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For the Colleys of southeastern Missouri, the War between the States is a plague that threatens devastation, despite the family's avowed neutrality. For eighteen-year-old Adair Colley, it is a nightmare that tears apart her family and forces her and her sisters to flee. The treachery of a fellow traveler, however, brings about her arrest, and she is caged with the criminal For the Colleys of southeastern Missouri, the War between the States is a plague that threatens devastation, despite the family's avowed neutrality. For eighteen-year-old Adair Colley, it is a nightmare that tears apart her family and forces her and her sisters to flee. The treachery of a fellow traveler, however, brings about her arrest, and she is caged with the criminal and deranged in a filthy women's prison. But young Adair finds that love can live even in a place of horror and despair. Her interrogator, a Union major, falls in love with her and vows to return for her when the fighting is over. Before he leaves for battle, he bestows upon her a precious gift: freedom. Now an escaped "enemy woman," Adair must make her harrowing way south buoyed by a promise...seeking a home and a family that may be nothing more than a memory.


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For the Colleys of southeastern Missouri, the War between the States is a plague that threatens devastation, despite the family's avowed neutrality. For eighteen-year-old Adair Colley, it is a nightmare that tears apart her family and forces her and her sisters to flee. The treachery of a fellow traveler, however, brings about her arrest, and she is caged with the criminal For the Colleys of southeastern Missouri, the War between the States is a plague that threatens devastation, despite the family's avowed neutrality. For eighteen-year-old Adair Colley, it is a nightmare that tears apart her family and forces her and her sisters to flee. The treachery of a fellow traveler, however, brings about her arrest, and she is caged with the criminal and deranged in a filthy women's prison. But young Adair finds that love can live even in a place of horror and despair. Her interrogator, a Union major, falls in love with her and vows to return for her when the fighting is over. Before he leaves for battle, he bestows upon her a precious gift: freedom. Now an escaped "enemy woman," Adair must make her harrowing way south buoyed by a promise...seeking a home and a family that may be nothing more than a memory.

30 review for Enemy Women

  1. 5 out of 5

    Linda

    "I myself have asked old women for what they knew, and the old women at that time remembered things from old women they had known and so on until the beginning of the world. What they knew didn't always please me." And what they knew, was and is, bold, in your face, cold and cutting truth. Enemy Women is a travelogue so to speak of the deep-set footprints of Adair Colley. The Colley family owned a clapboard home and barn in southeastern Missouri during the Civil War. A fiery torch in the hands of "I myself have asked old women for what they knew, and the old women at that time remembered things from old women they had known and so on until the beginning of the world. What they knew didn't always please me." And what they knew, was and is, bold, in your face, cold and cutting truth. Enemy Women is a travelogue so to speak of the deep-set footprints of Adair Colley. The Colley family owned a clapboard home and barn in southeastern Missouri during the Civil War. A fiery torch in the hands of the Union Militia sets fire to the homestead and the flames continue to scorch endlessly into the lives of Adair, her brother, and her sisters. John Lee takes to the hills to hide and the three sisters form a caravan of escape as they hit the road with only the clothes on their backs. Adair is falsely accused of passing on information to the enemy and is sent by train to a women's prison in St. Louis. The overcrowded train car is packed with women who share Adair's fate. Women, in truth, were gathered up under martial law by the enforcing Militia under dubious circumstances. "She wiped the tears from her face again, they seemed to flow of their own accord." Although Adair's health begins to fade while imprisoned, her resilience and fortitude remain. She is determined to make it back home to the charred wreckage of their homestead. What transpires throughout the story is the depth of tragic cruelty and devastation left by war. Paulette Jiles uses insets of actual letters, diary logs, and historical military records to emphasize the impact of an American society that completely lost its way on both sides. The clawed fingermarks of desperation and bared remnants of survival emerge to the surface and leave you with such heaviness. Jiles presents battle scenes told in such vivid detail with soldier against soldier. But she best showcases the steely backbone of women who indured unspeakable hardships as well. They wore no uniforms but the torn and tattered cotton gowns stained with daily life in a war-torn country that no longer was recognizable. Although a work of fiction, those insets were true documentations. Fiction housed the story, but the scaffolding was pure truth and realism. Jiles has a remarkable storytelling ability and her eloquent prose befits the unraveling ribbon of Adair's life within the time period. I highly recommend Enemy Women for those who treasure historical fiction. But Enemy Women steps out into a wider scope of thought for all those who embrace truth.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Liz

    I continue to be a fan of Jiles’ work. Enemy Women is the third of hers that I’ve read and the third one that has essentially transported me to another place and time. This time back to the brutal and chaotic period of the Civil War, a time that I feel fortunate not to have endured. Adair Colley and her family live in Missouri, a state divided between the Secessionist and Union causes, resulting in almost constant skirmishes throughout most of the state during the war. It also meant that citizen I continue to be a fan of Jiles’ work. Enemy Women is the third of hers that I’ve read and the third one that has essentially transported me to another place and time. This time back to the brutal and chaotic period of the Civil War, a time that I feel fortunate not to have endured. Adair Colley and her family live in Missouri, a state divided between the Secessionist and Union causes, resulting in almost constant skirmishes throughout most of the state during the war. It also meant that citizens were vulnerable to both Union and Confederate militias, both of which often murdered, thieved, and burned whatever they came across. When Adair is falsely denounced as a rebel sympathizer and thrown into a Union prison for women, this after watching her father being beaten and dragged away, it is only the beginning of her story of survival. To me it’s the almost poetic passages which also manage to stay honest and uncluttered, that give this story its heart. As I traveled through the countryside with Adair, I loved what she loved and feared what she feared. One particular scene in this book actually made me not just cry, but burst into sudden tears, so arrested was I by her travails. This girl… everything she knew had been taken from her. Her father, her sisters, horse, home, freedom, and health. What I appreciated most was that her mind was her most effective weapon. Adair is quick, she’s smart, she’s resilient, and therefore she’s a survivor. Hers is a superb and inspiring characterization. Jiles does not tell her stories at a rousing or adventurous tempo, instead she keeps the narrative at a slower, more reflective pace, allowing the reader be immersed in her expressive language and be… what was that word I used? Ah yes – transported.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Ron Charles

