Mrs. Lieutenant

A Women's Friendship Novel

Fiction - Womens
494 Pages
Reviewed on 03/15/2009
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Author Biography

This novel was inspired by my first nine weeks as a new Mrs. Lieutenant in the spring of 1970 right after the Kent State shootings.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Anne Boling for Readers' Favorite

The setting is 1970, Fort Knox, KY, the Vietnam era. Kim, Donna, Sharon and Wendy were unlikely friends. They had little in common. They came from diverse backgrounds and had very different personalities. Yet these four women join, sharing strength and support for each other. Their husbands are enrolled in nine weeks of officer training.

Sharon is an unlikely officer’s wife. She was protesting the war when she met her handsome husband. Wendy is a black woman. In the past, her parents sheltered her from racial prejudice; now she is forced to meet bigotry head on. Donna was an army brat. Kim’s husband is extremely jealous. Over a short nine weeks, their friendship grows.

Phyllis Zimbler Miller draws from her own experiences as a Mrs. Lieutenant and creates a fascinating tale of an era I well remember. It was an uncertain time with emotions drawn tight by the war. The officers’ wives served their country and citizens just as loyally as their husbands did. “It has been said that when a man acquits a commission the government has gained not one but two the officer and his wife.” Miller weaves the voices of each woman into alternating chapters. Miller is a talented writer. The title of this book hints at more books to come, I can only hope. Fans of history and drama will enjoyMrs. Lieutenant.


"Mrs. Lieutenant" presents the vivid, personal stories of four young wives as they learn to cope with military life, against the backdrop of America at war--both in Vietnam and at home--in 1970. The four "Mrs. Lieutenants" (they are defined by their husbands' roles) embark on their individual journeys into womanhood, providing us with an intimate, detailed perspective on one of our Nation's most dynamic, unsettling and influential eras.

T. Hoy

My older brother was at Kent State in 1970 so I well remember both the time and the temper of the nation then. I loved the excerpt and cannot wait to read more.
What a wonderful read, what a wonderful remembrance.

a librarian's daughter

The first few pages give a taste of what's to come in the lives of 4 women from different backgrounds who all end up at Fort Knox shortly after the Kent State shootings. Like all good appetizers, these few pages left me eagerly awaiting the main course.

C. Anderson

This novel is about four young army officers wives who meet when their husbands are all assigned training at Ft. Knox, Kentucky in the summer of 1970. They are very different women from very different backgrounds but the circumstances they find themselves in help them to draw together and form unique friendships that they would not have dreamed of in their pre-army life.

Sharon Gold is a Jewish girl from Illinois with a journalism background. She is an anti-war protester but couldn't resist falling in love with an ROTC cadet while she was at Michigan State.

Kim Benton is an orphan from North Carolina who, with her younger sister, was raised in foster care. She has no self-confidence and is married to a controlling, jealous young man.

Wendy Johnson is an African American from South Carolina whose father is a physician. She has been sheltered by her parents her whole life and has little idea of the amount of prejudice in the world.

Donna Lautenberg is Puerto Rican but has lived all over the world because her father is enlisted in the army. She is having trouble adjusting from enlisted life to different social strata of an officer.

These women are only together for nine weeks but in that time they experience situations and deal with issues that break down the barriers of race, religion and class to allow them to form bonds of friendship and trust. In that short time they all grow, change and learn important lessons.

It's a compelling story that seems so real it made me wonder how much is based on actual experiences. I'm looking forward to reading the next Sharon Gold novel!

N. C. Serozi

Firmly rooted in the era of the Vietnam War, Mrs. Miller has chosen a cross section of characters as a vehicle through which to explore the experiences of four young officer's wives. We can clearly see that adjustments will be required by these women in order to fit into their new roles. Mrs. Miller uses excerpts from a military manual entitled "Mrs. Lieutenant" (hence the title of the book) as she begins each new character introduction. Thus we see that there is an expectation for them to play by the rules and help their man. With the various cultural, geographic, educational, and religious backgrounds of these women, we sense that this journey will be both interesting and difficult. I look forward to reading more.

M. Robertson

A new way of looking at the Viet Nam war, through the eyes and experiences of military wives, women with seemingly nothing in common except saying goodbye, maybe forever, to the men they love. While the narrative gives us baby boomers specific reminders of those tumultuous and prejudiced 60s and the Viet Nam war years, the story has timeless application. After all, there have been Mrs. Lieutenants in every war, including the one raging now. And today, prejudices still separate us until something like war reminds us of our common humanity. I like the manner in which we're introduced to each character traveling unassumingly from her little corner of the country on her journey to Ft. Knox with her soldier man. And I especially like how Ms. Miller includes in each introduction some element of the 60s that suddenly comes alive again. Items like the Sunbeam coffee pot, stereos, albums and black and white tv seem so far gone, but then we realize it was not so long ago. Reading the passage about Kent State aroused the same outrage in me today as it did then, when I too was a student. Ms. Miller gives us a private, first hand peek inside the life of a military wife, and crosses racial, religious and cultural lines to bring these women together. In a broader sense, I believe this story will play out as one for all of us, about all of us; and that is what makes it compelling.

dr sweetscience

The most engaging aspect of this piece is the unique perspectives it illustrates. Vietnam as a subject of literature and popular entertainment usually falls into either category of service-record or protester's memoir. This story begins to add to the depth and the breadth of the era.
It feeds curiosity and understanding to learn how major events occupy the landscape of everyday life. The peril of soldiers at war is frequently analyzed, but not enough attention is given to the effect of war on civilian life. Or the lives of the civilians connected to conflict. It is very interesting to read about people who don't have the option of promoting or rejecting the war, but are bound by duty or fealty to have a role in it.

Susan Chodakiewitz

Mrs. Lieutenant is a moving portrayl of 4 women as they face their fears and prejudices as they enter their new life as officers wives. I enjoyed entering the world of these 4 completely different women, distinctly separate by race, religion,and life experience. Underlying all their differences is a commonality of hope -- hope for love, hope to keep their husbands out of harm's way and hope to find friendship. The characters are emotionally moving and the different points of view allow us to enter their four different worlds, feel their individual pain and joy, get an intimate look at four different cultures -- as different as night and day-- yet all American and compelled, even if not all willingly, to serve their country. A very important look into the lives of army wives and despite the uniqueness of the historical period, probably not much has actually changed for today's officer's wives. Thank you Phyllis Miller for tackling this important subject. A well crafted and emotional story. I'd love to read more!

Jane Biberman

I found Phyllis Miller's chapters intriguing and compelling. I like the way she sets up the action and her narrative style is detailed and engrossing. I look forward to reading the entire novel.

R. Tobias

In these first few pages the author gives a truly intimate look into the lives of these four women dealing with the major change of having their husbands preparing for the Vietnam War. The author also gives a vivid portrayal or women in the 70's. Looking forward to seeing the finished product.

Deborah A. Lott

Mrs. Lieutenant will take you back to the days of the Vietnam War. You'll follow four women struggling to adhere to the code for good wives provided by the Army's "Mrs. Lietenant" booklet. But those dictates is in conflict with their own growing doubts about the Vietnam War, and the stirrings of Feminism. This is luscious, engaging writing, rich with detail, and psychological verisimilitude. Once you've read the excerpt, you'll want to find out what happens in the rest of the book.

Barbra Kaye

Engaging introduction to four women as their husbands prepare for military service in Vietnam. Author Miller rightfully is giving us pause to reflect on families currently left behind by military service in Iraq.

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