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Enemy Women

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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

    Julie G

    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.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Candi

    “So it was in the third year of the Civil War in the Ozark mountains of southeastern Missouri, when Virginia creeper and poison ivy wrapped scarlet, smoky scarves around the throats of trees, and there was hardly anybody left in the country but the women and the children.” I’ve always been drawn to war stories. They seem to reveal with such candor both the best and worst of humanity. It is not the blood and loss of limbs and lives that attract me. Rather, it’s the people that seduce me to read ab “So it was in the third year of the Civil War in the Ozark mountains of southeastern Missouri, when Virginia creeper and poison ivy wrapped scarlet, smoky scarves around the throats of trees, and there was hardly anybody left in the country but the women and the children.” I’ve always been drawn to war stories. They seem to reveal with such candor both the best and worst of humanity. It is not the blood and loss of limbs and lives that attract me. Rather, it’s the people that seduce me to read about such horror. But I don’t want a one-sided story. Those that depict the harsh realities that all had to endure no matter which side are the best sort. The ones that validate that there were people like me, ordinary folk, caught in the turmoil of wars they knew little about. Wars that were started by men of whom they knew not a thing. Men with power, rank and agendas. The stories of the women left behind, well, those are sometimes the most powerful of all. “There were only a few years left to her before she would have to marry and be closed up in a noisy house, trapped by domesticity. Adair dreamed often of the waste places and their silences. Places where nobody lived and so there would be no smoke and dirt and ceilings and mindless talking, only herself and the clean snow and the way the world went at every cant and turn of the seasons, and herself riding through it.” Meet Adair Colley. If you were charmed by Captain Kidd in News of the World, then prepare yourself to be dazzled by Adair. Clearly, Paulette Jiles can write about seasoned war veterans and budding, spirited young women with equal finesse and credibility. Adair’s father has been brutally yanked from their home in the war-divided state of Missouri, and Adair and her sisters are forced to flee. When Adair is denounced by a fellow traveler as a spy for the Confederate army, events take an even worse turn. Major William Neumann of the Union army is tasked with the interrogation of the ‘enemy women’ at the prison in St. Louis. His aim is to convince Adair to confess to one charge or another and therefore remove her from the chaos and vulgarity of the general ward to a cell of her own. Adair’s letter of ‘confession’ will reveal the true character of this young woman, and perhaps more than one heart will be in jeopardy of melting as a result. Be sure to guard your own. “She wrote in tumbling artless sentences that rambled and stopped and jumped from thought to thought. She drove the pen across the paper, her fingers white and thin as pale horses. To construct a world of high romance and innocence…” Paulette Jiles sure can pen quite an adventure story. Epic journeys that depict the landscapes she knows so well. Characters that grow and learn from one another. Singular individuals that are met along the way that can either entertain or instill fear in the heart of the reader. Heroes and heroines that shine through their imperfections. But not only can she pen harrowing tales of danger mixed with charm, Ms. Jiles also conducts her research meticulously and competently. This fictional tale is interspersed with snippets of primary and secondary source documents, including letters, military records, memoirs and news articles from both the Union and Confederate sides. They lend an even greater air of authenticity to this excellent book. This is an earlier novel by this author; fourteen years lay between the publication of Enemy Women and News of the World. Nothing about this book would hint that Jiles was in the developing stage of her career. Captain Kidd isn’t the only one that comes across as a seasoned and accomplished soul. Now to take a look at the others I’ve missed in those fourteen intervening years. “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.”

  3. 4 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.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Angela M

    This is a stunning work of historical fiction blended with fact by excerpts from letters, newspapers, and other documents, reflecting impeccable research. I was enlightened about a facet of the Civil War - a Union militia wreaking violence and death in Missouri. There is beautiful story telling bringing to life the time and place with a young girl who loves her family and her horse named Whiskey, as she falls in love with a Union Soldier. (I did, too.) There is joy in meeting a character like Adai This is a stunning work of historical fiction blended with fact by excerpts from letters, newspapers, and other documents, reflecting impeccable research. I was enlightened about a facet of the Civil War - a Union militia wreaking violence and death in Missouri. There is beautiful story telling bringing to life the time and place with a young girl who loves her family and her horse named Whiskey, as she falls in love with a Union Soldier. (I did, too.) There is joy in meeting a character like Adair Randolph Colley, courageous and intelligent, one to admire and remember. Thank you Paulette Jiles for this reader’s gift.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Sara (taking a break)