    Civil is the last thing you'd call the War Between the States. From 1861 to 1865, more Americans died at the hands of their fellow citizens than have been killed in all subsequent combat abroad. Even by modern standards of carnage, the hallowed battles at Antietam and Gettysburg still sound unimaginably deadly. But those epics reverberate only in the background of "Enemy Women," Paulette Jiles's debut novel about the Civil War. Her tale skirts along the border of history, the bloody footnotes of Civil is the last thing you'd call the War Between the States. From 1861 to 1865, more Americans died at the hands of their fellow citizens than have been killed in all subsequent combat abroad. Even by modern standards of carnage, the hallowed battles at Antietam and Gettysburg still sound unimaginably deadly. But those epics reverberate only in the background of "Enemy Women," Paulette Jiles's debut novel about the Civil War. Her tale skirts along the border of history, the bloody footnotes of violence across southeastern Missouri. A nominal slave state that never seceded, Missouri played reluctant host to Confederate and Union militias that stormed through the Ozarks in a reign of terror that knew no discipline or mercy. In a climate where neutrality was not tolerated, poor farming families found themselves harassed by thieves and murderers who felt legitimized by impromptu uniforms and homemade flags. Jiles's story follows the alarmingly common tragedy of Adair Colley, an 18-year-old girl. Since the death of their mother, the Colley children and their father have struggled with some success to keep their humble farm running. Like the vast majority of Missourians, they own no slaves. They pursue no political opinions beyond wanting to. . . . To read the rest of this review, go to The Christian Science Monitor: https://www.csmonitor.com/2002/0221/p...

  4. 5 out of 5

    Kd

    Awesome book made even better by primary source material from the period at the beginning of each chapter. This book made war so real and common in the lives of the little people, ie. not soldiers and armies but the ones living on and near the battlefields. I often forget that war rages across homes, not just nameless acres inhabited by no one. This is one of the few wars fought across our American homeland, and we need to remember the little things, like pictures, favorite cooking utensils, and Awesome book made even better by primary source material from the period at the beginning of each chapter. This book made war so real and common in the lives of the little people, ie. not soldiers and armies but the ones living on and near the battlefields. I often forget that war rages across homes, not just nameless acres inhabited by no one. This is one of the few wars fought across our American homeland, and we need to remember the little things, like pictures, favorite cooking utensils, and clothing that have to be abandoned. The heroine states a truth about her devastateded home in Missouri. She..."had learned the specific gravity of possessions, and how they weighed a person down."

  5. 5 out of 5

    Laurie Notaro

    I always feel like I've won the lottery when I read a really fantastic book; almost as if I've encountered a lucky streak or I've been let into an ultra-secret club. On the flip side, it makes me a bit perturbed that all books aren't this good, and angry that I've wasted any time reading something that isn't up to the standards of AWESOME BOOK. Enemy Women sat on my bookshelf since it was published, almost 13 years ago. It was always somewhere near the top of my reading list, but somehow always I always feel like I've won the lottery when I read a really fantastic book; almost as if I've encountered a lucky streak or I've been let into an ultra-secret club. On the flip side, it makes me a bit perturbed that all books aren't this good, and angry that I've wasted any time reading something that isn't up to the standards of AWESOME BOOK. Enemy Women sat on my bookshelf since it was published, almost 13 years ago. It was always somewhere near the top of my reading list, but somehow always got pushed down a notch or a few of them. Finally, after reading Karen Abbott's Liar Temptress Soldier Spy, I figured that while I was immersed in the Civil War, I should finally pick up Enemy Women, and what a wonderful companion piece it was. This book is no-nonsense, unsentimental, to the point with no time to mess around. I loved it. In a nutshell: A 17-year old girl and her sisters set off to find their father, who had been taken from their Missouri farm by Union Militia (I knew nothing of the Union Militia until LTSS)--she is arrested for conspiring with the enemy, is sent to prison and I'll leave the rest a mystery. Written economically and very streamlined, the book itself is an embodiment of the main character, Adair, and perfectly reflects her bravery, stalwartness and drive. Ok, no quotation marks are used throughout the whole book, but if you can't figure out when a character is speaking, better stick with Twilight. Great book. Ashamed it sat on my shelf for so long, but this really was the perfect time to read it.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Phyllis

    4.5 stars for this book by Paulette Jiles. Missouri during the civil war and Adair Copley's family has declared itself neutral in the war. Their house is set on fire, their possessions are stolen and their father is beaten and hauled off to prison by the Union militia. Adair and her two younger sisters start walking in the direction their father was headed. The book follows Adair and what happens to her over the next year. I think the writing is superb. You not only see what is going on but you 4.5 stars for this book by Paulette Jiles. Missouri during the civil war and Adair Copley's family has declared itself neutral in the war. Their house is set on fire, their possessions are stolen and their father is beaten and hauled off to prison by the Union militia. Adair and her two younger sisters start walking in the direction their father was headed. The book follows Adair and what happens to her over the next year. I think the writing is superb. You not only see what is going on but you can also feel it. "What held the civilized world together was the thinnest tissue of nothing but human will. Civilization was not in the natural order but was some sort of willed invention held taut like a fabric or a sail against the chaos of the winds. And why we had invented it, was beyond him."

