Skip to main content

Readers Comment on THE WOMEN by Kristin Hannah

Special Feature

Readers Comment on THE WOMEN by Kristin Hannah


Last November, 25 readers won an advance copy of THE WOMEN by Kristin Hannah, which releases on February 6th and will be a Bets On pick. We asked them to read the book and let us know their thoughts on it. We are happy to share their comments with you here. Many thanks to all who took the time to give us such wonderful feedback.

» Click here to read more about the book.
» Click here to read an excerpt.
» Click here to visit Kristin Hannah's website.


Patricia R. from Henderson, NV
Kristin Hannah proves once again that she is a master storyteller. She’s at the top of her game in THE WOMEN. Spanning across two decades from the mid-’60s, the story begins in an idyllic setting in the McGraths’ mansion on Coronado Island. After their son joins the Navy, their 20-year-old daughter Frankie decides to enlist as a nurse in the Army Nurse Corps, the only service branch open to women. The story describes her transformation from being an idealistic, inexperienced and naive young adult to becoming a skilled nurse in a medical evacuation unit in Vietnam. As she experiences firsthand the horrendous and devastating physical and mental injuries of critically wounded soldiers, she finds her purpose in life caring for these men during their last moments.

When she is back in civilian life, Frankie is jolted into a new reality: a divided nation of war hawks and pacifists, and civil rights protesters, a society that doesn’t welcome returning veterans or want to hear about their experiences. Frankie goes through several tumultuous years trying to find her place --- and her voice. On a self-destructive path, suffering from PTSD and addicted to alcohol and drugs, she eventually hits rock bottom. How she overcomes such overwhelming obstacles is brilliantly interwoven in the latter half of the book.

As a college student during the Vietnam War, I quickly related to the conservative and naive Frankie. So as I read the book, I was thoroughly immersed in the vivid and often gritty details of her coming of age, her loss of innocence, and her facing her demons. But it is her resilience, courage and indomitable spirit that resonate within me. I highly recommend this book to fans of Kristin Hannah and historical fiction, book clubs, and anyone who is looking for a well-researched book with flawed yet unforgettable characters and themes of self-discovery, reconciliation, redemption and hope.

Kathy C. from Emerson, AR
I absolutely LOVED this book and couldn't put it down. I love historical fiction, and THE WOMEN met all my expectations for a great read. I was in grade school when the Vietnam War started, but I do remember all the riots, the shooting at Kent State, etc. One of my biggest concerns is the way veterans have been and continue to be treated. They sacrificed so very much for OUR country and do not get the help and support they need.

I especially liked the insight that Kristin Hannah gave into dealing with grief. I lost the love of my life on May 12, 2022 and am still dealing with the grief. I am always open to any suggestions on ways to cope with the loss, and this book helped.

Tangie W. from Lake Worth, FL
This was a very emotional book for me to read. I was so absorbed by the traumatic experiences that Frankie and her friends had in Vietnam and deeply moved by their courage. Frankie’s struggle with her parents (especially her father) and PTSD was just as challenging as her wartime experience. I’m a veteran myself but was not sent to war. This book makes me appreciate more the sacrifices women made who served before me. Thank you, Kristin, for writing this story.

Laurie W. from Fredonia, NY
THE WOMEN by Kristin Hannah is a heartbreaking novel about war, loss and what it means to be forgotten. It additionally offers hope in the most challenging situations and love from the least likely sources.

Frankie is young and naive, having grown up in a sheltered community in California. She attended Catholic institutions through college and was always labeled the good girl. Frankie lived up to this reputation until she found herself in a Vietnam war zone where there was no relief from the destruction. After her brother, Finley, is shipped off to Vietnam, Frankie is determined to follow him. She is just shy of 21 when she enlists in the Army Nurse Corps, the only branch of the military that will take her to war without a long delay. Frankie served two tours with the 36th and 71st Evacuation hospitals.

