Book Review & Giveaway ~ Mrs. Lieutenant


“They had their whole lives to look forward to if only their husbands could survive Vietnam.  In the spring of 1970…four newly married young women come together at Ft. Knox, Kentucky, when their husbands go active duty as officers in the U.S. Army.”

                                       A Sharon Gold Novel

I received the novel, “Mrs. Lieutenant” in the mail last week from the author Phyllis Zimbler Miller.  Thanks to Books on the Brain for recommending me as a reader/reviewer for this title.  I spent three days reading “Mrs. Lieutenant” from cover to cover and needless to say, I didn’t get much else done in that time.  The hubby was pretty impressed when I announced that I had finished it in such a short period of time and asked me what I thought. 

I really enjoyed “Mrs. Lieutenant”.  It’s a story of four very different women who find themselves in the same situation.  They are all married to active duty officers in the United States Army and the Vietnam War is raging overseas.  The possibility of their husbands having to report for duty in a distant land, where life and death is at stake, is highly probable and a reality that none of them want to face. 

Sharon, Donna, Kim & Wendy are from very different backgrounds and are very nervous about meeting people different from themselves.  Sharon is from Chicago (a northerner), Jewish and is strongly opposed to the Vietnam War.  Donna is a Puerto Rican Army brat married to a White man from the mid-west but has a secret.  Kim is the most naive of the four, having grown up in foster care with her younger sister in rural North Carolina.  She depends on her close-minded, jealous and hotheaded husband for everything.  Wendy is the daughter of a doctor, is from South Carolina and is African-American.  Her parents sheltered her her whole life and for the first time she is getting a taste of discrimination in northern Kentucky. 

After a rough start between them they get to know and depend on each other as friends and confidants.  They face many rough patches together and individually during their short stay at Ft. Knox where their husbands are in Army Officer Basic Training School.  They have to make decisions that will affect the rest of their lives. 

For the most part I really enjoyed this book.  The story drew me in and I felt a connection with the characters.  Though I am not a military spouse, I have become friends with many Marine wives and a couple of Air Force wives here on Okinawa.  Unfortunately I believe that many of the same limitations and challenges that faced the characters in the military of 1970 are still being faced by the military spouse today.  The fear of speaking up because it may cause a ripple and affect your husband’s job is still very real.  This is one problem that I do not face with my husband’s job and I have found myself face to face with a high-ranking officer’s wife, questioning her actions.  The common question among my friends was, “You did that?!”. 

The prejudices of 1970 were still very prevalent and at times it was uncomfortable to read the passages where tensions were raised.  The book was enjoyable and quick paced which I liked.  I had only one problem while reading and that was the distraction of how the author used present tense instead of past tense but that is just a personal preference.  After a while I felt like I was there in the story as an observer. 

I would recommend this book to anyone who is curious about the life of a military spouse.  “Mrs. Lieutenant” is very relevant in today’s world.  The military spouse faces fear of their loved one being deployed to the Middle East at a moments notice just as those women did during the Vietnam War.  I have a few friends who have deployed and since returned from both Iraq and Afghanistan and I spent every day worrying about their safety, not able to imagine the level of stress and constant worry that their families felt.  I will recommend “Mrs. Lieutenant” to my friends here in Okinawa and those who have since PCS’d (Permanent Change of Station aka moved), knowing that they would be able to relate to the stories of Sharon, Donna, Kim & Wendy.

{Rating – 4 out of 5} 


WIN IT: Phyllis Zimbler Miller is offering a signed copy of her novel, “Mrs. Lieutenant”, to one Planet Books reader. All readers with US, US military, and Canadian addresses are eligible.
To enter, just leave a comment here by Midnight EST on July 4th, either about this post (for example, tell us about your own “first day” as a spouse or soldier or about someone you know affiliated with the military) or about something you saw on Comments that simply say, “win” or “hello” will not be eligible.  The winner will be chosen at random by Planet Books.

A Little Baking and a Little Singing

Today has been a busy day in the kitchen for me.  One of my close friends here in Okinawa is taking the kids home for the summer and has asked me to make her some of Martha Stewart’s Coconut Cupcakes.  These cupcakes are simply AMAZING but are tricky to make.  There are a lot of big steps and things tend to get a bit messy.  Well, now I am exhausted but the cupcakes do look amazing.  I highly recommend making these delectable treats when you need a fancy cupcake to knock everyone’s socks off.  It has worked for me every time. 


Last night AFN started to air the new “Nashville Star”.  It began airing in the States last week on NBC.  Some of you know that I auditioned for this season via a video recording audition.  The U.S. Military and DOD employees and their dependants were allowed to submit a recorded video audition tape that was then compared against all other tapes from military installations all over the world.  This included ships, bases, and everything in between where eligible persons may be stationed. 

The hubby and I were settled in for two hours of prime singing entertainment because that is what we expect from this show and have been fans over the last few seasons that aired on USA Network.  Well, last night made us wonder just what about my video audition wasn’t good enough.  I will continue to watch as the new season goes forth this summer but as of the first night’s performances, there wasn’t much there. 

I’d like to share with you the two songs I cut when I did a demo in Nashville in 2002.  It’s hard to believe that it was that long ago because I can still smell the cedar lined recording studio nestled into the Brentwood, TN suburbs.  It was an amazing experience.  Karen Brandt\’s Demo Recording of \”Sorry\” & Karen Brandt\’s Demo Recording of \”You\’re Not Here To Miss You\”