The Women by Kristin Hannah Book Review

Posted in: Novels
The Women by Kristin Hannah book review read by critics

Let’s begin with something that might seldom be found in most reviews. Kristin Hannah’s “The Women” achieves a remarkable feat by spotlighting the often-overlooked role of women in the context of the Vietnam War, a historical period typically dominated by narratives of male soldiers and combat. By centring her story on the experiences of female combat nurses, Hannah brings to light the bravery, resilience, and indispensable contributions of women who served in one of the most tumultuous and divisive wars in American history. This narrative shift not only broadens our understanding of the Vietnam War but also underscores the multifaceted impacts of war on all who are involved, regardless of gender. The detailed and empathetic portrayal of these women grappling with the dual burdens of war trauma and societal indifference upon their return is a powerful reminder of their sacrifices and strength. Hannah’s commitment to telling these untold stories enriches the historical fiction genre and ensures that the heroism of these women is acknowledged and celebrated. This accomplishment is no ordinary feat; it is a significant and much-needed contribution to literature and historical discourse, deserving widespread applause and recognition.

Now, let’s begin the book review by reviewing the basics of the novel.

Kristin Hannah’s novel “The Women” is a profoundly poignant and emotionally charged exploration of the Vietnam War, seen through the eyes of Frances “Frankie” McGrath. Set against the tumultuous backdrop of the 1960s, the story captures the harrowing experiences of a young woman who transitions from the sheltered life of Coronado Island to the chaotic and brutal reality of a wartime nurse. Hannah’s evocative prose, meticulous research, and rich character development make this novel significantly contribute to the historical fiction genre.

Plot and Setting:
“The Women” follows Frankie McGrath, a nursing student from Southern California who enlists in the Army Nurse Corps after her brother’s deployment to Vietnam. The novel vividly depicts the Vietnam War, from the frontline battles to the quieter yet equally intense struggles within medical tents. Hannah’s depiction of the war-torn landscape is haunting and immersive, drawing readers into the chaos and heartbreak experienced by those who served.

Character Development:
Frankie’s journey from naivety to resilience is at the novel’s heart. Initially portrayed as a sheltered and idealistic young woman, Frankie evolves into a skilled and steadfast nurse capable of confronting the grim realities of war. Her transformation is compelling and authentic, reflecting war’s profound impact on personal growth and identity. The supporting characters, including fellow nurses and soldiers, are equally well-developed, providing a multifaceted view of the war’s effects on individuals.

Themes and Emotional Depth:
Hannah explores several powerful themes, including the camaraderie and solidarity among female nurses, the psychological and emotional toll of war, and the often overlooked contributions of women in military history. The novel delves into the struggles faced by returning veterans, particularly women, who were met with indifference or hostility upon their return home. Frankie’s battle with post-traumatic stress disorder and her efforts to readjust to civilian life are portrayed with sensitivity and depth, highlighting the enduring scars of war.

Writing Style and Research:
Kristin Hannah’s writing is both powerful and evocative, bringing to life the horrors of war and the beauty of friendship with equal intensity. Her meticulous research is evident in the detailed descriptions of medical procedures, military protocols, and the overall atmosphere of the 1960s. Hannah’s attention to detail enhances the narrative’s authenticity, making it a rich and immersive reading experience.

Critical Reception:
“The Women” has been widely praised for its dramatic and vividly detailed reconstruction of a little-known aspect of the Vietnam War. Critics have lauded Hannah for her ability to blend broad historical sweeps with intimate, character-driven storytelling. Beatriz Williams of The New York Times Book Review commended Hannah for re-centring the Vietnam War narrative on women’s experiences, noting the visceral impact of her detailed descriptions. However, some critics, such as Meredith Maran of The Boston Globe, have pointed out the use of certain clichés and predictable elements, suggesting that a more concise narrative might have strengthened the novel’s impact.


“The Women” by Kristin Hannah is a beautifully written and profoundly moving novel that offers a fresh and essential perspective on the Vietnam War. Its focus on the experiences of female nurses, combined with Hannah’s evocative prose and thorough research, makes it a standout work in historical fiction. This novel is a must-read for anyone interested in exploring the strength and resilience of women in the face of adversity and the often-overlooked aspects of military history. Through “The Women,” Hannah pays a poignant tribute to the unsung heroes of the Vietnam War, ensuring their stories are remembered and honoured.

You can get a copy of this novel from Amazon India – click here to buy one now.


Review by Nidhi for ReadByCritics

The Women by Kristin Hannah Book Review
  • Critical Rating


This novel urgently illuminates the role of brave women in the Vietnam War. From the perspective of a fictional character, Kristin Hannah weaves a powerful story.

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