  7. 5 out of 5

    Julie

    Reading Road Trip 2020 Current location: Missouri . . . she had thought of herself as a person who wonderful things would happen to because she was uncommon and marked apart. That a clear light burned inside of her that nothing could extinguish and it would always illuminate her way. That then before the war she had held this light between her hands. . . and that no wind would ever put it out.. A friend of mine, who is perpetually searching for signs of the Apocalypse, declared to me last week, “ Reading Road Trip 2020 Current location: Missouri . . . she had thought of herself as a person who wonderful things would happen to because she was uncommon and marked apart. That a clear light burned inside of her that nothing could extinguish and it would always illuminate her way. That then before the war she had held this light between her hands. . . and that no wind would ever put it out.. A friend of mine, who is perpetually searching for signs of the Apocalypse, declared to me last week, “the times have NEVER been like this before.” I told her I respectfully disagreed. She was smiling, as breathless as a new bride, with anticipation over the End of Days, but I should have just started singing a few bars of Carly Simon to her, “nothing stays the same, but if you're willing to play the game, it's coming around again.” Because, even though we forget, even though we think our suffering is original or is coming to an end, it's all just coming around again. Suffering. Coming around again. Paulette Jiles knew this, when she published this novel in 2002. She knew that if she went back and told a story set in 1864, the suffering would be just as applicable then as always. And, it turns out, the suffering in 1864 Missouri, in the last year of the American Civil War, could produce a level of pain and injustice that could make your current discomfort seem pale in comparison. This is my first experience of Paulette Jiles, and, I promise you, it will not be my last. For me, she is a truly unique writer, a woman who managed to depict a Civil War from 150 years ago as a modern Apocalypse. She creates a colorful dystopia in a landscape that we've all come to think of as dated, black and white. In a word: Wow. Ms. Jiles grabbed ahold of my hair, threw me up onto a saddled horse, and then kicked the bay gelding on the ass. I have been off and running on a page-turning and intestine clenching story, burning the midnight oil in my lantern, every night this week. I felt elements of Charles Frazier, Larry McMurtry, and Cormac McCarthy here, and, at the same time, I experienced a twisted, sizzling originality in a novel that never fell back on territory that was already explored. I am entranced by Ms. Jiles's writing, and I am madly in love now with Adair Colley. If ever we needed a hero, here she is: a horsewoman on a saddle, the ultimate survivor. What held the civilized world together was the thinnest tissue of nothing but human will.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jeanette

    Such a great story/ tale of survival, but I was rather disappointed on a whole. I did read the entire and enjoyed the historical context immensely. I had little knowledge of that specific area of SE Missouri and the turnovers of "sets" of danger that occurred near the end of the Civil War there. Brutality and consequence across the boards, it seems, because of loyalty or non-loyalty to consistently changing occupations. And some of the biggest losers being homesteaders. It's the characters in th Such a great story/ tale of survival, but I was rather disappointed on a whole. I did read the entire and enjoyed the historical context immensely. I had little knowledge of that specific area of SE Missouri and the turnovers of "sets" of danger that occurred near the end of the Civil War there. Brutality and consequence across the boards, it seems, because of loyalty or non-loyalty to consistently changing occupations. And some of the biggest losers being homesteaders. It's the characters in this one that just fell flat. The writing did not give them emotional depth or consciousness of inner thoughts. And I can't tell you why it was other than that, but I just could not connect to our heroine Adair. If I could have become more invested in the characterizations of the principles, I would have liked the entire book much more. I must add that this novel deserves a 4 star level on my truth scale for not revising 1864 values and culture for those of 100 or 150 years later. For instance, her brother meeting his siblings in such dire circumstances, still proceeds to leave them almost immediately for the further fight. It doesn't even occur to him for a second to stay and protect the traveling youngsters. That's the way it was.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Leah Beecher

