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The Women by Kristin Hannah

Exploring the Vietnam War from a female perspective, The Women follows the story of ‘Frankie’ McGrath, who impulsively signs up to join the Army Nurse Corps to follow her beloved brother to Vietnam. Her well-to-do family are horrified. They consider her brother a hero to go to war, but they cannot understand her decision to go also as a woman.

Before Frankie even reaches Vietnam, the news arrives that her brother has been killed, and she arrives in Vietnam grieving, inexperienced and completely unprepared for the brutal war she has been thrust into. She is befriended by two women who try to guide her as best as they can, but no one can prepare for the chaos and destruction of being a nurse in this situation, with horrific injuries and young men dying in droves.

Despite being exhausted and traumatised, Frankie proves herself to be an excellent combat nurse, but it is affairs of the heart that may be her ultimate undoing. And when Frankie finally returns home to America, it is to anger and abuse, even denial that women served in Vietnam. While Frankie is physically unharmed from war, the emotional and mental anguish will reverberate for the rest of her life…

The Women is both beautiful and brutal, breathtaking and insightful. It examines sensitively this infamous war shining a light on the women who served in this conflict. It brings to life the real-life women and their heroic service to their country in extreme conditions, but also the tragedy of their homecoming and the very real problems Vietnam vets faced on their return.

Frankie is an unforgettable character, and this is an astonishingly powerful novel, one that both horrifies and uplifts at the same time. The Women is extraordinary!

Reviewer: Karen McMillan

Pan Macmillan



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