    The road to hell was paved with the bones of men who did not know when to quit fighting. Like the Wild Geese of Ireland they were used and spent like coins by one army after another. The Civil War was a bloody and costly affair to the men who fought it, and a source of despair for most of our nation's families, who lost their fathers, brothers and sons, but there is another side to the war, and that is its effect on the women who were left to fend for themselves in a world that was unkind to The road to hell was paved with the bones of men who did not know when to quit fighting. Like the Wild Geese of Ireland they were used and spent like coins by one army after another. The Civil War was a bloody and costly affair to the men who fought it, and a source of despair for most of our nation's families, who lost their fathers, brothers and sons, but there is another side to the war, and that is its effect on the women who were left to fend for themselves in a world that was unkind to the lone woman. Adair Randolph Colley is one such woman, and Jiles portrays in her a person of wit and intelligence and courage that is astounding. The war was hard on every state in the South, but in Missouri it was exceptionally violent and cruel. Missouri was a divided state, with as many Confederate as Union sympathizers, and as the war wound down, the atrocities on both sides of the conflict toward the innocent citizenry was appalling. Gangs of marauding men scoured the country, killing at random, and in what is a little explored aspect of the conflict, women were imprisoned for feeding or caring for their own male relatives. During most of the war, the Colley family has managed to remain neutral and continue to farm their acreage. They have never held any slaves, nor do they have combatants on either side of the conflict. But, the depravity of the Union militia finally catches up to them, and Judge Marquis Colley, Adair’s father, is taken prisoner, the house burned and his three daughters left to their own devices. In an attempt to secure his freedom, Adair, barely 18, travels to the headquarters of the Union army and is there falsely accused of spying and herself imprisoned and sent by train to St. Louis. Jiles' descriptions of the prison and its inhabitants are vivid and visceral. But, she also brings a kind of poetry to her prose. The fireplace leaked a slow red light, and the bar shadows lined the opposite wall like thin soldiers or the wraiths of the prisoners gone before. In St. Louis, we meet another pivotal character in Jiles' saga, Major William Neumann, who has been charged with running the ladies prison, and understandably hates his job. He is a decent man caught in an untenable situation. It is through conversations between Adair and William that we begin to see all the layers of Adair's personality emerge. Just as she gives us vivid images of the prison, Jiles is equally descriptive of the natural sights in her novel, painting visual scenes that play in your mind like a movie trailer. Sometimes she walked alongside Whiskey and Dolly in the grassy valleys. The horses drifted along either side of her, grazing. Their lips moved without sound and it seemed they were talking to the earth in a long, complex conversion. On the high barrens of the ridges, the wind tore at her hair and sent her shawl and strands of her black hair streaming behind her. The horses walked beside in protection. They spread the wings of their souls on either side of her. They drank of the air, and Adair walked lightly along with them. I loved this image of the horses spreading "the wings of their souls". It made a particular scene in the book all the more distressing for me. Adair is such a strong, reliable, and honest character. We can believe her, and we do, and others see this quality in her as well, but we also see her become a person who will do what is necessary to survive. When we first meet her, traveling down the road with her sisters to seek the freedom of her father, she has dressed her sisters and given them hats, and the imagery is almost clownish and playful, despite the seriousness of the situation. This purity and childishness is not meant to last for long. This is not a world in which anyone is allowed to keep their innocence or naivety. What makes this book exceptional for me is the grounding it has in the actual history of the time. Jiles has carefully researched her subject, and she opens each chapter with an excerpt from documents of the time detailing the horrors that faced these very real people, in the words of those who experienced it. The first excerpt is from a letter written by Asey Ladd, a Confederate soldier who writes Dear Wife and Children; I take my pen with trembling hand to inform you that I have to be shot between 2 & 4 o’clock this evening. I have but few hours to remain in this unfriendly world. There are 6 of us sentenced to die in retaliation of 6 Union soldiers that was shot by Reeves men. With that harrowing letter, we are warned that this will be a tale of a difficult time; a time that requires strong people; a time of precarious survival. Then Jiles goes on to write a character in the guise of a young girl, who is up to the challenge. I thought of Mattie Ross in True Grit, Ivy Rowe in Fair and Tender Ladies, and Ruby Thewes in Cold Mountain. Adair Randolph Colley belongs to this group: unforgettable women, strong women, survivors.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Antoinette

    Missouri, 1864. The Civil War is raging. Missouri is divided in loyalty between the Union and the Confederates. This is the historical period that the author brings to life in this book. “ We lived without telegraph lines. They are the things that carry evil gossip without your ever being able to see the gossiper and identify them and take your revenge. They speak unseen somewhere afar off. This spy voice is now ticking all over the Ozarks and ordering the taking of women to prison...” The focus o Missouri, 1864. The Civil War is raging. Missouri is divided in loyalty between the Union and the Confederates. This is the historical period that the author brings to life in this book. “ We lived without telegraph lines. They are the things that carry evil gossip without your ever being able to see the gossiper and identify them and take your revenge. They speak unseen somewhere afar off. This spy voice is now ticking all over the Ozarks and ordering the taking of women to prison...” The focus of this story is Adair Colley. She has been turned in as a spy for the Confederates and has been taken to prison in St Louis. I fell in love with her strength and determination. She had backbone, a quality I especially admire. She says to Major Neumann, “How’d you get into this kind of thing, a major in the U.S. Army and tormenting women?” How the people endured and survived is a cautionary tale even today. “What held the civilized world together was the thinnest tissue of nothing but human will.” The author has written a wonderful book with beautiful thoughtful prose for a time that was anything but beautiful. Highly recommended!! PUBLISHED: 2002