    Read this book last month. Really loved it, once I got a handle on it. This book's author is a published poet. I think this is her first novel. She did not use any quotation marks, which when you are so used to spotting them to let you know: hey now the characters are talking, gets you a little off balance on that first chapter. Just concentrate and you'll get used to it soon. It is a historical fiction that relates how southern women were treated during the civil war. In particular southern women Read this book last month. Really loved it, once I got a handle on it. This book's author is a published poet. I think this is her first novel. She did not use any quotation marks, which when you are so used to spotting them to let you know: hey now the characters are talking, gets you a little off balance on that first chapter. Just concentrate and you'll get used to it soon. It is a historical fiction that relates how southern women were treated during the civil war. In particular southern women who were suspected of aiding or sympathizing with Yankees, and then thrown in jail. These women were known as enemy women. The author clearly did her homework searching civil war archives, as each chapter begins with a short exert of actual correspondence written during the civil war, that then serve as a informational back ground to the next chapter. The story, sometimes violent and heartbreaking is told with a light touch, as the story of Adair unfolds. Brutal violence, a fiery funny heroine,a plot full of action, and then to top it all off a passionate love story. However this talented author uses no gory descriptions of organs spilling out, no over the top dramatic plots, or a heroine that is easy to figure out. It has a pretty moving and sometimes sensual story of a man desiring and falling in love with a women, without succumbing to being pornographic. I loved the dialogue between Adair and "the Major" in whom she repeatedly insults and makes infuriating sarcastic remarks to {my kind of girl}. I also learned quite a bit about the history of Missouri during the civil war that was considered a confederate state, even though most residents did not own slaves and tried to stay neutral. A high recommendation for historical junkies, suckers for a love story, or anyone who really enjoys beautiful lyrical writing. I like all three, and that is why I gave it a 5 star-er.

  10. 5 out of 5

    tiasreads

    I really wanted to like this book. I usually enjoy Civil War stories & I have visited that section of Missouri (my grandparents share the same birthplace with the author and still live there), so I could picture it in my mind. But this book was awful! The author gave none of the characters' background, and no insight into what was going on mentally and emotionally. Because of this, there was no connection with them; I gave up searching for a reason to care about them at page 70. The thing that bo I really wanted to like this book. I usually enjoy Civil War stories & I have visited that section of Missouri (my grandparents share the same birthplace with the author and still live there), so I could picture it in my mind. But this book was awful! The author gave none of the characters' background, and no insight into what was going on mentally and emotionally. Because of this, there was no connection with them; I gave up searching for a reason to care about them at page 70. The thing that bothered me most about this book, though, was the pretentious way it was written. Many sentences were short, incomplete thoughts. The dialogue was not put in quotation marks, so it was hard to distinguish it from the narrative. This seemed like the smug little gimmick of an author trying too hard for the critics to call her "ground-breaking" or some other overused moniker. It was a good concept that was badly executed and I will not be seeking out other works by this author.

  11. 5 out of 5

    LibraryCin

    2.75 stars In the Ozark Mountains, the American Civil War is happening. 18-year old Adair's home is set on fire, the family's horses stolen, and her father taken away. Adair leaves with her two younger sisters. She wants to find her dad and her horses and bring them back home. Along the way, however, under martial law, she is arrested and taken away from her sisters. It took me a really long time to get into this book. I only got more interested in the last third of the book, or so (maybe because 2.75 stars In the Ozark Mountains, the American Civil War is happening. 18-year old Adair's home is set on fire, the family's horses stolen, and her father taken away. Adair leaves with her two younger sisters. She wants to find her dad and her horses and bring them back home. Along the way, however, under martial law, she is arrested and taken away from her sisters. It took me a really long time to get into this book. I only got more interested in the last third of the book, or so (maybe because there was more focus on horses/animals at that point?). There were parts here and there earlier on that tweaked a bit of interest, but not enough. When I finally got into it, I actually did like it, but it just took way too long for that. I'm not a fan of quotes at the start of the chapters and this one has 2-4 quotes at the start of each one, taking up a full page most times! I guess the good news was that it made it faster to read because I skipped over them altogether (after the first couple of chapters). Something else that bugged me at the start (though I did get used to it, and I know sometimes books do this), was the lack of quotation marks when someone was speaking. Overall, I'm rating it just under “o.k.” (which for me, is 3 stars). The last third of the book really brought that rating up.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jacqueline Masumian

    Another remarkable novel by Paulette Jiles (News of the World), this story takes place in the final year of the American Civil War and is told from a very unusual perspective. Eighteen-year-old Adair Colley is rendered homeless and without family by the rapacious Union militia on their rampage through the southeastern Missouri hills. While searching for her father and brother, Adair is captured and thrown into a St. Louis prison as a traitor to the Union. The conditions are grim, but, with the h Another remarkable novel by Paulette Jiles (News of the World), this story takes place in the final year of the American Civil War and is told from a very unusual perspective. Eighteen-year-old Adair Colley is rendered homeless and without family by the rapacious Union militia on their rampage through the southeastern Missouri hills. While searching for her father and brother, Adair is captured and thrown into a St. Louis prison as a traitor to the Union. The conditions are grim, but, with the help of a young Union officer, she escapes. Thus begins her long journey home on foot, suffering from consumption and with little in the way of possessions, provisions, or money. This journey, vivid with colorful characters she meets along the way, is the crux of the novel. Her determination to make it home is profound. The novel is unusual in that the fictional story is interspersed at the beginning of every chapter with true of accounts of Civil War brutality, in the form or letters, Union journals, and other historical documents. These provide a double voice to the narrative and lend an authenticity that the fictional story itself might not have provided. By all accounts, women in the Civil War, especially Southern women, were treated very badly, and whole families were destroyed. The character of Adair is fascinating. On the surface outspoken and rough around the edges, she proves to be cunning and ruthless when it comes to escaping danger and finding her family. While the book does leave some loose plot ends, it is a new telling of Civil War strife, in a very original voice.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Elinor