When Frankie arrives there, she is overwhelmed and shocked by what she finds. Nothing resembles what the US news stations are reporting. From mortar attacks to the incoming wounded, she learns to cope and survive in a world of death and deceit.

When Frankie returns to California, it is a different world than the one she left. There is no fanfare to welcome her, and the protesters spit on her and call her names. The betrayal of her parents hits her the hardest, and she has no one to turn to. She tries to get help twice from the VA for PTSD, nightmares, visions and drinking, but they will not help. They insist there were no women in Vietnam. Frankie’s two loyal friends, Ethel and Barb, help her through the worst days and guide her toward a meaningful future.

Kristin Hannah is one of my favorite authors. THE WOMEN sits at the top of the list of my favorites. As with all of Kristin’s books, have a box of Kleenex close.

It’s a 5-star read, and I absolutely loved it! Thank you, Bookreporter, for the ARC I won for an honest review.

Caryn S. from Spring Hill, TN
THE WOMEN is an incredible story that could only be told with the delicacy, heart and bravery that Kristin Hannah shares. Her past four novels have been 5-star reads for me, but this one will remain in my memory for a very long time.

The first half, the story in Vietnam during the war, made me feel like I was there with all the doctors and nurses. It felt like I was living in a movie. Those who enjoyed Forrest Gump will be the perfect readers for this story, and I can’t wait for everyone else to read it.

My thanks to Bookreporter and the publisher for gifting me an early copy. This easily could be a “Best of 2024” read.

Debbie M. from Liverpool, NY
Everyone should read THE WOMEN! To those who are too young to remember, you need to read this book to understand that the Vietnam War was much more than the two pages it is afforded in your history book. It is a story of a generation lost. If you grew up during the Vietnam War, this book will bring back memories --- good and bad --- about a nation torn apart by a war few understood and many wanted no part of.

In the midst of all that strife, we forgot about the tens of thousands of men who fought in that war for the honor of our country. And we didn’t even recognize the thousands of military nurses who worked tirelessly in evacuation hospitals and surgical field hospitals to save their lives or stay by their sides during the last hours of their lives.

Perhaps, even worse, this nation, which was tired of war, did not honor those who returned. Although they needed medical and psychiatric help to heal them, they were met with disdain, spat upon and brushed aside. This is especially true of the nurses who were told by the public, at VA hospitals and even by returning servicemen that there were no women in Vietnam.

This book honors those nurses who volunteered and risked their lives to care for a generation of young men who were injured and sometimes died in the service of their country. Kristin Hannah has given her readers an opportunity to say, “Thank you, nurses, for all you did. You are not forgotten!”

Melanie S. from Boca Raton, FL
I thought THE WOMEN was well-researched and brought forth an aspect of the post-Vietnam era that I never thought about before reading it. I think it's a very important book for that reason.

I thought Kristin Hannah brought forth many accurate details of that time period. I could hear the playlist of all the songs mentioned running in the background, particularly in the Vietnam scenes. I completely forgot that I had a POW bracelet when I was in elementary school/junior high school!

The accurate portrayal of Frankie's PTSD, before it was labeled as such, was spot-on.

The question that kept plaguing me is completely ridiculous, I know, but I just want to put it down in writing. The ’60s was when diet sodas first came into existence, Tab possibly being the first. I remember drinking it with my dad. Why is it spelled "TaB" in the book? That jumped out at me each time I read it. Upon my research, I do see the middle letter is a lower case "a," so I guess that is why, but it just jumped off the page each time I read it spelled out that way.

Overall, THE WOMEN was a page-turner that kept my interest. I did find the fact that each time Frankie fell in love with someone he was killed off a bit "soapy," and even more so when several came back to life. It reminded me of tragedy after tragedy in THE FOUR WINDS, where the main character just couldn't catch a break. I am guessing that really did happen in some cases, but for two men she lost to be brought back to life seemed a bit far-fetched. That aside, I did enjoy the book and would recommend it to others.

Katy D. from Rochester, MN
Fascinating! A great read! Well done!

