Enemy Women
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Enemy Women

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3.6 of 5 stars 3.60  ·  rating details  ·  2,229 ratings  ·  335 reviews
From critically acclaimed, award-winning poet and memoirist Paulette Jiles comes a debut novel of startling power and savage beauty -- an extraordinary story of survival and love in the midst of a torn nation's bitter agony.

For the Colleys of southeastern Missouri, the War Between the States is a plague that threatens devastation despite the family's avowed neutrality. For...more
Hardcover, 321 pages
Published February 5th 2002 by William Morrow (first published January 1st 2002)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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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...more
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...more
Suzanne
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
Lizpeveto
Read for a book discussion group. Excellent book. Having been to MO, I was aware of how many Civil War battles were fought in the state. The descriptions of the political complications for both Union and Confederate is what makes the story personal because it details how it impacts individuals, disrupts families, whole communities and the breakdown of social order. It was so difficult for friends and neighbors as half were Confederate and half were Union and sometimes there was no choice. If you...more
Lisa (Harmonybites)
Jun 04, 2011 Lisa (Harmonybites) rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  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
Em
Enemy Women by Paulette Jiles is a Civil War tale set in St. Louis, Missouri.
Adair Colley is an eighteen-year-old lady whose family vowed to remain neutral during the time of war. However, the Union soldiers ruined their house and took their father away leaving her with the responsibility to take care of her two younger sisters.
But shortly, Adair, like many other women sent to prison, was falsely accused of aiding the guerillas. While behind the bars, Adair caught the attention of Major William...more
Serena
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
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...more
John P.
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
☮Karen
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
SarahC
This novel says a lot about the complicated process of fighting a civil war in such a geographically large country as the U.S. What to do in the western states when it comes to the mix of loyalties there, especially in Missouri? How do you police areas like these? And what happens when the militia goes rogue? Is this the type of atmosphere anyone was fighting the U.S. Civil War to gain? No, probably not, but it certainly came to be, lasting past the actual end of the war.

On opposite sides of the...more
Ann-Marie
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:...more
Elizabeth
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
Lois
The best novel I have read in a very long time - Missouri during the Civil War, fascinating history, beautifully written. The role of rogue militias, guerrilla fighters and their impact on non-combatants was new to me. Adventure, suspense, romance and a spirited young heroine ( reminiscent of Scarlet O'Hara?) you care about who has to lie and steal in order to survive. Each of the short chapters is introduced with selections from primary sources - journals, letters, official reports, etc. One sm...more
Bobbi
An enjoyable read, but nothing sensational. About the Civil War in Missouri which turns out was pretty heavy guerrilla warfare. A young woman in southeastern Missouri is arrested unjustly by Union soldiers and sent to a St. Louis prison where she falls in love with a Union officer, escapes and eventually makes her way home. Jiles inserts quotes from actual events during that time, which make the story much more interesting. Without those, I wouldn't have given this even three stars. If you want...more
Luckngrace
Enemy Women featured the lives of people who DIDN'T join either side in the Civil War and the torment of being treated as enemies by both sides. By the end of the book, I got the feeling that few were left alive the southern Missouri. This book made me want to agitate for bringing all our troops home from foreign countries to spare the populaces there as well as protecting our own homeland better. I feel like putting up a fence on all our borders and go back to the isolationist policies that pre...more
Bridget Conroy
This is my first book by this author. I thought this was going to be more about multiple women during the Civil war, it's basically about one woman. Enemy Women implies it is multiple women this story is about but that is not true. It follows one girl after her family's house is burned and robbed and her father is beaten and taken. It is truly a sad book to read about horrible the Civil War was and the things these men did back then to innocent people. It was basically a lawless place so anythin...more
Barbara Gregorich
A very gripping story set in the border state of Missouri during the Civil War. The hero, Adair Colley, is one of many Rebel-sympathizing women imprisoned by the Union Army. Upon her release she must face the dangers of making her way back to the family farm and finding her father.

The characters and setting are wonderfully rendered, as is the confusion people must have felt during the horrors of a civil war. A great deal of research went into this book, and as a reader I appreciate the way the r...more
Laurie
4.5 stars. I thoroughly enjoyed this story! The source material from real letters etc. at the beginning of each chapter really added to it as well. Normally I'm big on deep characterization, but the spare style in that and the rest of the writing suited me just fine here. If there had been more to the ending it probably wouldn't have satisfied the tone of the book, so I'm okay being left there, but I was invested enough that, in a good way, she did leave me wanting more.

