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  • Writer's pictureJudith D Collins

The Women

Narrator: Julia Whelan

Macmillan Audio

ISBN: 9781250178633

Publisher: St Martin's Press

Publication Date: 02/06/2024

Format: Hardcover

My Rating: 5 Stars +(ARC)

The missing. The forgotten. The brave… The women.

From master storyteller Kristin Hannah, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Nightingale and The Four Winds, comes the story of a turbulent, transformative era in America: the 1960s. The Women is that rarest of novels―at once an intimate portrait of a woman coming of age in a dangerous time and an epic tale of a nation divided by war and broken by politics, of a generation both fueled by dreams and lost on the battlefield.

“Women can be heroes, too.”

When twenty-year-old nursing student Frances “Frankie” McGrath hears these unexpected words, it is a revelation. Raised on 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 choice for her life. When her brother ships out to serve in Vietnam, she impulsively 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, as well as the unexpected trauma of coming home to a changed and politically divided America.

The Women is the story of one woman gone to war, but it shines a light on the story of all women who put themselves in harm’s way to help others. Women whose sacrifice and commitment to their country has all too often been forgotten. A novel of searing insight and lyric beauty, The Women is a profoundly emotional, richly drawn story with a memorable heroine whose extraordinary idealism and courage under fire define a generation.

My Review

Master storyteller Kristin Hannah returns following The Four Winds with her latest powerful novel, THE WOMEN. A beautiful, searing, coming-of-age historical fiction of a young woman's journey as a nurse in Vietnam set in a dangerous time with a divided nation in a man's world.



Twenty-year-old Frances "Frankie" McGrath's brother is leaving to serve in Vietnam, and later, she is inspired to enlist as an Army nurse, much to her parent's rejection of this idea and non-supportive. She has always idolized her older brother Finley.

She grew up in the idyllic world of Southern California (a well-bred young lady) and sheltered by her conservative parents, who put appearances first. She has always prided herself in doing the right thing.

After all, the Army is no place for a woman, or so her parents and community say. Frankie is determined to be a good nurse, make her way, and learn a skill.

At first, Frankie is overwhelmed but soon finds that in war, people respect her and her surgical skill set, and she learns much and finds purpose.

The author takes us inside the hospital wards, the dorm rooms, the gentleman's clubs, the long hours, the devastation, the poor conditions, the sickness, death, the soldiers, their families, and the stories of the war. But soon, this becomes the norm for Frankie.

She is drawn to a man she works with, a doctor, but does not act on the impulses. She thinks he will never be back after a tragic event.

Then, her dead brother's friend shows up and enters into an affair, and he is not honest with her. When it is time to come home, she feels out of place at home, where the usual day-to-day things seem unimportant after what she has seen and experienced.

From life to death, she sees the brave, the broken, the lost, the dying. She hears about the families back home. She does what she can to help save lives.

The world is full of unrest, and America is divided. The lives that were lost in Vietnam, the protestors, and those who lost their families in a war did not matter.

Suffering from PTSD, she ups and enlists again, drawing her back into service. Her parents think she has lost her mind. Her parents are dysfunctional and unsupportive. She feels at a loss; however, she has the support of the two dear friends she met while serving. I loved the women's strong friendship.

When speaking of heroes, no one mentions a woman from the war. But women are heroes, and they are often overlooked and not honored.

THE WOMEN is beautifully written, haunting, and an essential tale of women—their courage, sacrifices, friendships, loss, forgiveness, pride, and bravery, whose service has often been forgotten.

I think for those of us who lived through the Vietnam War, all rings true, and for those of us experiencing the pandemic and all the service workers who gave of our time and their lives to help others.

I appreciated and enjoyed reading the Author's Note, the dedication, and the remarkable women and their stories that were shared from serving in Vietnam during the war and their treatment coming home and postwar struggles.

Thank you, Kristin, for telling this remarkable and inspiring story. Even though the world thinks there were no women in Vietnam, they indeed were, and the services they rendered will not be forgotten.

I loved the three words: WE WERE THERE!

THE WOMEN is a must-read, meticulously researched, emotionally charged —rich in character and place. It is ideal for book clubs and further discussions.

AUDIOBOOK: I had the pleasure of reading a digital review copy and the bonus of listening to an audio copy narrated by the fabulous Julia Whelan (a favorite). I highly recommend the audiobook that made the story come alive—Exceptional!

Top Books of 2024! I have read all of the author's books—a long-time avid fan and this is one of her best!

Much gratitude to St. Martin's Press, Macmillan Audio, and NetGalley for a gifted ARC and ALC for honest feedback. #SMPInfluencers

@JudithDCollins | #JDCMustReadBooks

Pub Date: Feb 6, 2024

My Rating: 5 Stars +


“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 forgotten--and never will be. Kristin Hannah honors them with this novel."

--Karl Marlantes, author of Matterhorn

Jenna Bush Hager Shares Links to an Interview with Kristin and an Excerpt from The Women

“Drumroll please. Kristin Hannah is one of our favorite authors and a beloved member of the RWJ (Read With Jenna) family.”

Read the interview and the excerpt on

About the Author

Photo Credit: Kevin Lynch

Kristin Hannah is the award-winning and bestselling author of more than 20 novels including the international blockbuster, The Nightingale, which was named Goodreads Best Historical fiction novel for 2015 and won the coveted People’s Choice award for best fiction in the same year. Additionally, it was a selection of the Reese Witherspoon Book Club in 2023. It was named a Best Book of the Year by Amazon, iTunes, Buzzfeed, the Wall Street Journal, Paste, and The Week. In 2018, The Great Alone became an instant New York Times #1 bestseller and was named the Best Historical Novel of the Year by Goodreads.

The Four Winds was published in February of 2021 and immediately hit #1 on the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and Indie bookstores’ bestseller lists. Additionally, it was selected as a book club pick by the both Today Show and the Book Of the Month club, which named it the best book of 2021.

The Nightingale is currently in production at Tri Star, with Dakota and Elle Fanning set to star. Tri Star has also optioned The Great Alone and it is in development. Firefly Lane, her beloved novel about two best friends, was the #1 Netflix series around the world, in the week it came out. The popular tv show stars Katherine Heigl and Sarah Chalke and Season Two is currently set to conclude the series on April 27, 2023.

A former attorney, Kristin lives in the Pacific Northwest. WEBSITE







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