Girl Waits With Gun, Amy Stewart
Published September 1st 2015 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Hardcover, 416 pages
Source: e-ARC from NetGalley
Constance Kopp doesn’t quite fit the mold. She towers over most men, has no interest in marriage or domestic affairs, and has been isolated from the world since a family secret sent her and her sisters into hiding fifteen years ago. One day a belligerent and powerful silk factory owner runs down their buggy, and a dispute over damages turns into a war of bricks, bullets, and threats as he unleashes his gang on their family farm. When the sheriff enlists her help in convicting the men, Constance is forced to confront her past and defend her family — and she does it in a way that few women of 1914 would have dared.
Seriously, don’t you want to read this book just looking at the cover? It’s fabulous!
When a wildly driven car crashes into her family’s buggy Constance Kopp starts her sisters down a path that alters their lives completely. The Kopp sisters have lived independently on their farm since their mother’s death. They’re stretched fairly thin, but wouldn’t have it any other way. Everyone they meet is sure they must need a male protector to rescue them – but they most definitely do not. Marriage is not an option for the older sisters; and though their older brother continually offers them a place in his home they turn him down each time.
Constance realizes that the loss of the buggy is more than she and her sisters can afford and sends a letter to the driver of the car, Henry Kaufman, requesting that he pay $50 for repairs. When her letters are ignored Constance travels to his silk dyeing factory and learns Kaufman is a powerful bully with a gang of drunken followers and that she has put herself and her sisters directly into his sights. As I read I had to keep reminding myself that this was really Constance Kopp’s life – and what a life! Union busting, the Black Hand, kidnapping threats and bricks thrown through windows. I kept thinking – I’d back out of this NOW and she kept bravely forging on ahead.
There was no gripping mystery to be solved, but I was still caught up in the book to see if Constance could out maneuver Kaufman. Could she get her $50 and keep her sisters safe? Would the Kopp sisters leave the farm that they were so determined to keep for themselves? I won’t spoil these questions for you, but you should read to find out! I appreciated the thorough afterword that laid out what was fact vs. fiction and I think Stewart added well where she did. The use of the newspaper headlines was really great – especially when they were about Constance herself!
Constance Kopp was a woman ahead of her time and I really enjoyed her story. The pacing was a bit slow for me at times, but this didn’t happen over a short period of time and perhaps that’s reflected in the way Stewart did pace it out. I am very curious about how Constance’s life continued after she became the first female deputy sheriff and I wonder if there’s another book in the works?
Thank you to TJ at My Book Strings for bringing this book to my attention earlier this year!
Thank you Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and NetGalley for this advance copy in exchange for an honest review.