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

3.71 of 5 stars 3.71  ·  rating details  ·  247 ratings  ·  43 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...more
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published May 3rd 2005 by HarperOne (first published 2005)
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Karen
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
Ken
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
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...more
Timothy Bazzett
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
Lizzie
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...more
JoAnn/QuAppelle
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...more
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...more
Laura
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.
Cathy
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
Lesley
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.
Hollis
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'
Carol
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.
Peggy
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.
Su
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
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.
marymurtz
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.
Donna
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.
Greta
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.
Mum
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.
Janet
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.
Olivia
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.
Betsy
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.
Maureen
I really liked the portrayal of what life is like at home for a young mother (with abandoned dreams & ambitions) while her husband is at war. Vietnam era but good insights into the tight military world.

I felt the ending was true to the times.
zespri
Have enjoyed all Tim Farrington's books that i have read. very easy to read and learnt more about Vietnam War. mostly from the viewpoint of Lizzie's husband who describes conditions and head space well. Impact of war on those at home.
Kathleen
This was a quick grab off the library shelf I need a book to read choice. It was really good. Followed a married couple with the husband fighting in Vietnam. The story switched between both their perspectives. Really liked it.
Csuplick
This was very close to being a 5 star book....I'm stingy with my 5 star ratings. However, this book was brilliant. Some of the chapters from Mike's perspective could have been better, but all in all an excellent read.
Terresa
Descriptions of a soldier's life in the Vietnam war corresponding with his wife and children at home. Well written. The women's characters were very well done, I thought a woman had written the book!
Linda
I read this book quite awhile ago, and it's one of those on my list to re-read at some point. If I ever see a used copy of it somewhere, it would be one that I'd like for my home library.
Lela Gillow Buchanan
As a woman who does NOT enjoy war stories or conflict, "Lizzie's War" was the most readable and comprehensive profile of the Vietnam War I've read--both on the homefront and the frontlines.
Elysabeth
Wish I could give it 3.5. Good, solid novel from a talented writer. Wish there was more relationship building between the titular character and some of the friends mentioned.

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