By Paulette Jiles
Enemy Women written by Paulette Jiles is an extraordinary, well researched historical fiction novel. The start of every chapter, Jiles includes real Civil War letters and journal entries the have a relation to the chapter. These letters provide historical background knowledge which the author builds off of in future chapter. Ms. Jiles keeps readers on their toes with her dramatic and emotional tone in every page of the novel. Throughout her story, there is not just one single mood, it varies depending on the chapter and sometimes the mood is expressed as fear, anxiety, unknowing, and love. The intended audience of Enemy Women is young adults, with an interest in the historic Civil War era but want romance and struggle in the novel too.
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 and deranged in a filthy women’s prison.
But young Adair finds that love can live even in a place of horror and despair. Her interrogator, a Union major, falls in love with her and vows to return for her when the fighting is over. Before he leaves for battle, he bestows upon her a precious gift: freedom. Now an escaped “enemy woman,” Adair must make her harrowing way south buoyed by a promise . . . seeking a home and a family that may be nothing more than a memory.