Review

Enemy Women

by Paulette Jiles

Read an Excerpt



"During the spring and summer of 1863, various federal commanders
instituted a policy of arresting women and teenage girls...who were
suspected of aiding guerillas...they were confined...in Kansas
City, Missouri." --- THE DEVIL KNOWS HOW TO RIDE: The True Story of
William Clarke Quantrill and His Confederate Raiders by Edward E.
Leslie.

ENEMY WOMEN, by Paulette Jiles, is the story of one of these women.
Adair Colley is a bold, strong-willed and strong-minded 18-year-old
girl and a member of a family that has vowed neutrality in the War
Between the States. An innocent. A bystander. A conscientious
objector.

When Union soldiers destroy her home and take away her father,
Adair becomes the sole caretaker of her two younger sisters. Our
heroine is eventually arrested and falsely accused of enemy
collaboration, then incarcerated in a women's prison in St. Louis
with other like-charged women. Against her better judgment, she
falls in love with a Union officer, Major William Neumann. Finally
freed, but her spirit broken, Adair takes the perilous journey
home, seeking to make the best of her ruined world. Adair's
transformation from fearless to broken mimics the transformation of
the Confederacy, but there is hope for her that love will prevail
despite politics and war.

A lack of quotation marks in the dialogue and frequent excerpts
from actual period correspondence can be somewhat distracting,
especially in the early pages of ENEMY WOMEN, but not enough to
detract from the richness of the text. And, to Jiles's credit, in a
literary period when more renowned historical novelists are facing
charges of blatant plagiarism, Jiles is methodical with her
attributions. She moves with great ease between graphic, epic
battle scenes and more intimate portrayals of Adair's
relationships. As ambitious in scope as it is exact in detail, the
text is pure poetry from start to finish. Jiles takes what could
have been a dry factual story straight from the pages of a high
school history text book and infuses it with beauty and
emotion.

Paulette Jiles is a critically acclaimed poet and memoirist and the
past winner of the Canadian Governor General Award, Canada's
highest literary honor. ENEMY WOMEN, her first novel, is the
product of a true historian's mind.

Reviewed by Roberta O'Hara on January 21, 2011

Enemy Women
by Paulette Jiles

  • Publication Date: February 1, 2002
  • Genres: Fiction, Historical Fiction
  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow
  • ISBN-10: 0066214440
  • ISBN-13: 9780066214443