It is so interesting to read a story about the Vietnam War from a woman's perspective, and not just the view from the "homefront" wife. Finally! I enjoyed the cultural references and how they tied into the storyline without feeling like they were "placed" there. This book helped me better understand this era of time and what women faced --- not just the women at war, but women in general. It was hard to read the parts of Frankie's story when she was crying out for help, yet no one was able to assist her. To read over and over again "There are/were no women in Vietnam" was heartbreaking. Yet I know this statement was very true to the times.

This book captured the story, the times and the culture very beautifully! My book club would love it, and as a member of Gen X, I know my friends would too.

Becky Z. from Fort Mill, SC
This was a painful read, which is a tribute to the detailed accuracy that Kristin Hannah portrays in her prose about the Vietnam experience. If you grew up in the ’70s as I did, you were well aware of the controversy in our country surrounding the war itself and those who served. As a nurse, I was very engaged in the chapters describing nursing activities to treat combat injuries with limited supplies and staff. Graphic and horrific circumstances just gut-punched me.

The re-entry into society was spot-on as I have several close friends who still suffer severe PTSD, addiction and the toxic implications of Agent Orange. It is an epic novel and covers so many hot topics and issues that at times it seemed a bit long and heavy, and may have used some further editing. But the evolution of Frankie's development and life was jam-packed and as authentic as you will find without talking to a woman who served in Vietnam.
KUDOS to Kristin for telling a story long forgotten by many and unknown to others. Women are strong heroes in any war when they sacrifice to serve. My thanks to Bookreporter for an advance copy of the novel via the contest. I am a TRUE Kristin Hannah fanatic, so I was honored to get a sneak peak at what is sure to be a great book of 2024!

Lily M. from Sykesville, MD
I so enjoyed THE WOMEN as I lived through this time period. I remember frantically listening to the radio in my dorm room praying that my boyfriend (now husband) got a high number. I remember going to the rallies in DC to end this inappropriate war. Sadly, I remember the devastated broken young veterans coming home, if they were lucky. Kristin's language was so vivid! However, I had no idea that the women who served were denied any recognition or benefits. Nor could I imagine a parent denying a daughter’s sacrifice as she served her country.

I can appreciate how important the theme of remembrance of herstory is, but I also believe that we need to move forward, not backward. I am not sure if Frankie or our country fully appreciates that no one wins from a war. The soldiers, the victims or destruction to the country never warrants any war. I do not know what the answers are, but watching the devastation of the current wars leads me to believe that sadly we have learned nothing.

I thought this book is most current and relevant in addition to educating the reader as to the conditions the women volunteers had to endure. And yes, that too has not made any significant improvements!

Annemarie P. from Westfield, NJ
With a jolting beginning, THE WOMEN brought me to the Vietnam of the wounded and dead with the tired, war-worn nurses and doctors who cared for them. At the same time, the book reminded me that while a war was going on in Vietnam, a war was also going on here at home. There were no physical casualties, but there were casualties nonetheless.

Catherine C. from Mansfield, MA
This was an eye-opening novel that brought into focus the unseen women who served in the Vietnam War. I was drawn into the story of Frankie both during her service and in the aftermath. This is a part of modern history that I did not know a lot about in depth, although I do remember the POW bracelets. The author did a wonderful job presenting the themes of family, service, love, friendship and mental health. I loved that there was no stereotypical happy ending.

Diane L. from New York, NY
I was a big fan of the TV show “China Beach,” so I was excited to read THE WOMEN. Kristin Hannah did a wonderful job with this story. I felt like I was right there with Frankie, it was so visceral. The lifelong friendship between Frankie, Ethel and Barb --- three very different women --- was moving and heartfelt, and the challenges that Frankie faced returning home were enlightening.

Growing up watching “M*A*S*H” on TV, it never occurred to me that people would dismiss the military service of women by stating that there were no women in Vietnam. That was shocking to me. The relationship with Frankie and her parents was emotional as well. I liked how Hannah used the letters between Frankie and her parents to convey the growing discord in the US over the war.