  7. 5 out of 5

    Lori Keeton

    Paulette Jiles has been a favorite author since I read News of the World several years ago. Next I read Simon the Fiddler and was not as excited and hoped that my love for Jiles was not going to be a one hit wonder. Now, after finishing her debut novel which she wrote back in 2002, Enemy Women has put Paulette Jiles back in her status of favorite!! The trained and disciplined Union troops had long ago been sent to the battlefields of the East, to Virginia and Tennessee, while the hastily recruit Paulette Jiles has been a favorite author since I read News of the World several years ago. Next I read Simon the Fiddler and was not as excited and hoped that my love for Jiles was not going to be a one hit wonder. Now, after finishing her debut novel which she wrote back in 2002, Enemy Women has put Paulette Jiles back in her status of favorite!! The trained and disciplined Union troops had long ago been sent to the battlefields of the East, to Virginia and Tennessee, while the hastily recruited Militia had been sent down into the Ozarks to chastise the families whose men had gone to the Southern Army, to catch and arrest them when they returned from their six-month enlistments, and to punish those who might be suspected of harboring Southern sympathies. What a remarkable story that Missouri native, Jiles, has thoroughly researched and written. She tells the story of Adair Randolph Colley, an 18 year old girl brought up in the Ozarks of southern Missouri with her father, sisters and brother. She is a formidable, pragmatic and headstrong young woman. Her family has been able to avoid the war for the first few years by being neutral in their leanings. However, Missouri is a divided state, one in which the lawless Union Militia is rounding up anyone, including women and children, who isn’t a Union sympathizer. Both sides have turned this area into a violent and terror strewn place. No-one is safe from arrest or death. This dread eventually reaches the Colley farm and the Militia arrest Adair’s father on suspicious charges of treason. Adair and her sisters flee north hoping to find their father and bring him home. However, that hope fades when Adair is falsely accused of passing information to the confederates by a fellow traveler (becoming an “enemy woman”). She is sent to a women’s prison in St. Louis where she does her best to keep her spirits up even though her health begins to fail. Help from an unforeseen source allows her to escape and sets her on a new path with a new hope within her heart. She is driven by her thoughts of her family, her home, and her future after the war. A log cabin quilt made by her deceased mother with scraps of memories is her security she holds near and dear and won’t depart with. The old clothes trunk was filled with quilts and odd leavings…It contained a Log Cabin quilt of great age and almost every discarded piece of clothing her family had worn since 1819. The Log Cabin was made from remnants of clothes family long gone on before, from their Sunday and wedding clothes, pieces of figured silks and velvets. Their mother had said there were stories in it, some of them scandalous. When she died, she had taken most of the scandals to the grave with her unspoken. I absolutely adored Adair’s tenacity and how she is so confident in her ability to outsmart those who are trying to swindle her. She is a storyteller of sorts as she treks home after escaping from the prison. She is on a trek that would frighten most and cause the majority to just give up. She meets some quirky characters and some conniving people who are not interested in helping her at all. She charms, lies and improvises her way through some of the most devastating events of her young life. Her strong will and tremendous stubbornness make her an extremely impressive young woman. Jiles’ writing is exquisite and full of imagery and history of this exact era. She brilliantly uses excerpts from letters, war documents and memoirs at the beginning of each chapter to set the tone and relay real events that took place in Missouri with the Union Militia and the Confederate guerrillas. This is a novel that I will highly recommend to anyone who loves historical fiction, civil war fiction, and a tale of a strong, resolute young woman.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Connie G

    "Enemy Women" is another book to add to my favorites list. The story is set against the background of the American Civil War in the Missouri Ozarks. Missouri was considered to be a neutral state with fewer slaveholders than the Confederate states that seceded from the Union. However, conventional Union and Confederate troops plus irregular guerrilla military forces (Union Jayhawkers and Confederate Bushwhackers) looted houses and ambushed individuals in Missouri. The neutral Colley family had the "Enemy Women" is another book to add to my favorites list. The story is set against the background of the American Civil War in the Missouri Ozarks. Missouri was considered to be a neutral state with fewer slaveholders than the Confederate states that seceded from the Union. However, conventional Union and Confederate troops plus irregular guerrilla military forces (Union Jayhawkers and Confederate Bushwhackers) looted houses and ambushed individuals in Missouri. The neutral Colley family had their horses stolen, their barn burned, their house raided, and the father beaten and dragged away by Union forces. A drenching rain saved their house from being destroyed by fire. Eighteen-year-old Adair Colley and her younger sisters took to the road in an attempt to get news of their father's condition. A fellow traveler's false statements resulted in Adair's arrest on charges of "enemy collaboration," and she was sent to a woman's prison in St Louis. Adair is saucy, sarcastic, and courageous in prison, but it is a hotbed of disease. Her Union interrogator, Major Neumann, is a righteous man who respects Adair's convictions, and tries to help her. Eventually, Adair sets off on a long dangerous journey through the ravaged, lawless state to reach her home in southeastern Missouri. She is strong, resourceful, and quick-thinking in some frightening situations. The book also details Major Neumann's journey after a bloody battle. Paulette Jiles, who is also a poet, writes beautiful prose. In addition to being a compelling story, the book starts each chapter with excerpts from actual Civil War correspondence, newspaper articles, and both Union and Confederate military records. The story illustrates the brutality of this war where neighbors fought neighbors. This is a story about survival, love, and a journey with a desperate longing to reach home . . . not knowing if home still exists.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Cathrine ☯️

    3.5➗➗➗ I'm a bit divided as well as a bit of an outlier on this one. I find American Civil War history and historical fiction based on the period compelling and this book was both in the way it was structured. But I kept wishing it was one or the other. I also listened to parts of it and did not care for the narrator's interpretation of main character Adair's voice cadence, often rushed and nervous sounding, although, considering what was going on in her life, perhaps realistic in those circumsta 3.5➗➗➗ I'm a bit divided as well as a bit of an outlier on this one. I find American Civil War history and historical fiction based on the period compelling and this book was both in the way it was structured. But I kept wishing it was one or the other. I also listened to parts of it and did not care for the narrator's interpretation of main character Adair's voice cadence, often rushed and nervous sounding, although, considering what was going on in her life, perhaps realistic in those circumstances. Fair to say I prefer Jiles' later works. Though I found this informative, it did not engage me the way I had hoped.

  10. 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.

  11. 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...

