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The Women by Kristin Hannah
Historical fiction

The Women

3peat author

Kristin Hannah is officially a 3-time author at BOTM, which is a pretty big deal!

by Kristin Hannah

Excellent choice

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Quick take

Tracing a coming-of-age and a nation gravely divided, an epic tribute to undersung female heroes of the Vietnam War.

Good to know

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_400

    400+ pages

  • Illustrated icon, Icons_Underdog

    Underdog

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_60s

    60s

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_War

    War

Synopsis

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 overwhelmed 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.

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Content warning

This book contains mentions of suicidal ideation and scenes that depict miscarriage.

Free sample

Get an early look from the first pages of The Women.
The Women

One

CORONADO ISLAND, CALIFORNIA

MAY 1966

The walled and gated McGrath estate was a world unto itself, protected and private. On this twilit evening, the Tudor-style home’s mullioned windows glowed jewel-like amid the lush, landscaped grounds. Palm fronds swayed overhead; candles floated on the surface of the pool and golden lanterns hung from the branches of a large California live oak. Black-clad servers moved among the well-dressed crowd, carrying silver trays full of champagne, while a jazz trio played softly in the corner.

Twenty-year-old Frances Grace McGrath knew what was expected of her tonight. She was to be the very portrait of a well-bred young lady, smiling and serene; any untoward emotions were to be contained and concealed, borne in silence. The lessons Frankie had been taught at home and at church and at St. Bernadette’s Academy for Girls had instilled in her a rigorous sense of propriety. The unrest going on across the country these days, erupting on city streets and college campuses, was a distant and alien world to her, as incomprehensible as the conflict in faraway Vietnam.

She circulated among the guests, sipping an ice-cold Coca-Cola, trying to smile, stopping now and then to make small talk with her parents’ friends, hoping her worry didn’t show. All the while, her gaze searched the crowd for her brother, who was late to his own party.

Frankie idolized her older brother, Finley. They’d always been inseparable, a pair of black-haired, blue-eyed kids, less than two years apart in age, who’d spent the long California summers unsupervised by adults, riding their bikes from one end of sleepy Coronado Island to the other, rarely coming home before nightfall.

But now he was going where she couldn’t follow.

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Why I love it

Kristin Hannah has done it again, folks. In her new novel, The Women, the reigning queen of American historical fiction takes on the Vietnam War in her inimitable epic style.

The year is 1965. Frances “Frankie” McGrath is young but already knows she wants to make a difference in the world. Then at a party she gets asked a question that spurs her to action: why can’t a woman be a hero as well? Not long after, Frankie enlists in the Army Nurse Corps to serve in Vietnam, following in the footsteps of her recently deployed brother.

While serving, Frankie experiences all the horrors and chaos of war. Boys younger than her brother shot. Psychological traumas and insufficient training rampant. Nonetheless, she does her best to provide care and assistance and avoids buckling with the support of two roommates who become lifelong friends. When Frankie eventually returns home, we watch as she struggles to reintegrate into a society that does not even see her as a hero. But she is resilient and battles onto a new path and outlook.

Prepare to shed at least a few tears. As in 2021 BOTY winner The Four Winds, here Hannah has crafted a potent tale about people defying the odds. In this particular case, she shines needed light on undersung female war heroism and the role it played in shaping our nation in a pivotal moment. The Women will deeply move and inspire you. What are you waiting for? Grab your copy.

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Member ratings (18,371)

  • Codi T.

    Frankfort, NY

    The Women gets 5 stars from me ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Rarely do books move me to tears, but this book got me a few times— and the end?! FORGET IT 😭 I flipped through these pages SO fast. Hannah’s very detailed,

  • Diana S.

    Morganville, NJ

    ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️- what happens when you join the army to serve your country, but the only role you are capable of playing is that of a nurse? A war that shouldn’t have been and shunned by people. Being a wo

  • Marey G.

    Vista, CA

    ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️/5 A heavy read, but well balanced with an overall hopeful tone, moving plot, a dive into an often overlooked period in the historical fiction genre, characters/relationships that come to l

  • Julia S.

    Toronto, ON

    ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ IF this book is not the 2024 BOTY (or at least a nominee) I will stage a one-woman protest at BOTM’s offices. It’s that good. Unputdownable. Respect to the women who served in Vietnam.

  • Ashley K.

    Palm Beach Gardens, FL

    KH did it again. Interesting to learn of women in that time of war. I had a specific happy ending I was looking for but got the realistic version of the time which made me love it more. YES⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

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