Paulette Jiles was born and raised in the Missouri Ozarks. A critically acclaimed poet, she is a past winner of the Canadian Governor General Award, Canada's highest literary honour. She lives with her husband in San Antonio, Texas. ENEMY WOMEN is her first novel.
Adult/High School-A well-told historical novel related by a young woman who was imprisoned during the Civil War. The story begins in southeastern Missouri where spoiled, outspoken Adair Colley, 18, lives with her bookish father, crippled brother, and two younger sisters. When Tim Reeves's Union militia burns their house and barn, taking her father prisoner, Adair and her sisters set off on horseback to plead for his release. Their brother has escaped both the army and Reeves's band by hiding out with Southern guerrillas. Adair is denounced as a spy and taken to prison, where she shares a cell with prostitutes. Soon she comes in contact with Major William Newmann, who tries to convince her to turn in her brother so she can be released. Instead of a confession, Adair composes an elaborate fairy tale. The major is unable to deny his feelings for her, and urges her to escape just before he is transferred to the front lines. The rest of the book deals with her risky trek home and the major's exploits in battle and subsequent release from the army. Similar to Charles Frazier's Cold Mountain (Atlantic Monthly, 1997), this love story gives vivid descriptions of the dangerous countryside and glimpses into the horrors of war and its aftermath. Chapters begin with contemporary journal entries, letters, and news stories. Magical, lyrical, and hauntingly beautiful, this title is a must read for its strong female protagonist and a side of the Civil War not usually dealt with in history books.-Pat Bender, The Shipley School, Bryn Mawr, PA Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
'I loved ENEMY WOMEN. It is a gritty, memorable book, full of the things I like best in a novel - a sparky heroine, an unsentimental love story, a confident retelling of the past. Jiles' experience as a poet has clearly helped her to create a dreamlike style that perfectly reflects the story's war-torn landscape. It is a delight from start to finish, without a single misstep.' Tracy Chevalier, author of GIRL WITH A PEARL EARRING and FALLING ANGELS 'Enemy Women deserves the Pulitzer Prize.' TORONTO GLOBE AND MAIL 'Spellbinding ... a book with backbone, written with tough, haunting eloquence.' THE NEW YORK TIMES 'In a just world, [it] would make Cormac McCarthy grind his teeth in envy... Adair becomes a storyteller to survive; she lies, charms and improvises her way through the wilderness. And so -- triumphantly -- does Paulette Jiles.' THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW
HFor Adair Randolph Colley, at 18 the eldest daughter of a widowed Missouri Ozarks schoolmaster and justice of the peace, the Civil War becomes personal when her father, who has remained neutral in the conflict, is arrested by the Union militia, their home is nearly burned and their possessions stolen. At the start of this spirited first novel, Adair and her two younger sisters try to follow their father's captors, but Adair is falsely denounced as a Confederate spy. At the prison in St. Louis, upright commandant Maj. William Neumann is embarrassed to be interrogating women and has requested a transfer to a fighting unit. He's touched by Adair's beauty and spirit and asks her to give him some information so she can be released. Instead, she writes the story of her life, augmented by folk tales and fables, and he finds himself falling in love. When he gets his reassignment orders, he proposes marriage and asks her to escape, promising to find her after the war. Thus begins a long and terrible journey for each of them. Poet and memoirist Jiles (North Spirit) has written a striking debut novel whose tone lingers poignantly. Not a typical romantic heroine, Adair has the saucy naevete of an unsophisticated countrywoman and the wily bravery born of an honest character. Jiles's strengths include a sure command of period vernacular and knowledge of the social customs among backwoods people, as well as a delicate hand with the love story. Sure to be touted as a new Cold Mountain, this stark, unsentimental, yet touching novel will not suffer in comparison. Agent, Liz Darhansoff. (Feb.) Forecast: Family stories were the basis of Jiles's plot, augmented by Civil War letters and documents prefacing each chapter. While the writing is literary, the book is more accessible than Cold Mountain, and could easily win a wide audience, boosted by regional author appearances. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Poet and memoirist Jiles (North Spirit) enters new territory, both historically and stylistically, with her first novel, which is set in the Missouri Ozarks during the Civil War. Adair Colley is 18 years old and leads a happy, untroubled life with her father, brother, and younger sisters on the family homestead in southeastern Missouri until the war, in the form of the Missouri Union Militia, touches them. After taking the family's possessions, the militia sets fire to the house and barn. Brother John Lee escapes to the woods, but patriarch Marquis Colley is accused of disloyalty, badly beaten, and taken away, leaving the three girls on their own. Though innocent, Adair is soon arrested for spying and sent to prison in St. Louis. How she survives that institution's abominable conditions, falls in love with the major in charge, and manages to return to her old home make for an enthralling narrative. Very little has been written about the degrading condition endured by female prisoners, who were often unjustly accused, and the details that Jiles unearthed via her research add much to our knowledge of the Civil War. Recommended for all public libraries. Ann Fleury, Tampa-Hillsborough P.L., FL Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.