    I was tempted to deduct one-half star only because I didn't enjoy this book quite as much as the first novel I read by this author, News of the World, but that didn't seem quite fair! She is a brilliant writer and the sense of time and place is so strong that wondered how she knew all of those details without going back in a time machine. That's the power of research, I guess. There is much brutality and bloodshed in this novel about the Civil War -- anyone who thinks we are living in troubled t I was tempted to deduct one-half star only because I didn't enjoy this book quite as much as the first novel I read by this author, News of the World, but that didn't seem quite fair! She is a brilliant writer and the sense of time and place is so strong that wondered how she knew all of those details without going back in a time machine. That's the power of research, I guess. There is much brutality and bloodshed in this novel about the Civil War -- anyone who thinks we are living in troubled times needs to look back into history and see how relatively easy we have it now. Towards the end of the war, Union soldiers were rampaging through the conquered south, and the civilians were fighting back tooth and claw using guerrilla warfare. Primarily, this is a love story, although most of the action takes place during a long journey through the dangerous wilderness. Adding to the authenticity were excerpts taken from real Civil War documents and letters. This is a brilliant work of historical fiction, and a great read.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Judy

    Written by the same author as "News of the World," which I loved, this book is also the telling of a journey -- this time by a young woman from southeast Missouri (where loyalties during the Civil War are fluid, to say the least) who is taken prisoner and jailed in St. Louis. The journey takes place after her escape from jail (with the help of the Union Major whom she has fallen in love with), traveling home in the hope of finding her father and rejoining the man she loves. I LOVED it! Adair is a Written by the same author as "News of the World," which I loved, this book is also the telling of a journey -- this time by a young woman from southeast Missouri (where loyalties during the Civil War are fluid, to say the least) who is taken prisoner and jailed in St. Louis. The journey takes place after her escape from jail (with the help of the Union Major whom she has fallen in love with), traveling home in the hope of finding her father and rejoining the man she loves. I LOVED it! Adair is a strong and focused young woman who is extremely resourceful on this trip home, avoiding men in general (she's a woman alone in the 19th century on the edges of civilization, so she has to be careful), and soldiers or militia members in particular. It seems everyone wants something from her, while her wishes are simple -- something to eat, and a safe place to sleep before she moves on. I especially loved her relationship with the horses who accompany her. The author obviously knows a lot about horses -- how they think, how they move -- and loves them as Adair does (and I do). This book gets a rare five stars from me. It's a winner.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    This is a story about a young lady during the civil war. Her father is taken, the house is burned, the horses stolen, family scattered and she ends up in a female prison in Missouri. I guess that is enough to keep a reader interested. But here's why I liked it: it's from the Southern perspective (it's not just the winners who write history) but it's not the cliche and stereotypical south. It's really the story of civilian collateral damage as they try to survive the war. There are no safe places This is a story about a young lady during the civil war. Her father is taken, the house is burned, the horses stolen, family scattered and she ends up in a female prison in Missouri. I guess that is enough to keep a reader interested. But here's why I liked it: it's from the Southern perspective (it's not just the winners who write history) but it's not the cliche and stereotypical south. It's really the story of civilian collateral damage as they try to survive the war. There are no safe places, especially for a young solo woman, and soldiers on all sides take full advantage of plundering. The only people who seem somewhat happy are the freed slaves, who have dealt with much worse circumstances. The story moves at a brisk pace and is unsentimental. Each chapter starts with actual letters written during the war which show the chaos and lawlessness. A fast and powerful read.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Roxy

    It's hard for me to believe that this is Jiles' first book. I started with her latest, News of the World, and went backwards chronologically, and was never disappointed. But this is so beautifully and tragically told, and I literally held my breath a few times, and raced through some pages, and dawdled over others. At the last page, I let out a long breath that I hadn't known I was holding in - oh my...

  17. 5 out of 5

    Alesa

    War is hell. Any war. And it's just as awful for innocent civilians as soldiers. That's the basic premise of this perfect book. I've read it twice now, and still find it to be perfect. Not happy. Not fun. But stunning in its portrayal of an ordinary woman trapped by forces she doesn't even understand during the Civil War. Adair is 18 when Southern militias destroy her family home in Missouri. While fleeing, she is falsely accused of being a traitor, and imprisoned by the Union forces in St. Louis. War is hell. Any war. And it's just as awful for innocent civilians as soldiers. That's the basic premise of this perfect book. I've read it twice now, and still find it to be perfect. Not happy. Not fun. But stunning in its portrayal of an ordinary woman trapped by forces she doesn't even understand during the Civil War. Adair is 18 when Southern militias destroy her family home in Missouri. While fleeing, she is falsely accused of being a traitor, and imprisoned by the Union forces in St. Louis. Then she escapes and struggles to find her way back home through the wilderness. In this latter portion of the plot, the story resembles "Cold Mountain" (another favorite). This book confronts us with many important ideas. What it feels like to lose absolutely everything, including health, and still find the will to survive. How society totally falls apart during war, and everybody is simply out for themselves. How things like honor and dignity and truthfulness are sacrificed for mere survival. I loved the portrayal of mountain life in the 1860's, and its practicality. The main character is sassy and (this could be considered a flaw in the novel, I suppose) rather modern in her outspokenness and refusal to play a traditional female role. She is really, really brave and industrious. The ending is totally gratifying, tying together various loose ends while still feeling plausible. The book leaves the reader with a humble appreciation for a warm home, nourishing food, good health and a country at peace. And it also illustrates the utter futility of war. As the song goes, "When will we ever learn...?" One more comment. At two different points in the story, a woman remarks that to get married is to embark on a lifetime of constant work, morning noon and night. I found this to be slightly anachronistic. After all, women then had few other options than marriage. And men, too, worked almost constantly. But the comment stuck with me as an interesting one, for that era. In Jamaica, I once saw a plaque in a kitchen saying, "A man may toil from sun to sun, but a woman's work is never done." Hmmm...

