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Enemy Women: A Novel Hardcover – February 5, 2002


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: WilliamMr; 1st edition (February 5, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0066214440
  • ISBN-13: 978-0066214443
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.4 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (237 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,262,329 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Enemy Women, the outstanding first novel by poet Paulette Jiles, leads us into new terrain, both geographic and historical, in the war between the states. Set in the Missouri Ozarks during the Civil War, Jiles's story focuses on the trying times of 18-year-old heroine Adair Colley. When a group of renegade Union militiamen attacks the Colley home, stealing family possessions, burning everything down, and taking away her father--an apolitical judge--Adair gathers the remnants of her clothes and mounts a rescue effort. Unfortunately, she is falsely accused of being a Confederate spy, a charge that lands her in a squalid women's prison run by a decent commandant embarrassed by his post. After he helps her escape, the two agree to seek out one another after the war; their separate, harrowing journeys and the evolution of each character throughout make for breathtaking action and powerful writing. Each chapter of Enemy Women begins with excerpts from historical testimony about this terrible period in the Civil War, when marauding soldiers pillaged and murdered whole families and communities at will. These documents add depth and resonance to Jiles's remarkable narrative. --Tom Keogh

From Publishers Weekly

For Adair Randolph Colley, at 18 the eldest daughter of a widowed Missouri Ozarks schoolmaster and justice of the peace, the Civil War becomes personal when her father, who has remained neutral in the conflict, is arrested by the Union militia, their home is nearly burned and their possessions stolen. At the start of this spirited first novel, Adair and her two younger sisters try to follow their father's captors, but Adair is falsely denounced as a Confederate spy. At the prison in St. Louis, upright commandant Maj. William Neumann is embarrassed to be interrogating women and has requested a transfer to a fighting unit. He's touched by Adair's beauty and spirit and asks her to give him some information so she can be released. Instead, she writes the story of her life, augmented by folk tales and fables, and he finds himself falling in love. When he gets his reassignment orders, he proposes marriage and asks her to escape, promising to find her after the war. Thus begins a long and terrible journey for each of them. Poet and memoirist Jiles (North Spirit) has written a striking debut novel whose tone lingers poignantly. Not a typical romantic heroine, Adair has the saucy naevete of an unsophisticated countrywoman and the wily bravery born of an honest character. Jiles's strengths include a sure command of period vernacular and knowledge of the social customs among backwoods people, as well as a delicate hand with the love story. Sure to be touted as a new Cold Mountain, this stark, unsentimental, yet touching novel will not suffer in comparison. Agent, Liz Darhansoff. (Feb.)Forecast: Family stories were the basis of Jiles's plot, augmented by Civil War letters and documents prefacing each chapter. While the writing is literary, the book is more accessible than Cold Mountain, and could easily win a wide audience, boosted by regional author appearances.

Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

Customer Reviews

I recommend you read this book even if you are not a history/ civil war fan.
Kathleen Underwood
There are some fascinating details about the Civil War; I think Jiles did a wonderful job researching and giving the book an authentic period feel.
Cville Dad
I did not enjoy the characters and found the story too choppy and depressing.
Jsturg

