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Enemy Women: A Novel
ISBN 0060938099 / 9780060938093 / 0-06-093809-9
Publisher Harper Perennial
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Enemy Women, the outstanding first novel by poet Paulette Jiles, leads us into new terrain, both geographic and historical, in the war between the states. Set in the Missouri Ozarks during the Civil War, Jiles's story focuses on the trying times of 18-year-old heroine Adair Colley. When a group of renegade Union militiamen attacks the Colley home, stealing family possessions, burning everything down, and taking away her father--an apolitical judge--Adair gathers the remnants of her clothes and mounts a rescue effort. Unfortunately, she is falsely accused of being a Confederate spy, a charge that lands her in a squalid women's prison run by a decent commandant embarrassed by his post. After he helps her escape, the two agree to seek out one another after the war; their separate, harrowing journeys and the evolution of each character throughout make for breathtaking action and powerful writing. Each chapter of Enemy Women begins with excerpts from historical testimony about this terrible period in the Civil War, when marauding soldiers pillaged and murdered whole families and communities at will. These documents add depth and resonance to Jiles's remarkable narrative. --Tom Keogh [via]