  12. 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.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Terry

    I very much enjoyed Enemy Women. I was surprised to see that this was Paulette Jiles’s first novel because it read so well. Her technique of putting historical quotes in front of each chapter gave the story believability even when one might discount the plausibility of the events. I loved her writing style, her descriptions and her characters. The main character in this book is a young woman, Adair Colley, who is “full of piss and vinegar,” who has a great imagination, bravery, purpose and stren I very much enjoyed Enemy Women. I was surprised to see that this was Paulette Jiles’s first novel because it read so well. Her technique of putting historical quotes in front of each chapter gave the story believability even when one might discount the plausibility of the events. I loved her writing style, her descriptions and her characters. The main character in this book is a young woman, Adair Colley, who is “full of piss and vinegar,” who has a great imagination, bravery, purpose and strength. This book filled in some blanks in my knowledge of the Civil War and I felt a personal connection. The area of southeast Missouri had a lot in common with where some of my ancestors spent the 1860s in Tennessee. My relatives lived in middle Tennessee where, after the fall of Fort Donelson into Union hands, it was occupied by Union forces. Like in Missouri, there were Confederate bushwhackers and at least one house in the county was burned down. This I had known about. I hadn’t known about rebel women being held under arrest in Union hands, though. And it was fascinating to think about how the ordinary people of a rural county (without slaves or another reason to fight) coped with the war and responded to its brutality. For anyone interested in the Civil War, this is a great book to read. It is also a sweet and unexpected love story, but I wouldn’t let that stop me, because it is somewhat underplayed in the unfolding of the story.

  14. 4 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."

  15. 5 out of 5

    Sue K H

    There will be trouble in Missouri until the Secesh are subjugated and made to know that they are not only powerless, but that any attempts to make trouble here will bring upon them certain destruction and this . . . must not be confined to soldiers and fighting men, but must be extended to non-combatant men and women . [Emphasis in the original] —BARTON BATES TO EDWARD BATES, ST. LOUIS, OCTOBER 10, 1861, EDWARD BATES COLLECTION, MISSOURI HISTORICAL SOCIETY, ST. LOUIS Paulette uses this quote fro There will be trouble in Missouri until the Secesh are subjugated and made to know that they are not only powerless, but that any attempts to make trouble here will bring upon them certain destruction and this . . . must not be confined to soldiers and fighting men, but must be extended to non-combatant men and women . [Emphasis in the original] —BARTON BATES TO EDWARD BATES, ST. LOUIS, OCTOBER 10, 1861, EDWARD BATES COLLECTION, MISSOURI HISTORICAL SOCIETY, ST. LOUIS Paulette uses this quote from the historical record as her opening in the prologue of Enemy Women.   She has two or three of these in each  10-12 page chapter.  This hybrid epistolary style makes almost 10% of the book nonfiction.  The quotes give gravitas and believability to her fictionalized story set around smaller, less familiar civil war battles in Missouri.   The opening quote is chilling because even though we know that no war is civil and all have civilian casualties, we wouldn't expect civilians to be targets in our country, especially not women. The justification was that women and non fighting men may provide food and support to the rebel militias.   Another key historical quote tells us that the average Missouri citizen didn't own slaves, lived on farms and provided their own sustenance.   This lets us know that our protagonist Adair Colley and her family weren't atypical.    Adair Colley will live in my memory as a favorite literary character.  She's an independent teenager who loves her horse Whiskey so much that she can bare to loan him out.  She dreams of independence and making her own way and has little interest in marriage.  She's fearless and stands up to prison bullies, Union soldiers, Union militia and others.   The story is mostly about Adair as she starts her own type of Odyssey after her house is burned down and her father is kidnapped. I won't go into more of the story for fear of spoiling it. If you've read Charles Frazier's Cold Mountain, you can't help but think of it here, but this is more fast paced and filled with it's own unique qualities. She focuses on lesser known aspects of history with an unassuming style that has a beautiful rhythm and packs a powerful punch. This is my third book from Jiles with a 4th in progress and I look forward to more.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Lorna

    Enemy Women was the stunning debut literary novel by Paulette Jiles set during the Civil War in southeastern Missouri. Each chapter begins with epigraphs giving varied historical information, background and context for the devastation and despair flowing from the "War Between the States." Even though the Colley family avowed neutrality, they were caught up in the maelstrom of devastation and destruction as the war raged on. Forced to leave when the Union Army burned their home, beating up her wi Enemy Women was the stunning debut literary novel by Paulette Jiles set during the Civil War in southeastern Missouri. Each chapter begins with epigraphs giving varied historical information, background and context for the devastation and despair flowing from the "War Between the States." Even though the Colley family avowed neutrality, they were caught up in the maelstrom of devastation and destruction as the war raged on. Forced to leave when the Union Army burned their home, beating up her widowed father and driving her brother into hiding. Adair Colley then salvaging what she could, including a Log Cabin quilt, fled with her younger sisters, vowing to find her father and brother as well as their horses. While fleeing, Adair Colley was falsely accused of crimes by a fellow traveler and imprisoned in St. Louis. Forced to undergo hours of interrogation by a Union major, he finds that he is in love with her. Before leaving the prison on a new military assignment on the front, he promises that he will return for her and gives her what she will need to escape when the opportunity arises. Adair Colley then becomes an "enemy woman" on the run. This is the story of Adair Colley and the story of Major Will Neumann. "Adair drew the Log Cabin quilt out of its linen wrapping and examined it in the firelight. . . . She studied it with intense interest. The hearths were all velvets of varying reds. Carmine, scarlet, a garnet, a deep rose. There was a beautiful silk repeated over and over on the shadow side, which was a dark brown with a figure in garnet that might have been the face of a clock. Adair spread her hand over one of the blocks as if over her home with its red velvet fire in the heart of her family, both living and dead."

  17. 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."

