Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Enemy Women” as Want to Read:
Enemy Women
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Enemy Women

3.70  ·  Rating details ·  4,774 ratings  ·  657 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 ...more
Hardcover, 321 pages
Published February 5th 2002 by William Morrow (first published January 1st 2002)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Enemy Women, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
This question contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
This answer contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
This question contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
Michelle Delappe The last part of the Kindle version is the first chapter of some other book they are trying to sell.
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
3.70  · 
Rating details
 ·  4,774 ratings  ·  657 reviews

Sort order
"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
Sep 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
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
May 08, 2017 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 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 rated it it was amazing
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
Diane S ☔
Review soon.
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
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
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
May 04, 2010 rated it did not like it
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 tha
Oct 28, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
Nov 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
War is hell. Any war. And it's just as awful for innocent civilians as soldiers.

That's the basic premise of this perfect book. I've read it twice now, and still find it to be perfect. Not happy. Not fun. But stunning in its portrayal of an ordinary woman trapped by forces she doesn't even understand during the Civil War.

Adair is 18 when Southern militias destroy her family home in Missouri. While fleeing, she is falsely accused of being a traitor, and imprisoned by the Union forces in St. Louis.
Dec 18, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This historical fiction covered an aspect of the Civil War that I haven’t encountered frequently, the brutality endured by civilians living on the western region of the country. Excerpts from actual primary documents begin each chapter convincing the reader of the author’s research and the authenticity of the fictional scenario. The book opens with a group of Union militia attacking the home of the small town school master and his 4 children. The man is brutally beaten and taken captive, the pro ...more
Jun 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was SUCH a good read! The story was well plotted and written and the characters well drawn. Each chapter began with historical quotes collected by, well, historians 🙂 from people who were eye witnesses to the Civil War, or by those who shared memories handed down from their ancestors, with occasional news articles about the war as it happened. In addition to all that goodness, the author’s research was obviously extensive and meticulous. Her depiction of battle scenes put you there, hearing ...more
Jan 22, 2012 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
Sep 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Written by the same author as "News of the World," which I loved, this book is also the telling of a journey -- this time by a young woman from southeast Missouri (where loyalties during the Civil War are fluid, to say the least) who is taken prisoner and jailed in St. Louis. The journey takes place after her escape from jail (with the help of the Union Major whom she has fallen in love with), traveling home in the hope of finding her father and rejoining the man she loves.

I LOVED it! Adair is a
Jan 27, 2017 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...
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 ...more
Feb 20, 2009 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
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 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
Mar 18, 2012 rated it it was ok
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
Jul 11, 2011 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
Ann Hackeling
Nov 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Paulette Jiles words and sentences give me such joy! Her words stir up all kinds of emotions that glue me to her pages. The story of the Adair Colley, the Ozark Mountains, and the civil war is part adventure, part love story, and part history. You'll feel differently about both sides, the North and the South, after reading this beautiful story.
Oct 05, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018, civil-war
I liked it. The main character was tough, having been arrested by the Union, escaping jail and makes her way home stealing and lying if needed just to survive. I never really connected with the writing.
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
Sep 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
After reading News of the World and loving it completely I thought I'd try some of Paulette Jiles' older titles. My library had Enemy Women, so that's how I chose it.

Toward the end of the Civil War, firey Adair Colley of southeastern Missouri ends up in a Union prison camp for women. Her father has been taken, her brother has joined the fighting, and her house has been burned. She and her two younger sisters have nothing to do but start walking toward some kind of life - whether it's a better o
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
Jan 25, 2017 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,
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Manchester Distri...: October 2018 Discussion: "Enemy Women" 5 7 Oct 24, 2018 04:23AM  
Missouri - Show-m...: May 2013 - Enemy Women 12 19 May 25, 2013 05:23AM  
Ending to Enemy Women 14 57 Feb 23, 2013 08:11PM  
  • The Year of Jubilo: A Novel of the Civil War
  • Jarrettsville
  • The Notorious Mrs. Winston
  • Faded Coat of Blue (Abel Jones, #1)
  • Lost Nation
  • Four Spirits
  • Jacob's Ladder: A Story of Virginia During the War
  • The River Between Us
  • Brookland
  • A Separate Country
  • Sweetsmoke
  • Soul Catcher
  • Love and War (Coltrane, #1)
  • Broken Promises
  • Devil's Dream
  • The House of Gentle Men
  • Nowhere Else on Earth
  • On Agate Hill
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.

No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »
“The road to hell was paved with the bones of men who did not know when to quit fighting.” 49 likes
“Outside, as she passed the kitchen window, she watched her breath appear before her in the lamplight and then it died away in moist clouds. This was the smoke of her internal fire and her soul. Every breath was a letter to the world. These she mailed into the cold air leaning back with pursed lips to send it upward. ” 7 likes
More quotes…