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Lizzie's War: A Novel
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Lizzie's War: A Novel

3.73  ·  Rating Details  ·  303 Ratings  ·  51 Reviews
A stunning new novel from the author of the beloved The Monk Downstairs -- hailed by critics and readers alike as "captivating" and "enthralling" (Books & Culture) and "tender [and] witty" (New York Times Book Review).

Elizabeth O'Reilly, the wife of a career Marine Corps officer and mother of four children (with one on the way), finds herself at odds with just about ev
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published May 3rd 2005 by HarperOne (first published 2005)
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Sandra Hutchison
This lovely book is all about war. The most literal battles in it are waged by a seasoned officer in various harrowing scenarios in Vietnam, but there are also the spiritual battles of a Catholic priest with his calling, his own war history, and his attraction to a lonely parishioner. Most centrally, though, it's about the battle of tough-minded Lizzie to keep herself, her children, and other families around her from falling apart while their husbands are deployed, and sometimes even after they ...more
Julie Failla Earhart
Tim Farrington’s 2005 novel, Lizzie’s War, opens with a helluva first line: “Detroit was burning.” I was immediately pulled in to this story of two wars. Taking place between July 1967 and Labor Day 1968, the novel is reflective of the period. At home, riots are burning the country and in Vietnam, men are dying at an alarming rate in an unpopular war in an unforgiving country.

Captain Michael O’Reilly, USMC, has shipped out for Da Nang. His wife, Liz, is on her way to her parents with their four
Apr 02, 2014 Karen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really liked the characters in this book, and was invested in their journey's, however there were times when the book fell a little flat, and made me bored. The ending was also a little rushed and I felt that some of the stories were underdeveloped (view spoiler) ...more
Mar 28, 2016 Peggy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Farrington's ability to write inside the head of many disparate characters makes me green with envy. Ditto for his terrific dialogue.
I am so happy to have discovered this author and his talented writing.
Every character is finely drawn, realistically portrayed with warts and flaws included...ranging from a Marine under fire in Vietnam, his pregnant wife (Lizzie) and 4 kids left at home, and the local priest who is wrestling with his own demons.
The era, late Sixties, is beautifully rendered it all
Jul 20, 2012 Ken rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Tim Farrington’s novel, Lizzie’s War, focuses on married couple Lizzie and Mike O'Reilly and the wars that each are fighting. Set in 1967-68, the narrative centers on the title character, who raises her 4 kids while her husband is in Viet Nam, struggles with an unplanned pregnancy, and thinks about what it means to be married to someone so far away and the person she was before marriage and kids. Mike, her husband, fights in Viet Nam, while leading and trying to protect his men in a chaotic envi ...more
Timothy Bazzett
Mar 13, 2012 Timothy Bazzett rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read Lizzie's War a few years back now and thought I'd reviewed it then, but I guess I didn't. It is perhaps one of the few novels about the Vietnam War that shows both sides of a marriage affected by the war. Lizzie was the wife of a Marine officer deployed to Vietnam and the narrative has a kind of variable viewpoint. First you see what the husband is doing and enduring and then what the wife is doing and enduring. Their letters play a big role too, but not because of what they say, but rath ...more
Jun 23, 2009 Lizzie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read thtis book and cried at least three times. The author Tim Farrington is brilliant - I happen to be lucky enough to be a writing seminar he teaches. After reading this I started to listen more closely in class... Just kidding, I always yhought he was wooooonderful.
Introduce yourself to an amazingly funny while breaking your heart story about a military, catholic family facing distance, comunication, personal frustrations and the world everyday. It is a coming of age story, a family story a
Jun 25, 2008 JoAnn/QuAppelle rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the newest book by Tim Farrington, who wrote a book I really loved, "The Monk Downstairs". I liked this new book, just not quite as much as his other.

"Lizzie's War" is the story of Lizzie and Michael O'Reilly and takes place in 1968-69, during the Viet Nam War. He is a Marine officer who is in VN and she is at home in VA with three children, expecting a fourth. The story alternates between her life and his, and is an interesting juxtaposition. I think that Farrington does outstanding ch
Teresa Mizusawa

As a military wife myself I was able to identify with the characters in the story. I liked how the point of view would alternate between the battles in Vietnam and those at home. Many of the emotions described in the book are very real and applicable to any wife who put her dreams on hold and had to send her husband off to fight a war. Being a Marine Corps wife made much of the vernacular easier to understand, and appreciate. Mr. Farrington did a good job researching his story and making it bel
A very powerful book about the Vietnam War -- from perspectives of a husband/father fighting in Vietnam, the wife/mother trying to hold things together at home, their oldest (10 or 12 year old) son, and the priest at their church who previously had served as a priest in Vietnam.