  18. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    "War is hell" is a cliche for a reason; it's so very true. War definitely impacts the combatant and in different and equally powerful ways impacts the civilians. In Enemy Women Jiles tells the story of the Civil War in the Ozarks of the southeastern corner of Missouri. She tells her tale mostly through the story of Adair Colley, an 18 year old whose family is torn apart by the war. Much changes in the whole country during this war, and the change in Adair's life is the carnage in microcosm. "On t "War is hell" is a cliche for a reason; it's so very true. War definitely impacts the combatant and in different and equally powerful ways impacts the civilians. In Enemy Women Jiles tells the story of the Civil War in the Ozarks of the southeastern corner of Missouri. She tells her tale mostly through the story of Adair Colley, an 18 year old whose family is torn apart by the war. Much changes in the whole country during this war, and the change in Adair's life is the carnage in microcosm. "On those nights she had thought of herself as a person that wonderful things would happen to because she was uncommon and marked apart. That a clear light burned inside 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 as she had taken the candle out to see Whiskey led in through the snow. and that no wind would ever put it out. It seemed to her that at that time she had been a very pure person and had not wanted anybody to die nor led anyone to their death, nor had she stolen anything or lied or hated as she had hated. But now her name was written in the Book of Dirt." This novel speaks to today as well as to 1864. "We are in the middle of many changes, and this endless changing is become disorder and people cannot long endure disorder. They'll do anything rather than put up with it. Desperate things. Things that they don't want to remember later." I think life moves in a spiral. Here we are again. Although it is just a small part of Jiles' story, for me this book is a reminder of how some things have changed for women. In 1864 women were considered as property and the responsibility of men. I forget how recent our emancipation is. We had no legal rights until the last century. Some women were fortunate to have forward thinking men as fathers, brothers, husbands; and many did not. Women finally got the right to vote in 1920, in 1955 it became legal for women to serve on juries in Texas, and birth control was legalized in 1965 for married women and 1972 for unmarried persons. Okay, back to the book. I love Jiles poetic prose. A few examples: "And always in the distance she could hear the sound of the St. Louis and Iron Mountain Railroad engines, their long wailing. Like the beginning note sounded by a choirmaster for a phantom choir that never sang." "Overhead banks of cumulus built up with icy bright edges and the sunlight came through the canopy of sycamore and elm in dots and dashes on the water. "She woke up as suddenly as glass smashes." Missouri was a divided state and this region was constantly in changing hands. Murder and theft was committed on both sides with impunity. The impact of the Civil War lives on today in this region. “The people of the southern highlands would become famous in the nineteenth century for the intensity of their xenophobia, and also for the violence of its expression.” It is easy to imagine how a people can become isolated and suspicious of outsiders in light of the terrible things that happened there. These events occurred only about 150 years ago, that's only 3 generations. I admire Adair, our protagonist. She is tenacious and resilient, a survivor. I found myself rooting for her on every step of her journey. Now what doesn't work for me: 1. The romance. Jiles doesn't show me two people who know and understand each other. I can buy lust, though not deep love. 2. The epigraphs at the beginning of each story. I love primary sources and am thrilled to see them in this book. And I found I kept losing my place in the story. I read the second half skipping the primary sources. The story flowed so much better for me. Afterward, I went back and read the epigraphs and tried to figure out what Jiles was trying to say by their placement. I didn't come up with anything. If you have any insight, please share it with me. Had these all been placed at the back of the novel, it would have worked better for me. 3. The number of coincidences. I can accept one for the sake of the story and occassionally more if deftly handled. I found myself irritated and drawn out of the story as they mounted up. This was a solid 3 stars for me. I liked this book a lot. And I can see how Jiles grew into the author of News of the World which completely charmed me.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Jim

    I give this work of historical fiction by Paulette Jiles 5 stars. It's beautifully written and, in particular, I enjoyed the dialogue. Jiles also brings to vivid life a particular time and place--Missouri during the Civil War. But, most of all, I was looking for a good story that could engage me on a hot and humid summer afternoon ( with a glass of cold lemonade by my side) and this story hit the jackpot for me. A good story requires a good character and eighteen-year-old Adair is a strong chara I give this work of historical fiction by Paulette Jiles 5 stars. It's beautifully written and, in particular, I enjoyed the dialogue. Jiles also brings to vivid life a particular time and place--Missouri during the Civil War. But, most of all, I was looking for a good story that could engage me on a hot and humid summer afternoon ( with a glass of cold lemonade by my side) and this story hit the jackpot for me. A good story requires a good character and eighteen-year-old Adair is a strong character and an unforgettable one. During the Civil War, Missouri was a divided state, a borderland between the Union and the Confederacy. With an overwhelming superiority in numbers and material, the Union side was attempting to occupy the entire state, while the Confederates fought a deadly guerrilla war against the "Yankees." The Union response was to have pro-Union Missourians organized as the Union Militia and conduct a war against the civilian population--including women, children and old men--who gave support to their relatives in the guerrilla forces. It should have been no surprise that atrocities were committed on both sides as the war in Missouri became a war of marauding bands of men murdering and plundering their way across the countryside. Young Adair sees the Union Militia take away her father as a prisoner and burn her house, leaving her and her two sisters to fend for themselves (her mother had already died). Adair has to take care of her sisters in a lawless land, especially dangerous for women, and also wants to try to find her father. One of the things I liked about this book is that Jiles did her research on this little-known aspect of the Civil War. A native Missourian, she was able to draw on the experiences of her family in the Ozarks of southern Missouri. As stated in the Conversation at the end of the book, she had also read about the incarceration of a great number of women in a women's prison in St. Louis. Adair becomes a prisoner in the filthy St. Charles Street Prison for Women in St. Louis. The teenager became one of the "enemy women" in the minds of the Unionists. There's a lot of action--violence--in this book but this is also a love story, as a Union officer at the prison falls in love with Adair and helps her to make her escape. Sometimes, as Adair travels through the countryside, the pace slows down. But that was fine with me as I enjoyed the beauty of Jiles' writing. A blurb on the cover states that the book is " written with a tough, haunting eloquence." I can't top that. 5 STARS.

