Despite the Colley family remaining neutral during the Civil War, the Missouri Union Militia sets fire to their home, leaving young Adair with only her two sisters. Together the three set out to navigate war-torn Missouri – an environment so inhospitable it makes Armageddon seem manageable. Adair is brave and intelligent, but the threats that surround her create an unbeatable monster. Once separated from her sisters, she’s sent to prison in St. Louis on charges of treason. Author Paulette Jiles dramatizes this little known piece of the Civil War – that women were held captive – with bold realism. Luckily Adiar meets someone who can help her, which is lucky for us too, as her friendship offers readers a cheerful break in an otherwise tragic tale.
Those who like historical fiction will appreciate Jiles’ descriptions of the Civil War in the Ozarks and how it affected a number of unlucky women. And if the reader knows the Ozarks well, he or she will have found an author who describes the landscape from the eyes of someone who grew up in the area and evokes its beauty with poetic care. Enemy Women is a compelling novel, very much worth reading.