30 Powerful The Women Book Club Questions

Thought Provoking The Women Books Club Questions

The Women by Kirsten Hannah was published on February 6th, 2023 and it is one of the best books we have ever read. The Women book club questions below can hopefully be a starting point for your book club discussion for your The Women book club.

Below is a review of The Women by Kristin Hannah, a summary, the ending with spoilers, and The Women book club discussion questions. Some of the questions may have spoilers but they are clearly marked. We have tried to keep the site as spoiler-free as possible, but we thought The Women book club questions would not be complete without some details. Feel free to use the page jumps to avoid the ending if you have not read the book.

*The Women Book Club Questions Post contains affiliate links. Purchases made through links result in a small commission to us at no cost to you. Some books have been gifted. All opinions are our own.

The Women Book Club Questions and Discussion Guide

Book Review // Summary // The Women Ending Explained //
The Women Book Club Questions // Shop for The Women by Kristin Hannah // Book Recommendations

The Women by Kristin Hannah Review

The Women

The Women by Kristin Hannah

In this emotional historical fiction, Hannah has transported readers to the frontlines of the Vietnam War. After Frankie makes a rash decision to enlist as a war nurse to make her family proud, she finds herself completely unprepared for what awaits her in Vietnam.

Hannah gives us a searing tale of life as a nurse during and after the war, as Frankie learns how to nurse, bonds with her fellow medical staff, and even falls in love during wartime.

The book’s second half explores what it was like to return home to a country divided over whether the war should even be fought. It was shocking to see how people treated returning vets, and how they refused to acknowledge that women were in ‘nam.

Hannah’s portrayal of PTSD had me gasping and feeling deeply for the characters within the story – particularly Frankie. This fast-paced story had my heart thumping throughout. It did get quite heavy at times and I had to have a lighter book on hand for breaks. Once again, Hannah has delivered a five-star book. #gifted by Macmillan Audio

Why We Loved It: The ending had me in tears of happiness, though tears of frustration, anger, and sadness also flowed at various times while I was reading. The book also deals with complex family issues and alcoholism.

Find this book in Books That Make You Cry / The Women Book Club Questions / Best Historical Fiction 2024

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The Women by Kristin Hannah Summary

The Women by Kirstin Hannah begins when Frankie’s brother Finley enlists in the Vietnam War, fulfilling the family tradition of serving their country. Growing up, their father could not serve but he maintains a wall of heroes that only includes men. Women are included on the wall when they get married.

Frankie enlists after being rejected twice and on that same day. When she gets home, she finds out that her brother has died. This devastates the entire family and now she must go to Vietnam. After going through basic training, Frankie arrives in Vietnam ill-prepared and with the wrong supplies. She immediately drinks the water and gets sick.

She settles into her hooch with the other nurses, Ethel and Barb who will later become her best friends, confidants, and sisters. On the first night in the hooch, she experiences an air raid where she meets a doctor named Jamie.

She starts in neuro and moves into surgery becoming more confident as a nurse. She works alongside and eventually falls in love with Jamie but she does not act on it because he is married.

On the day Ethel leaves, Jamie tells her he loves her but she does not respond because he is going on leave to see his wife. While on leave, his helicopter is attacked and he is injured badly. Frankie and the new doctor try to save him, but he has massive injuries and needs to be airlifted away. She writes “you fight” on one side of a rock and “Mcgrath” on the other and puts it in his duffle bag. As the helicopter takes off, Frankie watches as Jamie goes into cardiac arrest. The medic stops chest compressions and assumes that he is dead.

Throughout the war, she writes to her parents but only her mother writes her back. Her father never writes. Barbara gets her end date and she gets transferred with Frankie closer to the front lines. There is constant bombing and they are often operating without lights. They visit Saigon where they meet Rye Walsh, Finley’s best friend, at a party.

She dances with him and finds out he is engaged. She turns him down to spend time together because of his engagement. Barb is a Black woman and she teaches Frankie about civil rights before she leaves. Before Barb leaves, she encourages Frankie to have an affair with Rye. Frankie renews her tour of duty.

Rye tells Frankie that he is no longer engaged and they begin a relationship. She tells him she loves him before she leaves. He has 27 days left in his tour.

When she arrives home, she is unprepared for the backlash from the war. Rather than being treated as a hero, she is spit on by protesters and her parents barely talk to her. She brings a photo to hang the Hero Wall and her father refuses to hang it. She finds out her parents told everyone she was in Florence for two years.