  20. 5 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.

  21. 4 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.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Ned

    This novel was thrilling, it artfully balanced all the essential ingredients for me: Discovery of a new author, from my home state and apparently people like me, spinning a powerful story out of fragments of history gleaned from her personal research. Missouri was an interesting place in the Civil war, there weren’t many pitched battles, but the wilder southern areas (the Ozark mountains) were a most dangerous place to live, regardless of sympathies. Guerilla confederate forces fought the Missou This novel was thrilling, it artfully balanced all the essential ingredients for me: Discovery of a new author, from my home state and apparently people like me, spinning a powerful story out of fragments of history gleaned from her personal research. Missouri was an interesting place in the Civil war, there weren’t many pitched battles, but the wilder southern areas (the Ozark mountains) were a most dangerous place to live, regardless of sympathies. Guerilla confederate forces fought the Missouri Union militia who plundered their land in sort of free-for all. Old scores were settled in the chaos and many just disappeared, farms burned. Often homesteaders were caught between the “successionists” and the union armies, sometimes feeding one in the morning & the other at night. Women were enslaved without proper due process, and some taken to a horrific women’s prison in Saint Louis (my home city, whose history always interests me). My own family lore has a story of brother against brother & family disputes. Few Missourians were landowners with slaves, so the sympathy with the south was not about slavery, it was more tribal and due to antipathy to control by the often poorly supervised and opportunistic frauds claiming union credentials. Daniel Woodrell, another native son, has written great novels about our history. Paulette Jiles was recently introduced to me, and what a thrill to realize we share some history & to discover her incredible writing talent. It is poetic, beautiful prose and she captures the heart of a young, strong heroine brilliantly. I’ll go out on a limb and say the spunky Adair Colley is one of the great female figures in literature. Jiles understands horses and the relationship of men and women with these beasts (angelic, she calls them, as they serve mankind faithfully even through war and danger. I was interested to read that Jiles’ first protagonist was stranded in prison after 80,000 words, and she relegated her to a minor character before a photograph of a dark-eyed woman gave her the creative vision for the stunning Adair that I just read about. I can recognize great writing, am envious as I can’t do it, but jolted with reality to realize how hard it must be even for the talented ones such as Jiles to invest so much effort into a character and then have to give it all up and throw in the towel. But what emerged is a powerful tale, a page-turner really, and with plenty of pain, bite and reality for me. These people suffered a lot, and the author does not sugar-coat, my heart was racing the whole time & I expected catastrophe. I can handle a great novel where nothing good emerges (I’m a McCarthyite for goodness sakes), but this author infused slivers of hope amongst the pathos, a rich broth infused with the smells, the mosquitoes, the nefarious characters making up the river beds of my native Mississippi river soils. I like this book so much; I might write the author to share MO kinship & thank her for what she has given us. I read this along with my friend, also from MO, and can’t wait to discuss the details of it. I will also order one more of this brilliant author. Great female characters are not the common, this one is special. Another unique feature of this novel, which I loved, is that each chapter quotes from a historical source (e.g. letters written to family, actual military correspondence) which illustrates the authenticity of the story – this was not distracting in any way, in fact it embellished the experience for me. She quotes often from Feldman’s “Inside War” which I’ve had on my shelf for years, the story of Missouri’s civil war from the soldier’s perspective. I have my own family stories and history sources, so this kinship with the author was special. This book certainly reminded me of Frazier’s Cold Mountain (which I also loved), the trauma and the long journey through the wilderness in the hope of finding a home that is likely no more, and a love interest that makes the reader hope for reconciliation and resolution and redemption. p. 15, before the trauma, our tomboy heroine, fantasizing freedom in the outdoors: “There were only a few years left to her before she would have to marry and be closed up in a noisy house, trapped by domesticity. Adair dreamed often of the waste places and their silence. Places where nobody lived and so there would be no smoke and dirt and ceilings and mindless talking, only herself and the clean show and the way the world went at every cant and turn of the seasons, and herself riding through it.” p. 22, first encounters with soldiers shows of Jiles’ superb prose: “They wore dark blue. They were young men from St. Louis or from the river towns. Their horses were ganted, rake thin, and the blue coats torn and faded, for they had been long in the field and the Ozark mountains were a geography that could beat men and equipment and horses all to pieces. The fenders and girths of their saddles were scarred and repaired with whang leather. They were hungry-looking and cold and rank, hanging loose in their saddles at a hard trot.” Does anyone else feel Cormac McCarthy here? p. 63, from “Inside War”, “For northerners… the enemy was neither the plantation-owner nor his slaves but poor southern shite trash – ‘pukes’, as northerners liked to call them… Northern whites feared they too could be compelled back into a perceived impoverished barbarism, as they thought of the Pukes, away from the increasingly mature property and moral tidiness by which northern freemen justified their individual existence and purpose of their society. Perhaps at some unacknowledged level there was something enticing about a wilder, unstructured life.” p. 251, Adair picks up TB in prison & her wild ride back home encounters so much, e.g. “…the sow bear had been tearing up the body of a man and she was so shocked she felt faint at first. He was strung all up and down the open glade, the arm and part of the torso torn loose, a checkered shirt ripped from the ribs, the skull with the hair nearly worn off it rolled into a stand of limestone where it took on the color of the rock except for the patches of deep auburn hair. The sow bear shook her head to loose one of the legs from the spine and it seemed half a man kicked and danced in her jaws.” p. 256, these immigrants from England, Scotland and Irish highlands, fighting now an American civil war: “Adair listened and would have listened all night. The songs were like an intoxicating drink in their high romance, their extravagance, the ballads of the border people in their poverty and their bitter, violent pride. Tales of revenge and murder and lost loves, lost heroes and war.” p. 297, post-war Missouri was as treacherous as ever, martial law still in place for 2 more years gave the Union (or Union-claiming) soldiers nearly free reign. Here a returning, traumatizing union officer watches the ferryman warily and muses about the future of mankind: “The world was very combustible, the human body was partible in ways heretofore unimagined. 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, or how we knew to invent it, was beyond him.” (again, Cormac McCarthy-esque for me). p. 298, Tragically beautiful writing about nature, man and the environs of my home state: “Men had striven against one another to control the unreeling river-road, battling at New Madrid and Island Number Ten, at Baton Rouge and Vicksburg, in the heat of the summer and the humid, choking air of the malarial swamps. But the river carried away men and guns and the garbage of war, covering it over, washing itself clean again as if they had never been. Neumann turned his face toward Missouri.”

