from her parents, who are still grieving her brother’s death, and disdain from people who oppose the war. She leans on alcohol and drugs while struggling to acclimate to civilian life. Though the situations and dialogue can feel contrived (Rye, after announcing he’s re-upping, says to Frankie at the close of a chapter, “I’m not leaving my girl”), Hannah’s depictions of Frankie tending to wounded soldiers are urgent and eye-opening, and a reunion of the three nurses for Frankie’s benefit is poignantly told. Fans of women’s historicals will enjoy this magnetic wartime story." —Publishers Weekly
"Many would say that the nurses who helped fight the Vietnam War were forgotten. Believe me, for those of us who were there, these women were never forgottenand never will be. Kristin Hannah honors them with this novel." Karl Marlantes, author of Matterhorn
"Hannah enjoys the authorial reach to educate legions of readers about the significant subjects she dramatizes. In doing so she demonstrates that, just like the women she writes about, she deserves to be recognized." -Minneapolis Star Tribune
"a moving, gripping tale that pays tribute to the under-appreciated skill and courage of combat nurses." Booklist, starred review
"Hannah tells the story of real but unsung heroes" Washington Post
A young woman’s experience as a nurse in Vietnam casts a deep shadow over her life.
When we learn that the farewell party in the opening scene is for Frances “Frankie” McGrath’s older brother—“a golden boy, a wild child who could make the hardest heart soften”—who is leaving to serve in Vietnam in 1966, we feel pretty certain that poor Finley McGrath is marked for death. Still, it’s a surprise when the fateful doorbell rings less than 20 pages later. His death inspires his sister to enlist as an Army nurse, and this turn of events is just the beginning of a roller coaster of a plot that’s impressive and engrossing if at times a bit formulaic. Hannah renders the experiences of the young women who served in Vietnam in all-encompassing detail. The first half of the book, set in gore-drenched hospital wards, mildewed dorm rooms, and boozy officers’ clubs, is an exciting read, tracking the transformation of virginal, uptight Frankie into a crack surgical nurse and woman of the world. Her tensely platonic romance with a married surgeon ends when his broken, unbreathing body is airlifted out by helicopter; she throws her pent-up passion into a wild affair with a soldier who happens to be her dead brother’s best friend. In the second part of the book, after the war, Frankie seems to experience every possible bad break. A drawback of the story is that none of the secondary characters in her life are fully three-dimensional: Her dismissive, chauvinistic father and tight-lipped, pill-popping mother, her fellow nurses, and her various love interests are more plot devices than people. You’ll wish you could have gone to Vegas and placed a bet on the ending—while it’s against all the odds, you’ll see it coming from a mile away.
A dramatic, vividly detailed reconstruction of a little-known aspect of the Vietnam War.