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.

My War…

I have been scouring the web for any type of reading guide for the Jan/Feb reading selection, “My War ~ Killing Time In Iraq” by Colby Buzzell and have had little luck.  I did come across a review by Matthew Hill at the University of Maryland  as well as a great article from The New York Times called The Hemmingway Effect which discusses the troops turned writers due to their experiences in war.  Colby Buzzell himself is now a columnist for Esquire Magazine .  He’s got one article titled “The Best Years of Our Lives” which was an interesting read about life after deployment and the Army and looking at life now. 

I enjoyed this book and feel that it gave me a little more insight on the experiences going on in Iraq.  I liked reading about the day to day stuff that the troops do and the dangers that their lives entail while carrying out the “War on Terror”.  I know that it’s been a while since you finished this book but please reiterate your opinion on this book and what you took from it. 

I will be posting the new voting poll this weekend for the March/April title so be sure to check back here soon.