  23. 4 out of 5

    La Crosse County Library

    Review originally published July 2003 "I remember an old man named Freshour. He was old and deaf and as he was walking along, the Yankees came up behind him and hollered at him to stop. Of course he did not hear them and they shot him in the back and killed him. My mother and some more ladies had to dig a grave and bury him, for my father and two brothers who had been home on a furlough had already gone back to the Southern Army…On this same raid they went into the home of two of my uncles an Review originally published July 2003 "I remember an old man named Freshour. He was old and deaf and as he was walking along, the Yankees came up behind him and hollered at him to stop. Of course he did not hear them and they shot him in the back and killed him. My mother and some more ladies had to dig a grave and bury him, for my father and two brothers who had been home on a furlough had already gone back to the Southern Army…On this same raid they went into the home of two of my uncles and took them out and hung them to their own gatepost. They were both big men and were my mother’s brothers. My mother was there and saw it all and as long as she lived she never got over the shock. And they called that a civil war. It was the cruelest war we ever had." -E.J. Walker, quoted in Oldtimer, by Florence Fenley, The Hornby Press, Uvalde, Texas, 1936. Walker was born in Northern Arkansas in 1856, son of a Methodist minister. During the time of the Civil War, militias rule parts of the country. Men are removed from their homes by force, livestock commandeered, food provisions taken, and homes burned. The men are taken to fight, but killed if they refuse. The women, if left behind, are not told the fate of the men. Some women, declared to be “enemy women,” are taken away as well. Families are torn apart by these roving militias searching for men and provisions. Enemy Women by Paulette Jiles tells the story of one such family. Marquis Colley, a widower, is taken on November 16, 1864. His oldest daughter, Adair, age 18, is compelled to follow with her two younger sisters to find out his fate. Unsure of where their father has been taken, the girls seek out advice and news along the way. Fellow travelers, many of them refugees like Adair and her sisters, are cautious of each other. Before she is able to locate her father, Adair is arrested, based on a charge by a fellow traveler, and taken to a prison holding other enemy women. While in prison Adair continues to search out news of her father and now her sisters. When given a chance to escape by a sympathizing officer, she goes. Her travels home include hiding from the militia, surviving hunger, the elements, and the lawlessness of the countryside. Enemy Women chronicles Adair’s ordeal, as well as those of other women of the time, by inserting passages from actual newspaper articles, diaries, letters, and official war records. The inserts are poignant and contain harsh accounts of the realities of that war and its collateral victims. Find this book and other titles within our catalog.

  24. 4 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.

  25. 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.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship

