Enemy Women: A Novel by Paulette Jiles
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
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 remainder of the book trying to get back “home.” And the reader is taken along on the arduous trek with her.
This novel tackles a part of history that I knew nothing about – the role of outlawed militias and guerilla soldiers during the Civil War in Missouri. Also, the widespread imprisonment of women, who the Union charged with aiding and abetting the Confederacy. The author’s descriptive narrative was spot on when portraying the grand scope of the war off of the front lines and the devastation inflicted on families. However, when trying to convince the reader that there was a romance between Maj. Neumann and Adair, she failed miserably. I never once believed these two were in love, let alone, in like. Or that either one would be willing to cross the country in search of each other. Adair had a stronger relationship with her horse and beloved family quilt, than she showed for her Major.
Another criticism – and I’m not sure where to point blame, the editor or author – but this book was written entirely without quotations, which was horribly distracting. I had to re-read passages over and over again to remember who was or was not speaking. Adding punctuation would have made this mediocre book, border on the side of GOOD.
I did luck out by reading this on my vacation to southern Missouri. I kept envisioning the Reeves gang appearing out of the forests of the Ozark Mountains. Ultimately, I thought this book was a fine history lesson, but a marginal, wandering, story, much like Adair.
(Oh, and don’t ask me about the ending! Ugh!)
My Clean Reads rating: Other than a few gruesome war scenes, this was free of any sex or language.
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