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Enemy Women

3.66  ·  Rating Details ·  3,630 Ratings  ·  488 Reviews

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

Paperback, 320 pages
Published 2003 by Fourth Estate (first published January 1st 2002)
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Drw Yes. She sits and watches Neumann call out for her for a long time. He calls out "Adair! I will not stop looking until I find you."

Then, while she…more
Yes. She sits and watches Neumann call out for her for a long time. He calls out "Adair! I will not stop looking until I find you."

Then, while she sits and watches him from a distance, the wind comes up, the new moon glints through the trees, Neumann sits on the veranda and lights a cigar, and:

"She rose to her feet and laid the silver brush down on her bundle. She gathered her skirts in her hand and began to walk down the hill, hurrying, before the light failed."(less)

Community Reviews

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May 08, 2017 Phyllis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Jan 23, 2008 Kd rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Laurie Notaro
Oct 22, 2014 Laurie Notaro rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Leah Beecher
Aug 05, 2012 Leah Beecher rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Oct 28, 2014 Sarah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
This is a story about a young lady during the civil war. Her father is taken, the house is burned, the horses stolen, family scattered and she ends up in a female prison in Missouri. I guess that is enough to keep a reader interested. But here's why I liked it: it's from the Southern perspective (it's not just the winners who write history) but it's not the cliche and stereotypical south. It's really the story of civilian collateral damage as they try to survive the war. There are no safe places ...more
May 04, 2010 Suzanne rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: abandoned
I really wanted to like this book. I usually enjoy Civil War stories & I have visited SE Missouri, so I could picture it in my mind. But this book was awful! The author gave no real background of the characters, and no insight into what was going on mentally and emotionally. Because of this, there was no connection with them; I just didn't care enough about them to continue reading past page 70. The other thing that bothered me about this book was the way it was written. Many sentences were ...more
Feb 20, 2009 Melissa rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction

Enemy Women is the Odyssean tale of Adair Colley during the final years of the Civil War. Adair has lost her family and her home to a gang of renegade militia men patrolling southeastern Missouri. She is later falsely accused of being a spy for the confederacy, and sent to prison. There she meets Union Maj. William Neumann, who is in charge of deposing her, and in doing so, they both become besotted. Ultimately, Adair escapes prison and spends the remain
Jan 22, 2012 Lizpeveto rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Read for a book discussion group. Excellent book. Having been to MO, I was aware of how many Civil War battles were fought in the state. The descriptions of the political complications for both Union and Confederate is what makes the story personal because it details how it impacts individuals, disrupts families, whole communities and the breakdown of social order. It was so difficult for friends and neighbors as half were Confederate and half were Union and sometimes there was no choice. If you ...more
I found this book very hard to "get into" for a number of reasons. One of which was no quotation marks were used, ever, and this made it hard for me to read as I normally do; each character has their own voice in my head and when no quotation marks are used it can mess my internal narration up.

Another problem I had was I couldn't find the right tone while reading Adair's dialogue or narration. I couldn't tell if she was genuine, snarky, witty, or naive. When she was speaking with her love intere
Roxy Rowe
Jan 27, 2017 Roxy Rowe rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It's hard for me to believe that this is Jiles' first book. I started with her latest, News of the World, and went backwards chronologically, and was never disappointed. But this is so beautifully and tragically told, and I literally held my breath a few times, and raced through some pages, and dawdled over others. At the last page, I let out a long breath that I hadn't known I was holding in - oh my...
This novel says a lot about the complicated process of fighting a civil war in such a geographically large country as the U.S. What to do in the western states when it comes to the mix of loyalties there, especially in Missouri? How do you police areas like these? And what happens when the militia goes rogue? Is this the type of atmosphere anyone was fighting the U.S. Civil War to gain? No, probably not, but it certainly came to be, lasting past the actual end of the war.

