Book info

Enemy Women (2007)

Enemy Women (2007)
3.61 of 5 Votes: 4
0061337633 (ISBN13: 9780061337635)
william morrow paperbacks
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Enemy Women (2007)
Enemy Women (2007)

About book: 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 war, the two main characters are trying to still live life in a more normal mental landscape -- they were dreaming of the future and falling in love. Adair Colley and Major Will Neumann were trying to live out the Civil War nightmare actually very close to the end of the war, which, somewhere in their minds, may have given them some hope. But war stays with you for a long time, as parts of the story seem to represent. As we know deaths related to serious illness in earlier wars were astounding and this danger reached out to civilians as well. Also, there was often no home to return to in the case of those who left to fight or civilians who were forced to leave their homes for all the many reasons.This is an impactful side of war history that authorities aren’t always so good about placing in mainstream history school curriculum. What happened at the edges of the war seems to give us just as much to think about as what happened in Gettysburg and Vicksburg. I liked the vignettes introducing each chapter. The characters were very ordinary people and show that ordinary people aren’t particularly good at fighting a war, dealing with government policies (in William’s case), escaping from military prison (Adair distractedly destroys the pass that would allow her to travel safe through the checkpoints), or understanding the whole mess that war really is.I loved the writing and it includes some of the best dialog I have seen. The emotion between the characters is simple and touching -- a beautiful romance and not overdone or overly sentimental. The consciousness of the characters is well written. I will certainly look for more writing by Jiles.

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, Adair’s tactless mouth gets her in trouble and she is imprisoned in St. Louis and her sisters flee to relatives. The novel is about the civil war peripherally and directly and how it impacts Adair and her life.“There will be trouble in Missouri until the Secesh are subjugated and made to know that they are not only powerless, but that any attempts to make trouble here will bring upon them certain destruction and this . . . must not be confined to soldiers and fighting men, but must be extended to non-combatant men and women.” (Page 1 from beginning correspondence)Jiles peppers the beginning of each chapter with “authentic” correspondence and dispatches from union and confederates alike, as well as from ordinary people. On some occasions, these passages speak directly or indirectly to the action in the chapters they precede, but on others they do nothing more than offer additional background to the war and its terror. They do provide a certain authenticity to a novel that is more fanciful in nature as Adair seems younger than her 18 years. She sees the world as a young girl who believes that justice always prevails, and despite the challenges she faces, she seems unable to let go of her naivete. She often is surprised by how people act and react, which she finds extremely disappointing. Unfortunately, not much changes with Adair’s character throughout the book. At times, she can be cunning and quick to make decisions that are beneficial, but at other times, she’s fumbling around and unable to be courageous.Read the full review on Aug. 26:
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Why do some authors not use quotation marks? I think in some cases it can be stylistically useful, but here it was just distracting and made it difficult to really get into the book. It muddled the story and I had to keep looking back to see if I was reading dialogue or narrative, and when it was dialogue, I wasn't always sure who was speaking. And I was so looking forward to reading this for book club. Women in the civil war, in a part of the country you don't read about very often--it all sounded so interesting. Unfortunately, I had such a hard time with it and stopped about halfway.
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 story itself ended up being a bit slow as it's mostly one woman's lone journey back home without much interaction with other characters. If you are interested in the Civil War or in the Ozarks, this may be quite to your liking. 32/60 tbr box.
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 clothing that have to be abandoned. The heroine states a truth about her devastateded home in Missouri. She..."had learned the specific gravity of possessions, and how they weighed a person down."
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