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

49 of 51 people found the following review helpful By "jmklabin" on May 3, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I wasn't going to read this novel. I'm not big on the Civil War or history or stories that take place pre-1900, but Anna Quindlen and Kaye Gibbons raved about it so I thought I'd give it a try. Thank Heavens I did. I could not get enough of this novel. Paulette Jiles pulls you right into Missouri and takes you through an exciting journey with Adair Colley. Jiles' writing is so crisp that you can feel the wind and the sunlight she writes about, you can hear the horses galloping in the woods, you will fall in love with the Missouri wilderness (and will Col. Neumann, too!) But this is more than I love story. The history of the Civil War is absolute throughout. I cannot imagine a single soul that would not find this novel to be worth the read.
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39 of 41 people found the following review helpful By Sheri Melnick on February 23, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Award-winning poet Paulette Jiles enthralls readers with this, her first novel, a gripping tale of love and survival among the destruction of the Civil War. In southeastern Missouri, Adair Colley and her two young sisters are left alone when the Union Militia arrests their father. Leaving their partially burnt home, the girls set out on foot to search for their father.
But Missouri is a state divided, with renegade rebels led by Colonel Tim Reeves, and the Union Militia destroying all in the name of martial law. When Adair is arrested on false charges of aiding the confederate "enemy", she is taken to a prison in St. Louis and must leave her sisters behind. Crafty and resourceful, Adair manages to survive amongst the female population of the General Ward, despite threats from other inmates and the evil-doings of the matron.
While in prison, Adair attracts the attention of Major William Neumann, who promises to request her release in return for a signed confession. As the frequency of their meetings increases, their clever banter gradually changes into a union of like souls, amidst the horrors of the war. When they must each go their different ways, time will tell if love is strong enough to withstand their separation.
Lyrical prose capturing both the beauty of the Ozarks and the destruction of human life all around forms the framework in this alluring read. The texture is further enhanced by the snippets of Civil War history interspersed with fictional elements. And the focus on a Civil War Missouri is both refreshing and educational, no antebellum homes here, mostly just poor farmers with nary a plantation in sight.
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32 of 33 people found the following review helpful By "favresfan" on March 7, 2002
Format: Hardcover
First of all, I will not summarize the novel; it has already been done. I will simply reflect in a scattershot way. The comparison to Frazier's Cold Mountain is inevitable; however, I feel Ms. Jiles has her own voice. I also see comparison to Howard Bahr's The Black Flower. If I were to rank the three, Ms. Jiles' Enemy Women is the best with The Black Flower second. Sorry gentlemen, but Adair, the female heroine does it for me; I love her. She will honestly go down in my favorite character hall of fame. She is sarcastic, funny, childlike, naive, pensive, resourceful--all rolled into one. I agree with the previous reviewer's use of the word ephemeral but in a much more positive way. I think of the prison washlines and description of Adair's hair--always returning to her beautiful hair whether drying or floating in Hominy Creek, washing, etc. It is almost otherworldly-- beautifully and flawlessly written in my humble opinion. I also was particularly moved by the landscape--Adair riding Whiskey, returning home, etc. Perhaps it is just me, but the writing was quite sensuous.
As far as characterization, Adair is much more than a one-dimensional static character. She is a child when she sets out with her sisters seeking her father's whereabouts, but she is much more when she returns home. She both feels and acts. Neumann is not what this novel is about; it is mainly Adair's story, but also the story of all those who lost their lives, homes, livelihoods, so senselessly in the Civil War, and their journeys to find something meaningful in all that chaos. Which brings me to the chapter-introducing bits and pieces from letters, etc.
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52 of 60 people found the following review helpful By Linda Linguvic HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on April 29, 2002
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is based on both scrupulous research about the Civil War, as well as stories of the author's own family and neighbors which have been passed down through the generations. For its literary style and emotion impact, it's being compared to "Cold Mountain", a tremendously successful novel that also brought the realities of the Civil War to life through the experiences of a single character.
There's an authenticity about the setting which is augmented by each chapter heading which includes long excepts from actual period documents. This framework works well, as do all the little details of the period, which seemed to just pick me up and set me down right in the middle of the Ozark region in the 1860s. And some of her descriptive passages seemed like pure poetry. Instead of focusing on the big battles, it is about bloodshed and fear and tumultuous conditions for the average person during those awful times. The heroine, Adair Colley, is just 18 years old when the war starts. When Union troops burn her house and imprison her father, she takes to the road with her two younger sisters, only to be captured and sent to a federal women's prison in St. Louis. The conditions there are harsh and she suffers from fever, but refuses to make a confession that might put her brother and neighbors in danger. Somehow, though, she has a romance with the Union officer who interrogates her, helps her escape, and vows to return to her after the war.
This is where the credibility of the book broke down for me. She's just a little too pretty, has a little too much grit, and there is little, if any complexity to her character.
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