On opposite sides of the
Aug 15, 2010 Em rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical
Enemy Women by Paulette Jiles is a Civil War tale set in St. Louis, Missouri.
Adair Colley is an eighteen-year-old lady whose family vowed to remain neutral during the time of war. However, the Union soldiers ruined their house and took their father away leaving her with the responsibility to take care of her two younger sisters.
But shortly, Adair, like many other women sent to prison, was falsely accused of aiding the guerillas. While behind the bars, Adair caught the attention of Major William
Lisa (Harmonybites)
Jun 04, 2011 Lisa (Harmonybites) rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: The Kind Who Admire Cormac McCarthy
This entire novel is told without using quotation marks for dialogue. Personally, I can't help but find this a literary affectation without artistic value that sacrifices clarity without any gain. I recently read and loved Alice Walker's The Color Purple, which also doesn't use quotation marks. But that novel was told through letters, and the writer was supposed to be semi-literate, so there it worked, and Walker's novel flowed well enough, was riveting enough, it didn't bother me in the least. ...more
Jul 11, 2011 Lois rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The best novel I have read in a very long time - Missouri during the Civil War, fascinating history, beautifully written. The role of rogue militias, guerrilla fighters and their impact on non-combatants was new to me. Adventure, suspense, romance and a spirited young heroine ( reminiscent of Scarlet O'Hara?) you care about who has to lie and steal in order to survive. Each of the short chapters is introduced with selections from primary sources - journals, letters, official reports, etc. One sm ...more
Apr 24, 2017 Mark rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An interesting and entertaining look at a slice of the Civil War that has been overlooked. Jiles is a fine writer.
Aug 01, 2011 Serena rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Enemy Women by Paulette Jiles is set during the U.S. Civil War in Missouri, which is torn apart by Union ties and Confederate rebel robberies and mischief. Adair Colley’s father is taken by Union militia on suspicion of helping rebels, and the union soldiers have ripped through their home and taken many of their belongings. Following the capture of her father, she and her sisters walk to inquire about their father’s imprisonment and to possibly barter for his freedom. However, along the journey, ...more
Feb 19, 2017 SEY rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Paulette Giles first historical novel, my second book by this author, is a story of women refugees caught in between warring factions. it's a classic quest with a heroine instead of a hero and a love story that is believable between supposed enemies .The author uses primary sources to validate the horrors of the Civil War, sometimes a bit too much, in this small pocket of the Ozarks in south eastern Tennessee but the writing is incredible at times. the narrative pulls you through like the water ...more
Terriann Rea-gaustad
Found this book on the shelf at a relative's house during a visit, and I needed something to read at bedtime, so I gave it a shot - what a happy accident! Civil War fiction is a favorite genre of mine anyway, so it was a pleasing find. This book is outstanding! If you liked Cold Mountain, you will almost certainly like this as much.

Each chapter has one or more excerpts from actual war records of some sort - correspondence from private citizens, military records, etc. - with subject matter simil
John P.
Aug 12, 2012 John P. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book captures a time when the Ozarks were filled with terror and the worst of human kinds dark side rising to the top. Lawlessness reined down on the isolated communities of Southeast Missouri. The story is told through the eyes of Adair Randolph Colley, a young woman filled with spirit and a single focus. Her home on the Little Black River in Ripley County is violated by the evils of war and her family is torn apart and separated by the Civil War. If you want to read a story that has a hap ...more
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
If I could give one suggestion, it would be to skip the Prologue altogether unless you are really into Civil War history. I almost stopped reading the book after just 7 pages, but once the story of Adair gets into full swing, it was much better in my opinion. Her storyline then sort of pulsates on like a slow drumbeat until the final page. Nothing too exciting, but constant. Growing up in So. Missouri, Adair really does not have an opinion on which side, Confederate or Union, she should sympathi ...more
Lezlee Hays
I wanted to get through this book because it's our book club selection. I found myself highly distracted with her use of poetic license by way of ditching all quotations marks. I've read other books who have done this effectively, but here, it doesn't work. The book is heavy on dialogue and so it mentally tripped me up paragraph after paragraph page after page. And to be honest that massively affected my ability to be taken with the story or to focus on the plot. In the end, I just couldn't forg ...more
Jan 25, 2017 Patricia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Set in Missouri during the Civil War, Adair Colley and her family are attacked one night because a neighbor family has turned them in accusing them of cutting the telegraph lines. Adair's father, Judge Marquis Colley, is brutally beaten and taken away along with their horses. Adair sends her sisters, Savannah and Mary, to safety. Adair departs to find her father and their horses.
Adair is caught and sent to prison which was common during the war. She meets Major William Neumann, a Union officer,
Aug 12, 2009 Ann-Marie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The cover copy & blurbs mention Cold Mountain repeatedly, and indeed, it did remind me strongly of Cold Mountain. (There’s actually an Iron Mountain that figures in the story.) But this time, it’s a woman who’s making a journey home, from prison in St. Louis to what remains of her family’s burned out farmhouse in southeast Missouri. The language (dialect) was wonderful and the prose poetical. Horses feature almost as characters in their own right. Really engrossing story.

