23 February 2024

The Women


By Kristin Hannah


A 2024 Top Rated Read

In 1965 Frances 'Frankie' McGrath's brother enlists for Vietnam. Frankie, a newly qualified nurse, decides to follow and joins the Army Nurses Corps, but at 20-years-old she's totally unprepared for the horrors of war. She's surrounded by death and destruction — men with limbs blown off and those so close to death all she can do is offer comfort in their final moments. But through all the bloodshed and loss of life, she finds enduring friendship with fellow nurses Barb and Ethel. 

On returning home to Coronado Island in California, she discovers a changed America. Mentally scarred, her life rapidly spirals out of control. All attempts to seek help for her PTSD are met with refusal and disdain. Will she become yet another victim of the enormous human cost of war?

I thought The Women was yet another amazing novel from talented author Kristin Hannah. Her books take the reader on emotional epic journeys and this one was no exception. It pulled at the heartstrings; painting a vivid ugly picture of war and the terrible loss of life. Being British and born in the late 1960s I knew only the barest facts, but after reading The Women my knowledge and understanding of the Vietnam War has increased exponentially.

The women were largely forgotten. On coming home psychiatric help was available for male veterans — the women were turned away; unrecognised as war heroes. Frankie's story left me shattered; an emotional wreck and heartbroken. The courage of those who fought for their country and those who didn't make it finally being recognised and honoured with the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and the Vietnam Women's Memorial in Washington, D.C.

Told with compassion and empathy, The Women was deeply moving and a privilege to read.


  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Pan
  • Publication Year: 2024
  • Author: Kristin Hannah
  • Genre: Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction, War & Military


‘Women can be heroes, too’. When twenty-year-old nursing student, Frances “Frankie” McGrath, hears these unexpected words, it is a revelation. Raised on California’s idyllic Coronado Island and sheltered by her conservative parents, she has always prided herself on doing the right thing, being a good girl. But in 1965 the world is changing, and she suddenly imagines a different path for her life. When her brother ships out to serve in Vietnam, she impulsively joins the Army Nurses Corps and follows his path.

As green and inexperienced as the young men sent to Vietnam to fight, Frankie is overwhelmed by the chaos and destruction of war, as well as the unexpected trauma of coming home to a changed America. Frankie will also discover the true value of female friendship and the heartbreak that love can cause.

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