I really enjoyed reading Mike's perspective, but after a while I just wanted to kick him for volunteering for the tour rather than staying home with his family.
I wanted to read about Lizzie and not the battlefield drama, so I scanned those parts of the book. It is, however, well done with good insights into people that is typical of Farrington's work. The story is heavier than his other novels and I shed a few tears, as there are numerous places to relate whatever your background.
Jun 14, 2013 Cathy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book. I liked the way the author told the story of this family, dad off in Vietnam and mom working to hold it together at home. I think the author's message was to capture the incredible difficulty of "keeping the home fires burning" (I can't imagine). He also tries to give you a peek into the mind of a duty bound soldier (agree or not). There are some very funny passages in this book, especially Mike's battlefield sarcasm in the face of horrific conditions. Alternatively, ...more
Gwen Veazey
Excellent writing and characterization. The juxtaposition of a Marine Captain's experiences in the thick of Vietnam fighting with the often war-like difficulties of his wife, a mother of four with one on the way, is very well done. The pro-military, antiabortion undercurrent just finally wore me down.
Mar 31, 2015 Susan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved it! Not only did the Vietnam war cause anguish, uncertainty and death, those at home had the same feelings and outcomes with marriage, family, loneliness. A great read not only for that generation of people but for all voracious readers.
Scottsdale Public Library
Refreshingly honest and shockingly perceptive as to the insights of some of the emotions that surround a deployment. It crosses the generational gap fom Vietnam to present as it shows the challenges that military spouse's face.
-- Tiffany M.
Feb 27, 2015 Emily rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is what real feels like. The emotions and thinking of the characters is what one would expect considering the issues addressed in this book. The only thing that seemed amiss was one of the characters stories just ended without a full explanation. Other than that the book was one of the better ones I have read in quite a while.
Very good. Really enjoyed.
May 04, 2011 Lesley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book reminded me strongly of "When We Were Soldiers". It tells the story of a military wife whose husband is fighting in Vietnam. It alternates between her story of trying to keep things together at home while she waits anxiously for letters from the front or that ominous knock on the door. I cried my way through the movie of "When We Were Soldiers" and wept while reading this book. There are also moments of humor though at times of the dark variety.
Jun 22, 2012 Hollis rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I picked this up at a used bookstore in San Fran because I didn't have a book and really enjoyed Farrington's previous books. Despite reading this all the way through, this one left me cold. It's about the wife of a marine during Vietnam and their shared stories. Perhaps I was too turned off by the whole topic and time or just couldn't relate to the gung-ho marine/catholic theme, but I never really 'cared'
Feb 18, 2011 Carol rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
He successfully gets inside a lot of human experience typically ignored/avoided/overlooked by authors. His main character is a young wife and mother whose husband goes to fight in Vietnam. I appreciated the author's exploration of both process and faith. I also enjoyed the Monk Downstairs and the Monk Upstairs by this author - they were fun reads, but maybe not the contribution this book is.
Jan 11, 2013 Peggy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: vietnam
Picked up this one because it is about the Vietnam War experience. Liked the shared narration, marine on the frontline, and wife holding down the homefront. Both facing life-changing battles.
Farrington's writing is simple. He includes some point-on descriptions of family life which add a light touch of humor. But I would not have stayed with it, were it not for the subject.
Oct 09, 2008 Su rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another really good book. The setting is 1967 and the Vietnam War is raging. Lizzie, the mother, is on the homefront, has four children and is pregnant with number 5. Husband Mike is in the dregs of Vietnam, and even after being wounded refuses to leave. As they come back together at the end of his tour or duty, they have to learn to respect the decisions that they each had made.
Tiffany Mathews
Mar 02, 2014 Tiffany Mathews rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Refreshingly honest and shockingly perceptive as to the insights of some of the emotions that surround a deployment - even across the generational gap from Vietnam to present.
Sep 05, 2010 marymurtz rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Such a well written book! Wonderfully evocative of its time between 1967 and 1968, alternating between Liz O'Reilly and her four children who live stateside, and her husband, who is a Marine Officer in Vietnam. Their parallel "wars" and battle scars and trauma are heartbreaking, funny, revealing, and such a fascinating window into that time and place. Very well done.
Aug 22, 2009 Donna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this a few weeks ago, but have been unable to decide just how to rate or review it. I went with four stars because I found it honest, poignant (not a literary quality, I suppose) and I loved or hated the characters equally well. It worked, in other words. If you either grew up in the Vietnam era or have heard stories, here is another one to take you there.
Jul 01, 2009 Greta rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Of course there were some parts that I could have done without. However, it's a book about war so it would have been lacking without some references. It was interesting to see the point-of-view of a wife/mother left home with her kids while her husband is at war. I was entertained and read it quickly. Those are my biggest requirements.
The author said that this book was about careers based on faith: parenting, soldiering, religion and marriage. It was a wonderful story even not thinking about these things, but the added depth made it a must-read. It is reasonably accurate in terms of the 60's, and fortunately stayed away from the California issues.
Aug 27, 2013 Janet rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My appreciation for this story and its honest, believable characters was enhanced by my own memories of 1967-68. It was a simpler time and place, in spite of the war and riots on the nightly news. We didn't know then how Vietnam would change us and the country, and I think the author was wise to keep hindsight out.
Jul 24, 2010 Olivia added it
This was my first book by this author but I want to read more very soon - other books of this include The Monk Downstairs, Blues for Hannah and The California Book of the Dead.

This book was a tearjerker - absolutely lovely writing - the battle scenes were very clear and understandable.
Nov 14, 2008 Betsy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-i-own
How, I ask you, HOW is this man not a bestselling author? This book was brilliant, even allowing for the fact that I inexplicably love Vietnam fiction. It's heart-rending without being maudlin, beautifully written and even funny. Highly, highly recommended.
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