Enemy Women

By Paulette Jiles,

Book cover of Enemy Women

Book description

"A gritty, memorable book ... it is a delight from start to finish, without a single misstep." Tracy Chevalier

Missouri, 1865. Adair Colley and her family have managed to hide from the bloody Armageddon of the American Civil War, but finally even their remote mountain farm cannot escape the plundering…

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Why read it?

4 authors picked Enemy Women as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

I love this book mainly because the main character is an ordinary young woman with grit who defies all hostility in Missouri during the Civil War, including neighbors who turn against her.

I went through lots of emotions with this character during her journey to finding love, from anger and trepidation to wonder and exhilaration. The setting, historical context, and unsentimental yet tender and poetic writing make this book a triumph. 

This book took me somewhere new for a Civil War novel—the border state of Missouri.

Jiles is a poet, which is evident in her evocative prose. Visceral and unexpected details in every sentence put me right into the story of the young women from Missouri whose father was taken and whose home was destroyed by Union militia despite the family’s neutrality.

I found the excerpts from real letters and newspapers at the beginning of each chapter intriguing. Readers will be captivated by eighteen-year-old Adair, who is courageous, smart, and spirited.

From Kinley's list on American Civil War great female leads.

Set during the Civil War, this novel of Adair Colley, a young Confederate woman in a Union prison who falls in love with her jailer, proves that love can thrive even in the midst of horrific suffering.

The book also has one of literature’s most compelling portraits of a horse, who is just as much of a character here as the humans.

This story takes place during the Civil War, a complex time, which makes this a complex story. It’s a beautifully written novel, and Jiles’ experience as a poet serves her well. I love nothing more than beautiful sentences, and add to that a likeable main character such as Adair Colley, and those two combinations equal win/win. While Adair is reminiscent of Scarlett O’Hara, her background is quite the opposite. What made the story also stand out for me was each chapter began with actual correspondences, diary entries, and accounts taken during this timeframe. It enhanced my reading in that I…

From Donna's list on if you love Southern fiction.

Want books like Enemy Women?

Our community of 11,000+ authors has personally recommended 100 books like Enemy Women.

Browse books like Enemy Women

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Missouri, the American Civil War, and presidential biography?

11,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about Missouri, the American Civil War, and presidential biography.

Missouri Explore 38 books about Missouri
The American Civil War Explore 302 books about the American Civil War
Presidential Biography Explore 19 books about presidential biography