She is suffering from severe PTSD, a term that had not yet been coined, and found herself in various situations where she was cowering on the floor terrified. Her parents were embarrassed by this behavior. She decides that she is going to throw a party for Rye’s return and finds out from his father that he is dead.

Frankie starts drinking and cannot get out of bed. Ethel and Barb come to save her. She gets a job at a hospital and is treated like she knows nothing. In the hospital, she performs an emergency tracheotomy and saves someone’s life, but is fired anyway.

She has a massive fight with her dad and destroys the Hero’s Wall. She accuses him of killing Finley and gets kicked out of the house. She gets into the car while drunk, and has a massive car accident and nearly kills someone. When she recovers, she goes to the VA hospital and is turned away. She is told she didn’t see combat and to forget about it and move on.

She calls Barbara and Ethel and moves to Ethel’s farm. Barb becomes an antiwar protestor and Frankie becomes a surgical nurse. All three live together on the farm. She and Barb start going to protests and to the Wives of Vets program.

When Frankie finds out her mom had a stroke from one of the women at the program, she immediately goes home. She and her dad reunite and he gives her a house. She helps her mom and meets Henry, a psychologist and the two begin a romance. When she gets pregnant, Henry is ecstatic and proposes immediately. Frankie says yes even though she doesn’t love him.

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The Women By Kristin Hannah Ending Explained (With Spoilers)

The war is declared over and Frankie finds out that Rye is alive he was a POW. She leaves to meet him at the plane and sees him run to his wife and child. This is how she finds out that he got married. She has a miscarriage and cancels the wedding.

She starts to become slightly obsessed and when she sees him at the beach, she decides to follow him. She is having a lot of trouble adjusting to her new reality and gets suspended from work. She gets hooked on pills and starts an affair with Rye who tells her he loves her and proposes. Barb gets married but Frankie is pre-occupied with the idea of Rye.

Frankie soon discovers that Rye has no intentions of leaving his wife- she has just had a baby. Frankie is so distraught that she drives drunk drives and almost kills someone. She realizes that she is addicted to pills and almost commits suicide when she hallucinates and wanders into the water following a vision of her brother. She wakes up in an ambulance with her father beside her. He saved her life and she realizes she needs help.

She is put in the psych ward for addiction where she explains that she went to the VA for help multiple times. Henry is in charge and promises to give her the help she needs to start her road to recovery.

Frankie finally is able to start healing and moves to Montana to help other Vietnam nurse veterans. When the DC memorial for Vietnam vets is finally created, Frankie goes for the memorial unveiling. She sees her parents there for Finley. Her dad acknowledges that she is a hero and apologizes for how he treated her.

Frankie looks over and sees Jamie! He still has the rock! He tells her “Remembering you got me through”. Jamie is no longer married and named his daughter Francis.

Cue the tears.

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The Women Book Club Questions (Spoilers)