  18. 5 out of 5

    Irene

    This historical fiction covered an aspect of the Civil War that I haven’t encountered frequently, the brutality endured by civilians living on the western region of the country. Excerpts from actual primary documents begin each chapter convincing the reader of the author’s research and the authenticity of the fictional scenario. The book opens with a group of Union militia attacking the home of the small town school master and his 4 children. The man is brutally beaten and taken captive, the pro This historical fiction covered an aspect of the Civil War that I haven’t encountered frequently, the brutality endured by civilians living on the western region of the country. Excerpts from actual primary documents begin each chapter convincing the reader of the author’s research and the authenticity of the fictional scenario. The book opens with a group of Union militia attacking the home of the small town school master and his 4 children. The man is brutally beaten and taken captive, the property is looted and destroyed, the livestock stolen, the daughters injured. The rest of the novel follows the oldest daughter as she tries to find her father, is herself held captive and eventually travels alone the length of the state of Missouri outwitting various villains. I am not sure why I struggled to become immersed in this book. Maybe it is simply that the pressures of this time of year has me distracted, maybe my expectations were unreasonable having loved “News of the World”, maybe plunging me immediately into this young heroin’s extraordinary courage, spunk and resourcefulness did not give me enough time to get to know her, maybe…. For whatever reason, this turned out to be a decent but not a great book for me. 3.5 stars

  19. 4 out of 5

    Candace

    This was SUCH a good read! The story was well plotted and written and the characters well drawn. Each chapter began with historical quotes collected by, well, historians 🙂 from people who were eye witnesses to the Civil War, or by those who shared memories handed down from their ancestors, with occasional news articles about the war as it happened. In addition to all that goodness, the author’s research was obviously extensive and meticulous. Her depiction of battle scenes put you there, hearing This was SUCH a good read! The story was well plotted and written and the characters well drawn. Each chapter began with historical quotes collected by, well, historians 🙂 from people who were eye witnesses to the Civil War, or by those who shared memories handed down from their ancestors, with occasional news articles about the war as it happened. In addition to all that goodness, the author’s research was obviously extensive and meticulous. Her depiction of battle scenes put you there, hearing cannon boom, feeling the ground shake, and smelling the smoke. Her research into medical practices at the time, especially by “steam doctors,” was fascinating. Annnnnd, it was a love story!

  20. 5 out of 5

    Lizpeveto

    Read for a book discussion group. Excellent book. Having been to MO, I was aware of how many Civil War battles were fought in the state. The descriptions of the political complications for both Union and Confederate is what makes the story personal because it details how it impacts individuals, disrupts families, whole communities and the breakdown of social order. It was so difficult for friends and neighbors as half were Confederate and half were Union and sometimes there was no choice. If you Read for a book discussion group. Excellent book. Having been to MO, I was aware of how many Civil War battles were fought in the state. The descriptions of the political complications for both Union and Confederate is what makes the story personal because it details how it impacts individuals, disrupts families, whole communities and the breakdown of social order. It was so difficult for friends and neighbors as half were Confederate and half were Union and sometimes there was no choice. If you like descriptions of the landscape, trees, flowers, how food was obtained and eaten, all the little details like weather, etc., then you will like the book. The story begins w/ a family of five, three sisters and one brother who live w/ their magistrate/judge father. Adair has a favorite horse and his role throughout the book will interest horse lovers. One of the local vigilante groups beat, arrest and carry their father away. The disabled son is determined to find their father which leaves his sisters at home alone. Scarcity of food and safety, force them to leave and follow the other women and children who no longer have their men's protection. These women and children were considered refugees w/ no place to call home and sometimes were imprisoned in camps. When the oldest, Adair, is accused of being a spy and imprisoned, the two younger sisters are seperated. The Union major in charge of prisoners finds Adair's stories fascinating and is unable to get her confession. Because of his attraction and belief in her innocence, he enables her to escape the prison. The rest of the book is about her journey home, avoiding being recaptured and reuniting her family.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Jolina Petersheim

    Paulette Jiles is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors. This was my second novel of hers to finish, and though it didn't entrance me like News of the World, I did find myself savoring the language and being in awe of the level of research such a story required. The only reason I didn't give Enemy Women five stars (my rating is more 4.5) is because I didn't believe Adair could have found two of her family's horses while on her way home. More than this, though, the ending was too vague to b Paulette Jiles is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors. This was my second novel of hers to finish, and though it didn't entrance me like News of the World, I did find myself savoring the language and being in awe of the level of research such a story required. The only reason I didn't give Enemy Women five stars (my rating is more 4.5) is because I didn't believe Adair could have found two of her family's horses while on her way home. More than this, though, the ending was too vague to be satisfying. I would love to discuss the ending with someone who has read this! I am not sure how to take it.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Mel