Here's a quotation:
First, the style was a bit off-putting. Jiles does not use quotation marks. This absence of punctuation makes for more than a few mis- and rereadings of the dialogue, which takes me out of the story and distances me from the characters. Second, each chapter opens with several paragraphs of primary and/or secondary source material. While I appreciate the lengths the author goes to for authenticity, and while the material was interesting and helpful, it again takes me out of the story. Then the st ...more
Jun 09, 2009 Elizabeth rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great read! This book revealed to me a side of the Civil War I had never explored, the war's impact on noncombatants in the border states. As a resident of Missouri, I am familiar with the setting, and read the book with the Missouri Atlas & Gazetteer at my side so I could track Adair's journey. Jile's descriptions of the Missouri terrain are spot-on. Other reviewers have objected to the lack of quotation marks and the unusual dialect. The lack of punctuation was no problem to me, and I foun ...more
Nov 05, 2011 Jay rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Jiles tells a story that has great characters. Adair Colley is a feisty sparkplug of a girl, with plenty of non-sequiturs in her flirty speech. But through most of the book she isn’t showing off her personality, she is surviving through horrible conditions in the Civil War. The book felt quite heavy because of the constant and continuing problems that the characters all have, and that heaviness was felt by this reader. The descriptions of the places and some events were also very well written an ...more
May 09, 2011 Nicole rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I really wanted to like this book. It seemed like a good story when I picked it up, but in the end it just didn't work.

The lack of quotation marks was awful. It took me twice as long to read because I couldn't figure out who was talking.

As for her relationship, there was so much more that could have been done but it was never fleshed out AT ALL! As others have said, I am much more convinced she loved her horse more than she did him.

The whole book just didn't seem believable to me. I'm not one
Jun 06, 2011 Ashley rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
It was at times interesting but for the most part I found it kind of boring and monotonous. It took awhile to get into it, and several times I didn't think I would even finish it. The author didn't use a lot of punctuation and throughout the whole book it was confusing as to who was talking and thinking, etc. That was so frustrating that whatever good points the book had, it took away from it. Almost every paragraph had to be re-read to make sure I understood who was talking or thinking, etc.
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Paulette Jiles is an American poet and novelist. Born in Salem, Missouri, she was educated at the University of Missouri with a degree in Romance Lanugages. Jiles lives in the Texas Hill Country on a small ranch.

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“The road to hell was paved with the bones of men who did not know when to quit fighting.” 44 likes
“Then took the quilt out of its linen wrapper for the pleasure of the brilliant colors and the feel of the velvet. The needlework was very fine and regular. Adair hated needlework and she could not imagine sitting and stitching the fine crow’s-foot seams.
Writing was the same, the pinching of thoughts into marks on paper and trying to keep your cursive legible, trying to think of the next thing to say and then behind you on several sheets of paper you find you have left permanent tracks, a trail, upon which anybody could follow you. Stalking you through your deep woods of private thought.
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