An aside on style:
I will...more
Pammy
Enemy Women takes place in the Ozark Mountains during the Civil War. Prior to reading this novel, I was well aware of the roles of women during those times: I knew women often dressed as men for the opportunity to fight along side their men; I knew some were spies, carrying messages across enemy lines. I knew they served as hospital workers, made uniforms, flags and bandages and managed hearth & home while their menfolk were away. I was oblivious as to the treatment of women accused of crime...more
Dan
This title may not interest a reader who needs an intricate, multi-stranded, carefully woven plot. The plot was unique, but not complicated. The only negative in my opinion was the lack of time spent developing the relationship between the central characters before they were separated. Attraction happened almost entirely without explanation. There was no exploration of the emotional path that the two parties took towards loving each other.

What I LOVE about the work is wonderfully and beautifully...more
Jennifer
There's a lot to like in this historical novel: the author brings her unique setting -- rural Missouri during the Civil War -- to life with meticulous historical research and well-crafted period details. I found the story realistic, informative, and engaging, especially given that the Union's detainment of non-combatant Southern women isn't an aspect of the Civil War I am familiar with, nor was I familiar with the guerrilla-style nature of the war that unfolded between the regular armies, the ir...more
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...more
Cindy
I was surprised at how much I liked this one, since I'm not much into historical fiction. It added a whole new perspective on the Civil War that you definitely don't get to read about in school. It had some humor, drama, and a bit of romance. I loved the main character - she's an 18 yo girl imprisoned for helping the confederate soldiers and she has to write a confession to be given more tolerable living conditions. The "confessions" she writes are pure fiction and one was really funny. She has...more
Grania O' Malley
I'm reading this for school. But it's actually a very wonderful story, and I'm enjoying it.

Well. I've finished it. It was a very good book, and I had no idea most of this stuff even went on during the war.
Pearl
There's a lot I liked about this story, and a few things I didn't. It's set in the Ozarks in Missouri, in hardscrabble country. The Civil War is about to end officially. But to the folk in that area, "officially" doesn't mean much. Missouri was "officially" neutral but that didn't mean much either. Most of the story takes place between 1864-65. The war in this area of the country is being fought primarily and viciously between Union Militia and Confederate Rebels. The important generals and thei...more
Jennifer
The book is slow for the first 60 or so pages, so it's important to press on if you find yourself less than interested. I found the history to be incredibly interesting (you will find it more so if you live in Missouri). It's amazing to read about how the Civil War impacted those who weren't involved by choice. I can't imagine living during that time. I really disliked the ending of this book. I don't want to give anything away, but I felt let down. I marked 4 stars, but it was probably more lik...more
Lee
Strange, but I loved this book till about half way. Learned so much about the Civil War and southern Missouri. Hard to believe that the North and South were so well represented in our state, in fact one of the sentences in the book stated that there were just a few slave owners in southern Missouri but almost all households were for the South. About halfway, the book changed from informative to Mr. and Mrs. Superman fighting all odds just to be back together. It became tedious, and drawn out. Ha...more
Marge
A very realistic tale of a young woman's struggle to survive and return to her home during the Civil War in Southeast Missouri. Each chapter is preceded by quotes from the "Official Record" and other historical documents that support the author's story. It is apparent that the treatment of civilians by both Union and Confederate troops was abhorrent. At times this book is difficult to read and difficult to keep track of what's happening and why. But I'm glad to have read it. It lays bare a less-...more
Clif Hostetler
I listened to this in the early 2000s before my Goodreads.com days, thus I didn't write my own review. The following review came from my July 2004 PageADay Book Lover's Calendar. I remember thinking at the time that it was a better book than Cold Mountain but never received much attention.

ENEMY WOMEN, by Paulette Jiles (William Morrow, 2002). Eighteen-year-old Adair Colley, an Ozark schoolmaster’s daughter, has been falsely accused of being a Confederate spy. At the Union prison in St. Louis, t...more
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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.

More about Paulette Jiles...
Stormy Weather The Color Of Lightning Lighthouse Island: A Novel North Spirit: Sojourns Among the Cree and Ojibway Sitting in the Club Car Drinking Rum and Karma-Kola: A Manual of Etiquette for Ladies Crossing Canada by Train

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“The road to hell was paved with the bones of men who did not know when to quit fighting.” 34 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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