THE WOMEN is a book that will stay with me for a long time. There is so much here for book clubs to discuss.

Katy D. from Wake Forest, NC
More so as a book about Vietnam, THE WOMEN traces the depths of addiction of its main character, Frankie McGrath. How does one fall from grace? A too-familiar timeline is depicted by Kristin Hannah. As a young nurse, Frankie enters the war zone and witnesses the pillars of truth in her life crumble into ill repair. As a veteran, her re-entry into American society is challenged by her family and popular public opinion at the time. As a human being, Frankie knows she has the power to heal people. But who will do the same for her?  

Frankie's internal struggle after the war is what will bring THE WOMEN to the forefront of the best novels to read in 2024 and one of the most discussed books of the year. I will share my advance reading copy and thoughts at my next book club meeting. From personal accountability for your country's actions to the women's movement to PTSD to addiction, there are multiple facets for a book club to explore and discuss.

Nancy R. from Joy, IL
This fictional portrayal of how life could be for a female Vietnam veteran was quite moving for me. Although I was young during the Vietnam era, I was certainly aware of the opposition that was being fueled at home regarding the Vietnam War and those who served. But Kristin Hannah's story really brought it to a level of personal experience. Her descriptions of how it was in a field hospital, the trauma that these nurses experienced, and the aftermath of their return home was eye-opening. Hannah was able to address so many of the topics (although some very briefly) generated by war: trauma, a sense of duty, mental health, Agent Orange, family and friendships, as well as many others. She especially touched on the resilience of this one nurse and her persistence to survive.

Michelle M. from Alton, NH
THE WOMEN started a little slow but soon made you feel like you were right there beside the nurses and doctors experiencing the horrors of Vietnam. Kristin Hannah tries to do a lot in this book. What shined through was the treatment towards Vietnam vets, especially women who were told over and over that “Women weren’t in Vietnam.”

The depth of the after-effects of war for nurses was poignantly portrayed, everything from addiction to PTSD to suicide. I felt fully immersed in the story once Frankie was in Vietnam but even more so after she came home. It was then that I couldn’t put the book down.

Every time I read a Kristin Hannah book, I feel like I’m reading a different author’s writing. She definitely reinvents herself, and her stories are all so different and original. My two favorites are THE NIGHTINGALE and THE GREAT ALONE. I felt a strong emotional connection to both of those books. This one grabbed me emotionally as well; it just took a bit longer to get there.

I also absolutely loved the meaningful subject of this book and feel it may be her most important subject to date!

Cindy M. from Arlington, TX
Women ARE heroes in this book. Once again, Kristin Hannah shows the part women play in the overall wellness they provide in their roles as nurturers and caregivers. However, men are also a part of that force that provides compassion and caring for the wounded. As a young adult in the ’70s, I came to a new appreciation of the role played by ALL participants in the Vietnam War. THE WOMEN is heartbreaking but, in the end, hopeful. I will recommend it to my neighborhood book group comprised of mostly baby boomers.

Virginia L. from Binghamton, NY
THE WOMEN was an outstanding book. It brought back memories of my youth that I’d forgotten. It is disheartening to think that I’ve known many a male Vietnam veteran, listened to stories and never gave a thought to The Women. It is shameful as a nation that their service was brushed under the rug. I have recommended this book to both my friends and my book club members. I look forward to their thoughts.

Nancy H. from Alabaster, AL
The book really rang home since I grew up in the Vietnam era. My husband was drafted, and many friends were sent over. Also, my mother was a nurse. The details were chilling, and the emotions roused were heartfelt. I don’t think I could have done what Frankie did.

Colleen B. from Harlem, MT
I was moved by this novel. It was revelatory and insightful concerning the ill-preparedness of troops, nurses and other personnel sent to Vietnam. It also helped me understand PTSD.

Robbi S. from Redmond, WA
I loved THE WOMEN and have already recommended it to my friends.