  1. The book is called The Women and is about the unsung heroes of war. Why do you think women in wartime are so often overlooked?
  2. Were you surprised that Frankie made such an effort to enlist? (She was rejected twice)
  3. Why do you think it was so important for her to enlist?
  4. The Hero Wall was a parallel to Frankie’s journey. (Her picture was not included on the wall, she broke it down, before she was finally put on the wall). Discuss the significance of the wall.
  5. What do you think of the treatment of Vets coming home from Vietnam and do you think it has changed over the years?
  6. Ethel and Frankie were not together for very long in Vietnam and yet, their friendship spanned decades. What was it about the experience that cemented their friendship?
  7. Why do you think Frankie’s relationship with Barb and Ethel lasted for so many years after they got home?
  8. Both men that Frankie fell in love with in Vietnam were in relationships. Why do you think she chose unavailable men?
  9. If they had been single, do you think their relationships would have lasted when they got home?
  10. What is it about wartime that makes relationships so intense?
  11. Do you agree with what Frankie did to save the boy’s life (giving the emergency tracheotomy)? What, if anything, would you have done differently?
  12. What did you think of Frankie’s parents’ reaction to her war experience? What about their reactions after she got home?
  13. Let’s discuss the pregnancy. What did the pregnancy symbolize for Frankie? What do you think the grief of seeing Rye caused the miscarriage or was it the effects of Agent Orange?
  14. Were you surprised by the VA’s refusal to help Frankie?
  15. Henry had a huge role in saving her life. Why do you think she could not reciprocate his love?
  16. Ethel, Barb, and Frankie all spent time in Vietnam together. What do you think accounts for their very different reactions when they came home?
  17. Why do you think Frankie had such severe PTSD and the other two seemed to be able to move on with their lives?
  18. What did you think about Frankie’s parents coming to the war memorial dedication?
  19. How do you think their relationship will change moving forward?
  20. When Frankie overdoses and hallucinates, do you think she was trying to kill herself?
  21. Do you think Frankie and her father will be able to repair their relationship?
  22. History shows that the Vietnam War was a huge loss for the United States although the government did not ever state that. What do think about the news coverage of the war at that time and how do you think it would be different today, if at all?
  23. This is not the first time that Hannah has addressed PTSD (The Great Alone). Ernst’s response to the war is very different from Frankie’s. He was a doomsday prepper. Compare the two responses to surviving the war.
  24. Do you think that Frankie would have had such severe PTSD if she knew both men she loved were alive?
  25. If Frankie’s parents had been more accepting when she came home, how do you think her re-entry into society would have been different?
  26. Frankie creates a safe space for other women to come and heal. How do you think this contributed to her healing?
  27. Do you think you would have survived if you had been in Frankie’s place?
  28. How does the ranch parallel what Ethel and Barbara did for her earlier in the book?
  29. If you could change any part of The Women by Kirstin Hannah, what would it be?
  30. What do you think will happen in the epilogue of The Women by Kirstin Hannah?
  31. Did your view of war and veterans change after reading this book?

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Shop for The Women by Kristin Hannah

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Book Recommendations: What to Read After The Women by Kristin Hannah

absolution

Absolution by Alice McDermott

In this novel, Alice McDermott examines the lives of the American wives of commanding officers and businessmen living in Saigon during the Vietnam War. Tricia is our naive narrator who is learning the ins and outs of life in Saigon through Charlene, a beautiful, cunning, bully of a woman.

Charlene’s daughter has written to Trica asking for her recollections of her time with her mother. The story is written in letter format which makes it feel like an intimate tale told from a friend.

Why We Like It: I read this story after reading The Women and while that one covers the frontlines of battle, this perspective of the American Wives in Vietnam was completely different. It was almost as if these women were on holiday in comparison. It’s hard to believe it depicts the same time and place. #gifted by MacMillan Audio

Switchboard Soldiers

Switchboard Soldiers by Jennifer Chiaverini

I’ve been reading WWI books non-stop because I’m fascinated by the way modern warfare met traditional tactics in the Great War. I’m particularly interested in the role women played in helping the Allies.

Chiaverini brought the Switchboard soldiers (the women who operated the telephone lines) to life in the most interesting way. I loved their bonds of sisterhood, how they stayed cool under pressure, and learning just how crucial they were to the war effort.

Find this book in Book Club Books / Historical Fiction Books / Books Like Lessons in Chemistry.

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Code Name Hélène: A Novel by Ariel Lawson

I LOVED this book so much.  It is so beautifully written, amazingly researched, and absolutely enthralling.  This book is based on the life of Nancy Wake, a nurse and journalist who became a Special Operations Executive during WWII. ⁣

She was an amazing woman and I had never heard of her before this fictional biography.  It has wonderful characters, a fabulous story, romance, adventure, and the terrifying reality of life during WWII.

Like Frankie, Nancy Wake was a nurse and both women were brave women who fought for their countries during times of war. If you loved The Women by Kristin Hannah, You will love this book as well.

Find this book in Historical Fiction Books / Best Books for Book Clubs

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24 Thoughtful Lessons in Chemistry Book Club Questions

If you loved The Women by Kristin Hannah and are looking for more great books for your book club, check out this post.

Best Books for Book Clubs to Read in 2023

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Frequently Asked Questions about The Women by Kristin Hannah

Is The Women by Kristin Hannah Being Made into a Movie?

Yes! The Women by Kirstin Hannah was purchased by Warner Brothers. We have information beyond that. But we can tell you how excited we are to see this book on the big screen.

Is The Women by Kristin Hannah a good pick for my book club?

Absolutely. Your The Women Book Club will lead to deep and meaningful conversations about family, war, and more. Be sure to check out all 31 of our The Women Book Club Questions

Will you be using The Women book club questions for your next book club?

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