Paulette Jiles

Paulette Jiles is a well acclaimed American fictional writer, poet, and memoirist. She has authored some 17 books, some of which are national bestsellers. Born in April 1943, Jiles did her education at University of Missouri and University of Illinois in Romance Languages and Spanish literature respectively. Her first work, Waterloo Express was published in 1973 by Harper Collins who has remained her official publisher since then. She currently lives in San Antonio, Texas with her husband.

Her last novel, News of the World, which was released in 2016, has made her a finalist for the National Book Award. Along with that, she has also received 1984 Governor’s General Award for English Poetry (which is the highest honor for poets in Canada), Pat Lowther award, and Gerald Lampert Award for her 1984 hit novel, Celestial Navigation. Moreover, she won Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Award for Enemy Women (2002). She was also nominated for Books in Canada First Novel Award for The Late Great Human Road Show (1986), and Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize for Sitting in the Club Car Drinking Rum and Karma Kola (1986).

Her novels and poems are highly appreciated and loved by readers as well as critics. In every story or poem, there is a sense of realism and optimism effortlessly fusing with each other which makes them a remarkable piece of literature.

Along with writing and reading, Jiles love singing in the church choir and is a very fun-loving and peaceful person. She is also an adorable blogger, as she writes most cheerful and simple blogs about her everyday life.

Paulette Jiles has penned some marvelous stories and poems which can transport you to an unknown, yet familiar world. Even though her every poem and story have a sense of familiarity, they are all different and leaves a mark of their own. Following is a detailed review and description of some of her most celebrated and loved works.

Enemy Women is Jiles most popular and fascinating story of a lost world. The story’s main plot is set in the war of States in Missouri. And like every other war story, it is haunting, gloomy, and heart-wrenching. The protagonist is an 18-year-old girl, Adair Colley. There is something very unique and surreal about Adair which becomes the prime factor in taking this story forward. Even though she has become a miserable victim of her, the glow and light in her does not end. She is strong and courageous even when she is weak and scared. And maybe it was this only that makes her interrogator, a Union Major, fall in love with her. Thus begin a story of love, freedom, desire, and survival. A captivating story with real-than-life characters, this book will change you in a way you’ll never recover from it. And I think that is the best part about it, apart from Adair, of course.

In my belief, this story is as scary as it can get. And not in scary in terms of ghosts or mystery, but in terms pure human emotions and sacrifices and choices. Again with the war as its driving force, News of the World is a historical fiction set in American civil war. It is a story of a man and a little girl, both are lost, both are scared of the unknown, and both have no significance in this world. Nobody wants them, nobody loves them. As they both set on an unexpected journey together, they find love in a hopeless place.

I think as much real and daunting this novel is, its primary theme is hope and love. Because just when we think everything is falling apart, something comes up that makes us stand up again. As both the man and the girl develop a bond, a relationship that has no name, we realize how simple and complicated life can be at the same time. This novel is a timeless saga which will continue to inspire and motivate its readers for a long time.

There are some things in our lives which make life worth living for, it is almost always either a person or a desire. To live for somebody is probably the most completing feeling ever. But to live for a desire, in a hope that someday you might get it, is as empty as the sky. And that is all that makes Lighthouse Island, Jiles’ most remarkable work ever.

Paulette herself has mentioned on several occasions that this was her most ambitious and most satisfying work. So much so, that a sequel to this novel is currently in the process of coming out.

Like I wrote earlier, Jiles’ novels are similar, yet miles apart from each other. The theme of destruction and loneliness follows in this work as well, but this time, we are taken to a far away foreseen future where we are fighting with only ourselves. A very vivid and real description of the wrecking earth is presented in which our protagonist, Nadia Stepan, an orphan girl, has a dream. This desire of a haven, a sanctuary takes her on an unforgettable adventure which changes the course of her life forever. This novel is for all those who are secretly seeking something from life. Thus, this novel is basically for everybody on the planet.

This memoir will remind you of yourself. On every page, in every line, there is a glimpse of that innocent self we all used to be. It will remind you of the time when you had this spectacular notion about life, about future, which involved great dresses or a breathtaking mansion, or a fairy tale relationship. Just like all of us, Jiles also arrived in Northern Ontario with same notions. But life had some other story to tell her. And as she listened carefully, she realized that this one is much better than the one she had in mind.

This book will give you a beautiful glimpse in Jiles’ life and her journey to where she is now. It is a must for all Jiles’ fans. And even if you’re not, it is a must read if you want to know how to make good out of everything.

Books in order of publication:

Standalone Novels

The Golden Hawks(1978) 
Sitting in the Club Car Drinking Rum and Karma Kola(1986) 
The Late Great Human Road Show(1986) 
Enemy Women(2002) 
Stormy Weather(2007) 
The Color of Lightning(2009) 
Lighthouse Island(2013) 
News of the World(2016) 
Simon the Fiddler(2020) 

Short Story Collections

Waterloo Express(1973) 
Celestial Navigation(1984) 
The Jesse James Poems(1988) 
Song to the Rising Sun(1989) 
Flying Lesson(1995) 

Non-Fiction Books

North Spirit(1995) 
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