    http://gerberadaisydiaries.blogspot.c... Enemy Women is the Odyssean tale of Adair Colley during the final years of the Civil War. Adair has lost her family and her home to a gang of renegade militia men patrolling southeastern Missouri. She is later falsely accused of being a spy for the confederacy, and sent to prison. There she meets Union Maj. William Neumann, who is in charge of deposing her, and in doing so, they both become besotted. Ultimately, Adair escapes prison and spends the rema http://gerberadaisydiaries.blogspot.c... Enemy Women is the Odyssean tale of Adair Colley during the final years of the Civil War. Adair has lost her family and her home to a gang of renegade militia men patrolling southeastern Missouri. She is later falsely accused of being a spy for the confederacy, and sent to prison. There she meets Union Maj. William Neumann, who is in charge of deposing her, and in doing so, they both become besotted. Ultimately, Adair escapes prison and spends the remainder of the book trying to get back “home.” And the reader is taken along on the arduous trek with her. This novel tackles a part of history that I knew nothing about – the role of outlawed militias and guerilla soldiers during the Civil War in Missouri. Also, the widespread imprisonment of women, who the Union charged with aiding and abetting the Confederacy. The author’s descriptive narrative was spot on when portraying the grand scope of the war off of the front lines and the devastation inflicted on families. However, when trying to convince the reader that there was a romance between Maj. Neumann and Adair, she failed miserably. I never once believed these two were in love, let alone, in like. Or that either one would be willing to cross the country in search of each other. Adair had a stronger relationship with her horse and beloved family quilt, than she showed for her Major. Another criticism – and I’m not sure where to point blame, the editor or author – but this book was written entirely without quotations, which was horribly distracting. I had to re-read passages over and over again to remember who was or was not speaking. Adding punctuation would have made this mediocre book, border on the side of GOOD. I did luck out by reading this on my vacation to southern Missouri. I kept envisioning the Reeves gang appearing out of the forests of the Ozark Mountains. Ultimately, I thought this book was a fine history lesson, but a marginal, wandering, story, much like Adair. (Oh, and don’t ask me about the ending! Ugh!) My Clean Reads rating: Other than a few gruesome war scenes, this was free of any sex or language.

  23. 5 out of 5

    SarahC

    This novel says a lot about the complicated process of fighting a civil war in such a geographically large country as the U.S. What to do in the western states when it comes to the mix of loyalties there, especially in Missouri? How do you police areas like these? And what happens when the militia goes rogue? Is this the type of atmosphere anyone was fighting the U.S. Civil War to gain? No, probably not, but it certainly came to be, lasting past the actual end of the war. On opposite sides of the This novel says a lot about the complicated process of fighting a civil war in such a geographically large country as the U.S. What to do in the western states when it comes to the mix of loyalties there, especially in Missouri? How do you police areas like these? And what happens when the militia goes rogue? Is this the type of atmosphere anyone was fighting the U.S. Civil War to gain? No, probably not, but it certainly came to be, lasting past the actual end of the war. On opposite sides of the war, the two main characters are trying to still live life in a more normal mental landscape -- they were dreaming of the future and falling in love. Adair Colley and Major Will Neumann were trying to live out the Civil War nightmare actually very close to the end of the war, which, somewhere in their minds, may have given them some hope. But war stays with you for a long time, as parts of the story seem to represent. As we know deaths related to serious illness in earlier wars were astounding and this danger reached out to civilians as well. Also, there was often no home to return to in the case of those who left to fight or civilians who were forced to leave their homes for all the many reasons. This is an impactful side of war history that authorities aren’t always so good about placing in mainstream history school curriculum. What happened at the edges of the war seems to give us just as much to think about as what happened in Gettysburg and Vicksburg. I liked the vignettes introducing each chapter. The characters were very ordinary people and show that ordinary people aren’t particularly good at fighting a war, dealing with government policies (in William’s case), escaping from military prison (Adair distractedly destroys the pass that would allow her to travel safe through the checkpoints), or understanding the whole mess that war really is. I loved the writing and it includes some of the best dialog I have seen. The emotion between the characters is simple and touching -- a beautiful romance and not overdone or overly sentimental. The consciousness of the characters is well written. I will certainly look for more writing by Jiles.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Em

    Enemy Women by Paulette Jiles is a Civil War tale set in St. Louis, Missouri. Adair Colley is an eighteen-year-old lady whose family vowed to remain neutral during the time of war. However, the Union soldiers ruined their house and took their father away leaving her with the responsibility to take care of her two younger sisters. But shortly, Adair, like many other women sent to prison, was falsely accused of aiding the guerillas. While behind the bars, Adair caught the attention of Major William Enemy Women by Paulette Jiles is a Civil War tale set in St. Louis, Missouri. Adair Colley is an eighteen-year-old lady whose family vowed to remain neutral during the time of war. However, the Union soldiers ruined their house and took their father away leaving her with the responsibility to take care of her two younger sisters. But shortly, Adair, like many other women sent to prison, was falsely accused of aiding the guerillas. While behind the bars, Adair caught the attention of Major William Neumann, the officer who is in charge of her case. Major Neumann eventually fell in love with her for her bold and strong personality. Before being reassigned to other camps, the major granted her freedom and promised to be looking for her when the war ends. Following the major’s instructions, she plotted her escape. Her road to freedom had not been easy, and finding her sisters had been just as challenging. Major Neumann’s promise of marriage and the future they have planned together are Adair’s source of strength to go through the toughest times. In the end, the major’s life was spared during the war, and he found his way to her again. In this historical novel, Jiles’s style is unique. The dialogue is presented in a narrative way. The author has also included excerpts from different publications that provide for a more accurate and in-depth description of the Civil War. http://flipthrough.wordpress.com/2010...

