The Women by Kristin Hannah Book Club Questions & Summary

This month, my book club read The Women by Kristin Hannah, and it was a perfect book club pick! Not only is it an emotional, discussion-worthy historical fiction book, but it also sheds light on some lesser-known topics (like the heroic efforts of women during the Vietnam War). Below, I’m sharing a quick summary recap of the story, plus some book club questions to help inspire your discussion!

The Women by Kristin Hannah hardcover book sitting on a book cart on top of a pile of paperback books

The Women by Kristin Hannah: Book Club Pick

This book was easily a 5-star read for me, and will likely be one of my top favorite books of 2024. It reminded me how much I love Kristin Hannah’s historical fiction books!

I was so invested in the story and could not put it down – I read it in just a few days. (Just be aware, like with many of Kristin Hannah’s stories, it is quite emotional and heart-wrenching at times).

This was also one of my picks for the best book club books to read in 2024!

I’m sharing a quick summary of the overall plot below. If you haven’t read the book yet, there are spoilers ahead!

The Women by Kristin Hannah book cover

Quick Plot Summary

This story follows a young woman who joins the Army Nurse Corps during the Vietnam War.

Frankie McGrath comes of age during a turbulent time for her country: the 1960s. When her brother is shipped off to war, Frankie decides to leave behind her sheltered life and enlist as a nurse. But she has no idea what’s to come.

Frankie is devastated to learn that her brother was killed in action. In Vietnam, the conditions are much more dangerous than she was told, and she must quickly adjust to life at the hospital barracks while the war rages around her.

She becomes close with a doctor who serves with her (Jamie), but he’s married, and she isn’t willing to compromise her morals. She also forms a strong friendship with two fellow nurses, Barb and Ethel.

Later, she falls in love with a pilot (Rye), and they become involved.

When Frankie returns to America after serving, she is shocked to find that people are hostile towards her and other veterans. Not only that, but nobody believes that women actually served in the war.

Frankie has trouble assimilating back into society, especially after getting the news that Rye was killed in action. She struggles with her mental health and addiction, and has a falling out with her parents.

With the support of her best friends Barb and Ethel, she gets back on her feet and finds a job as a surgical nurse.

After reconciling with her parents and returning home, Frankie is shocked to find out that Rye is alive (he was a prisoner of war), and that he had a wife and child even while they were together.

After becoming involved with Rye again (against her better judgement), Frankie has a final breakdown and is brought to a treatment facility. She is finally able to work through some of her trauma, and is diagnosed with PTSD.

Lastly, Frankie buys land in Montana for a fresh start, and turns it into a refuge for other women who served in the war.

At a memorial service, she reunites with Jamie (the doctor from her first assignment in the war). It turns out was also a prisoner of war, and he and his wife have parted ways.

Two hardcover books on a white fireplace mantel with text on top that reads The Women by Kristin Hannah book club questions

The Women Book Club Discussion Questions

And now, here are some The Women questions to discuss during your book club meeting!

  • What was your first impression of Frankie? Did she remind you of yourself at all?

  • Which overarching themes did you notice in this story?

  • Discuss Frankie’s relationship with her parents throughout the book. Why do you think Frankie’s parents had such a hard time understanding Frankie’s choice to enlist?

  • Discuss Frankie’s friendship with Barb and Ethel. What impact did they have on her life?

  • How did you think Frankie’s experience in the war shaped her future choices?

  • How did you feel about each of Frankie’s romantic interests (Jamie, Rye, and Henry)?

  • How did you feel about the way Frankie was treated when she returned from the war? Why do you think this happened (to women and to veterans in general)?

  • Did you suspect what happened with Rye, or did it shock you?

  • How did you feel about the ending? Do you think it fit the story well? What do you think happens afterward?

  • How much did you know about the conflict in Vietnam going into this book? Did you learn anything new? Did this book change your perception of the war?

  • If you were alive during the Vietnam War, how much do you remember about that period in time?

  • Which format did you read this book: in print/e-book or did you listen to the audiobook? Would you recommend it in that format?

  • Have you read any other books set during this time period? Would you recommend them?

  • Have you read any other books by Kristin Hannah? Would you recommend them?

  • Has this book inspired you to read more historical fiction (or non-fiction)? If so, which time period are you interested in reading about next?

I hope you find these book club questions helpful! If you enjoyed this historical fiction novel, I highly recommend reading Kristin Hannah’s books The Great Alone and The Nightingale as well.

Have you read The Women yet? What did you think?

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