This is a book with backbone, written with tough, haunting eloquence by an author determined to capture the immediacy of her heroine's wartime odyssey. And Ms. Jiles, in her debut novel, has brought spellbinding intensity to the process of leading readers backward through time.
Janet Maslin - New York Times
Comparisons with Charles Frazier's Cold Mountain are bound to arise, especially with regard to Adair's odyssey. Her adventures in the ravaged countryside are much more credible than Inman's in Frazier's novel, and the characters she meets are not caricatures or symbols; nor is Jiles's ending sentimental. It may not be saying much to call this novel better—Cold Mountain was overrated—but the real excitement in Enemy Women lies in watching a writer become an accomplished novelist before one's eyes. As the narrative gathers steam, Jiles's descriptions come alive and her dialogue attains a homely authenticity.
New York Times Book Review
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. Enemy Women deserves the Pulitzer Prize.
Toronto Globe and Mail
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.
(Adult/High School) A well-told historical novel.... [T]his 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.
As a love story, this one quickly loses steam, but it becomes obvious that Jiles is a gifted Missouri historian who brings to light many overlooked Civil War facts and acutely portrays Missouri's logistic misfortune as a hotbed of both Union and Confederate violence.— Elsa Gaztambide
The whole book possesses the quality of a timeless fable and its style—sinewy, restrained and yet hauntingly eloquent—takes a while to fully engage, but once it does it never relinquishes its grip upon the imagination.... Surprisingly lyrical and yet utterly unsentimental, it's a powerful tale of hope and self-determination set in a time of war.
Kirkus Reviews - UK
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