  25. 5 out of 5

    Maria

    After reading News of the World and loving it completely I thought I'd try some of Paulette Jiles' older titles. My library had Enemy Women, so that's how I chose it. Toward the end of the Civil War, firey Adair Colley of southeastern Missouri ends up in a Union prison camp for women. Her father has been taken, her brother has joined the fighting, and her house has been burned. She and her two younger sisters have nothing to do but start walking toward some kind of life - whether it's a better o After reading News of the World and loving it completely I thought I'd try some of Paulette Jiles' older titles. My library had Enemy Women, so that's how I chose it. Toward the end of the Civil War, firey Adair Colley of southeastern Missouri ends up in a Union prison camp for women. Her father has been taken, her brother has joined the fighting, and her house has been burned. She and her two younger sisters have nothing to do but start walking toward some kind of life - whether it's a better one remains to be seen. While imprisoned she and a Union officer fall in love. They are separated by force - it is, after all, a time of war - and the second half of the novel is spent with them traveling back to each other. The novel reminded me a lot of both Cold Mountain, Gone With the Wind, and The Last of the Mohicans, though it is not as good as any of those. I like the style of her writing a lot. In reading an older work of hers after reading her most recent novel, I can see how her writing got from one point to the other. News of the World is her at the top of her game, fine-tuned and perfected. Enemy Women was enjoyable, but it was weighed down by the cumbersome epigraphs at the beginning of every single chapter, and about halfway through the novel I started skipping them so I could get back to the characters. First rate historical fiction with a captivating, complex woman as its main character.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Tonya

    I found this book very hard to "get into" for a number of reasons. One of which was no quotation marks were used, ever, and this made it hard for me to read as I normally do; each character has their own voice in my head and when no quotation marks are used it can mess my internal narration up. Another problem I had was I couldn't find the right tone while reading Adair's dialogue or narration. I couldn't tell if she was genuine, snarky, witty, or naive. When she was speaking with her love intere I found this book very hard to "get into" for a number of reasons. One of which was no quotation marks were used, ever, and this made it hard for me to read as I normally do; each character has their own voice in my head and when no quotation marks are used it can mess my internal narration up. Another problem I had was I couldn't find the right tone while reading Adair's dialogue or narration. I couldn't tell if she was genuine, snarky, witty, or naive. When she was speaking with her love interest I couldn't tell if they were flirting or not. A plus in this book was the start of each chapter had narratives or letters etc. from the SE MO area during the war both soldier and civilian, I enjoyed these snippets much more than the actual story and it's characters. All in all, an ok book. Ms. Jiles did well with describing the regions natural beauty but I found the writing for the characters and their actions lacking. I just didn't really like this novel.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Lois

    The best novel I have read in a very long time - Missouri during the Civil War, fascinating history, beautifully written. The role of rogue militias, guerrilla fighters and their impact on non-combatants was new to me. Adventure, suspense, romance and a spirited young heroine ( reminiscent of Scarlet O'Hara?) you care about who has to lie and steal in order to survive. Each of the short chapters is introduced with selections from primary sources - journals, letters, official reports, etc. One sm The best novel I have read in a very long time - Missouri during the Civil War, fascinating history, beautifully written. The role of rogue militias, guerrilla fighters and their impact on non-combatants was new to me. Adventure, suspense, romance and a spirited young heroine ( reminiscent of Scarlet O'Hara?) you care about who has to lie and steal in order to survive. Each of the short chapters is introduced with selections from primary sources - journals, letters, official reports, etc. One small quibble - I did find the absence of quotation marks distracting.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Ann Hackeling

    Paulette Jiles words and sentences give me such joy! Her words stir up all kinds of emotions that glue me to her pages. The story of the Adair Colley, the Ozark Mountains, and the civil war is part adventure, part love story, and part history. You'll feel differently about both sides, the North and the South, after reading this beautiful story.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Catherine Carr

    As someone born in Southeast Missouri, I’m amazed at how little I know its history, especially from the Civil War. Paulette Giles took this time period and created a fascinating novel—a true page-turner. I can see how this history, of guerrilla warfare and bushwhackers, thieves and murderers, women imprisoned for “consorting with the enemy” even though these be husbands or brothers, has shaped this bit of geography. The descriptions of the beauty of the Ozarks swept me home. And the horses! True As someone born in Southeast Missouri, I’m amazed at how little I know its history, especially from the Civil War. Paulette Giles took this time period and created a fascinating novel—a true page-turner. I can see how this history, of guerrilla warfare and bushwhackers, thieves and murderers, women imprisoned for “consorting with the enemy” even though these be husbands or brothers, has shaped this bit of geography. The descriptions of the beauty of the Ozarks swept me home. And the horses! True angels of this tale. I’m telling my cousins to read Enemy Women so we form a bookclub to discuss our childhoods and our grandparents with newfound understanding.

  30. 4 out of 5

    John

    I liked it. The main character was tough, having been arrested by the Union, escaping jail and makes her way home stealing and lying if needed just to survive. I never really connected with the writing.

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