    This is an excellent book, on the literary end of the historical fiction spectrum, and focused on a part of the American Civil War that I knew nothing about: the guerrilla warfare in Missouri, a disputed border state. This ravaged the local population, especially in the southeastern counties, where the book is set. We primarily follow the exploits of a young woman, Adair, who loses her father and home and is taken prisoner as a suspected Confederate sympathizer. Adair is a tough cookie however, This is an excellent book, on the literary end of the historical fiction spectrum, and focused on a part of the American Civil War that I knew nothing about: the guerrilla warfare in Missouri, a disputed border state. This ravaged the local population, especially in the southeastern counties, where the book is set. We primarily follow the exploits of a young woman, Adair, who loses her father and home and is taken prisoner as a suspected Confederate sympathizer. Adair is a tough cookie however, finding ways to play her situations to her advantage and ultimately setting off an odyssey through the war-torn Ozarks. It’s an engaging story, and the author makes some astute decisions to raise the stakes and make clear that we’re playing for keeps, this isn’t just a fun adventure. (view spoiler)[I was not expecting Adair to pick up tuberculosis in prison. From a bit of online research, which suggests that untreated TB has a 50% death rate, it looks like this wasn’t always a death sentence in the 19th century as I had assumed. (hide spoiler)] The setting is detailed and feels authentic and well-researched, bringing the physical surroundings and the historical era expertly to life. And I appreciated the short excerpts from various primary sources at the beginning of each chapter, which add context to the novel. Adair makes an excellent protagonist, tough and adaptable and sympathetic. I think she’s the kind of character authors who write the derided Strong Female Protagonist (with ironic capitals) are aiming for: often those characters wind up feeling hollow, too busy conforming to shallow ideas of strength to actually feel human. Adair on the other hand feels like a real person, and her behavior and dialogue were absolutely convincing to me from a southern country-bred tomboy. (I had to shake my head at the author interview at the back, in which Jiles is repeatedly asked a variation on “Adair behaves one way in one situation, and another way in a different situation. Is this a contradiction?” Um, welcome to humanity?) The writing is also very good and feels appropriate to the time period. Omitting quotation marks feels dumb to me generally, but it works for this story: Jiles uses a style of narrative that doesn’t explain and interpret everything for the reader, but provides the facts and allows readers to draw their own conclusions. There is a bit of narrative distance in that, but this book is a good example of the advantages of distance in a historical novel, where characters won’t always hold opinions we endorse today. Adair seems to identify with the Confederacy, though in a complicated way (when a zealous fellow prisoner is upset by news of Sherman’s March to the Sea, Adair is glad to hear that the rich slaveholders who got the South into the war are suffering too). It’s up to the narrative itself, with its semi-omniscient ability to drop in on the experiences of others, to point out the suffering of slaves, which Adair—quite believably—doesn’t have space to stop and feel bad about. And the book is all about complex moral judgments: just because the Union opposed slavery doesn’t mean everything their troops did was right and vice versa, but it’s not an apologist Lost Cause book either. I was least impressed with the romance, between Adair and a Union officer responsible for interrogating her in prison. It’s believable that two people living under intense circumstances would experience an intense attraction, but to me this sort of encounter is destined to become “the one who got away”; there’s no basis here for a lasting relationship, and I wasn’t rooting for them as a couple as the book seemed to intend. (view spoiler)[Making their reunion the one bright spot in an otherwise downer ending therefore didn’t improve the ending at all for me. I also thought having him taking Adair’s revenge for her, not once but twice, a bit much. The second time was based on such extraordinary coincidence and convenience that it stretched credulity to the limit, and if we’re going to do that I’d rather have at least had the emotional catharsis of seeing Adair get her own revenge. (hide spoiler)] (Well, actually I was least impressed with the author screwing up the ages of Adair’s sisters, though that’s a minor point. They’re referred to as Adair’s “little” sisters, and Adair has just turned 18. When they’re first introduced in a scene set exactly four years before the main storyline, however, Savannah is said to be almost 15—which would make her Adair’s older Irish twin—while Mary is 12. I wasn’t sure whether Jiles intended them to be these ages in the main storyline but stated them in the wrong chapter, or if she struggles with counting, or what, but I never could figure out how old they were supposed to be.) Overall, this is a solid choice for those who enjoy literary historical fiction and don’t mind books that can be dark and brutal at times. I generally feel like the Civil War has been played out in fiction, perhaps because of the number of these books aimed at younger readers that I consumed as a kid, but this one stands out from the crowd. Readers of this would likely also enjoy Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy and vice versa.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Toria (some what in hiatus)

    The first book I listened to by Paulette Jules was News of the world and I loved it so dearly. It was on my very top books of 2021. (And the movie was great to). I've been meaning to read more from her but unfortunately I haven't in over a year! But luckily decided to pick this up. Paulette definitely has some real talent in making the characters feel so real and so compelling. That what was compelling me to keep listening and not the plot necessarily. I didn't end up loving this as much but it The first book I listened to by Paulette Jules was News of the world and I loved it so dearly. It was on my very top books of 2021. (And the movie was great to). I've been meaning to read more from her but unfortunately I haven't in over a year! But luckily decided to pick this up. Paulette definitely has some real talent in making the characters feel so real and so compelling. That what was compelling me to keep listening and not the plot necessarily. I didn't end up loving this as much but it was still a great book

  28. 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.

  29. 4 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.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Donna Everhart

    Without a doubt the period during the Civil War was a complex time, making this a complex story. It's told from two viewpoints, that of Adair Colley, a young Missourian woman, (move over Scarlett O'hara) who, along with her two younger sisters are forced to leave their home after a brutal attack on their father by the Union and that of William Neumann, a Union major who encounters young Adair in the prison she is sent to after being set up by suspicious trouble makers. It is while she's in the pr Without a doubt the period during the Civil War was a complex time, making this a complex story. It's told from two viewpoints, that of Adair Colley, a young Missourian woman, (move over Scarlett O'hara) who, along with her two younger sisters are forced to leave their home after a brutal attack on their father by the Union and that of William Neumann, a Union major who encounters young Adair in the prison she is sent to after being set up by suspicious trouble makers. It is while she's in the prison a relationship develops into an attraction, and although they are an unlikely match given they're supposed to be on opposite sides (Adair's family was neutral), the connection they feel is undeniable. Much like the movie, "The Last of the Mohicans," where the line, "I will find you!" cements the conviction of love professed, so too does Neumann's declaration to Adair that he will find her, that all she has to do is go home and wait for him after he provides her a way out. What helped add clarity to the storyline were the true accounts provided at the beginning of each chapter from various resources used in Jiles' research. This information imparted credibility and authenticity to the narrative that was unfolding in each of the following chapters - because believe me, some of the behavior would have you thinking people had lost their ever loving minds back then. But we are reading this in a much different time, and have to take into account the behaviors over one hundred and fifty years ago are nothing like today. With a wild West sort of mentality, there were plenty of ne'er do wells who took advantage of others during the time of the Civil War, those who took law and order into their own hands. It seemed there were generous individuals who were also conniving and intent on what they could get out of anyone they helped, and from a research standpoint, this too, rings absolutely true. Even while there were lots of unsavory characters to encounter, young Adair is tough, determined and intent on her goal of getting home, and finding her sisters and her father. Particularly toward the end I found I didn't want to put the book down, but quite honestly, all throughout, this story is a real page turner. I highly recommend, particularly for readers who loved Charles Frazier's Cold Mountain.

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