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Book Club Questions for The Women by Kristin Hannah

Book Club Questions for The Women by Kristin Hannah

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Book club questions for The Women by Kristin Hannah takes an in-depth look at this fantastic novel about a woman’s journey to the Vietnam War and back. There will be spoilers so for more context about the story, check out my spoiler-free review first.

The Women is a stunning book. You know that feeling when you read a novel and just everything feels right? The main character, the setting, conflict, ending—just everything. These are the type of stories that stick with you for a long time. I often feel that way about Kristin Hannah’s stories, but I think The Women might be my new favorite.

Be sure to let me know your thoughts about the novel as well! Feel free to comment below.

The 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 over-whelmed 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.

Book Club Questions for The Women

  1. Why was The Women the right title for this novel?
  2. For those who lived during the Vietnam War, can you share your memories of that era? What most sticks out to you? How did it feel reading about that era?
  3. And for those who weren’t yet born, how much knowledge did you have about the Vietnam War and this time period prior to reading the novel? What was your impression reading about this time period?
  4. Do you feel you learned something new by reading The Women?
  5. What are your thoughts about Frankie, as the protagonist? Let’s talk about her growth journey from the beginning of the novel to the end.
  6. Her brother’s friend, Rye, who will play a bigger role in the novel, says to her “women can be heroes.” Why did that struck such a chord with Frankie?
  7. Why did she decide to serve as a nurse during the war? What was she hoping to achieve?
  8. How did her brother’s death in Vietnam impact both Frankie and her family?
  9. As soon as Frankie arrives to Vietnam, she learns the war is very different than what’s presented to the American public. It’s chaotic, scary and changes every minute. What were your thoughts as you read all the hospital scenes?
  10. Frankie develops a close friendship with her fellow nurses, Barb and Ethel. Let’s talk about how they bonded through their war experiences.
  11. Frankie also gets close to a married doctor, Jamie. What were your thoughts on their dynamic and budding romance?
  12. After Jamie seemingly dies, Frankie is eventually transferred to another hospital and she runs into Rye again. While she’s resistant at first because Rye is engaged, he tells her the engagement is off and they start a romance. Did you trust Rye or did you have your suspicions about him?
  13. Both Jamie, and we come to learn Rye, are married but still pursue Frankie. While Jamie is more honest, and it does seem he’s in an unhappy marriage, Rye completely lies to Frankie. Why does it seem that infidelity was common (at least in the story’s context) during the war?
  14. Why did Frankie decide to extend her time in Vietnam instead of come back home?
  15. When did Frankie start to realize what the public was being told about the war was not true?
  16. This book is divided into two parts, during the war and the aftermath. Let’s first talk about Frankie’s return home and the unhero’s welcome. What were your thoughts as you read the horrible treatment she received? Why were her parents not supportive of her time in the war?
  17. While the male veterans also received the harsh treatment, they at least could band together. But the women of the war were not considered veterans and not able to recieve the same benefits as veterans. Why did society try to erase women’s involvement in the war?
  18. Frankie holds on to hope that Rye will soon return home, but she finds out from his father that he was killed in action. She soon falls into a deep depression as a result of her grief but also undiagnosed PTSD from the war. Why was it important the author showed the reader Frankie’s experience with PTSD?
  19. What were your thoughts about her relationship with Henry? Could she have been happy with him long term?
  20. The big twist comes out that Rye survived the war. But he lied to Frankie—he’s in fact married with a child. They eventually meet up again and he tells her he wants to leave his wife and they embark on an affair. Let’s discuss Rye’s manipulation. Do you think he ever cared about Frankie or was she merely an object to him?
  21. Frankie eventually hits rock bottom and almost kills a man on a bicycle. This causes her parents to enlist help and Frankie goes to rehab and gets sober. Let’s talk about Frankie’s recovery.
  22. Why was the ranch in Montana the right fit for Frankie?
  23. Eventually, we get to the ’80s and the ranch has become a safe haven for women of the Vietnam War. Frankie and her friends decide to attend the dedicated of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Why was it important for them to attend?
  24. At the dedication, Frankie runs into Jamie, who survived. They both talk about the hardships gained from the war but the spark is still there. What does the future hold for them? What did you think about the ending overall?
  25. Do you have any favorite quotes or passages you would like to share?

Additional Recommendations

Hope you enjoyed book club questions for The Women! Here are some more recommendations along with links to book club questions.

The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah

If you haven’t read The Four Winds also by Kristin Hannah! I highly recommend it. It’s also very impactful and engaging.

Texas, 1921. A time of abundance. The Great War is over, the bounty of the land is plentiful, and America is on the brink of a new and optimistic era. But for Elsa Wolcott, deemed too old to marry in a time when marriage is a woman’s only option, the future seems bleak. Until the night she meets Rafe Martinelli and decides to change the direction of her life. With her reputation in ruin, there is only one respectable choice: marriage to a man she barely knows.

By 1934, the world has changed; millions are out of work and drought has devastated the Great Plains. Farmers are fighting to keep their land and their livelihoods as crops fail and water dries up and the earth cracks open. Dust storms roll relentlessly across the plains. Everything on the Martinelli farm is dying, including Elsa’s tenuous marriage; each day is a desperate battle against nature and a fight to keep her children alive.

In this uncertain and perilous time, Elsa—like so many of her neighbors—must make an agonizing choice: fight for the land she loves or leave it behind and go west, to California, in search of a better life for her family.

Check out my book club questions here.

The Alice Network by Kate Quinn

The Alice Network is one of my favorite Kate Quinn novels. The story centers on two women—a female spy recruited to the real-life Alice Network in France during World War I and an unconventional American socialite searching for her cousin in 1947. It’s a great one.

1947. In the chaotic aftermath of World War II, American college girl Charlie St. Clair is pregnant, unmarried, and on the verge of being thrown out of her very proper family. She’s also nursing a desperate hope that her beloved cousin Rose, who disappeared in Nazi-occupied France during the war, might still be alive. So when Charlie’s parents banish her to Europe to have her “little problem” taken care of, Charlie breaks free and heads to London, determined to find out what happened to the cousin she loves like a sister.

1915. A year into the Great War, Eve Gardiner burns to join the fight against the Germans and unexpectedly gets her chance when she’s recruited to work as a spy. Sent into enemy-occupied France, she’s trained by the mesmerizing Lili, the “Queen of Spies”, who manages a vast network of secret agents right under the enemy’s nose. 

Thirty years later, haunted by the betrayal that ultimately tore apart the Alice Network, Eve spends her days drunk and secluded in her crumbling London house. Until a young American barges in uttering a name Eve hasn’t heard in decades, and launches them both on a mission to find the truth…no matter where it leads.

Check out my book club questions here.

Happy reading!