Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt on September 1st 2015
Genres: Historical Fiction, Mystery
Source: the Publisher
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Also by this author: Lady Cop Makes Trouble, Miss Kopp's Midnight Confessions, Miss Kopp Just Won't Quit
From the New York Times best-selling author of The Drunken Botanist comes an enthralling novel based on the forgotten true story of one of the nation’s first female deputy sheriffs.
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.
He looked up and said, in a loud, plain voice, “She’s not a regular lady.”
Indeed, Constance Kopp was quite a woman for her time. Constance Amelie Kopp was born in 1878 and as an adult was recorded as being six feet tall. Yes, Constance Kopp was a real-life woman and is credited as being one of America’s first female deputy sheriffs. Little is known of the women but what is known paints a most interesting picture. Amy Stewart gathered as much information as she could and the necessary enrichment truly brought her and the people associated with her to being. Girl Waits With a Gun starts off Constance’s story with a buggy accident involving her and her sisters, Norma and Fleurette, in 1914. The individual responsible for causing the damage and irreversibly damaging their mode of transportation, was one Henry Kaufman, a wealthy silk factory owner. Constance sends him repeated notices of the amount of damage he is responsible for, $50, and when he fails to respond to her goes to collect from him personally. This sets off a long year of harrassment from Kaufman and his associates where they suffer through having bricks thrown through their windows at night to letters threatening to kidnap their youngest sister Fleurette and sell her into white slavery. Not willing to lay down and accept this, Constance goes to the police with the hope that she can put her trust in them to put a stop to the menace in their lives.
Girl Waits With a Gun was an unexpected delight for me but was much more slower paced than I would have figured. I went into this expecting some sort of crime fiction with a historical flair being that it’s set in 1914. This was decidedly less focused on the crime itself but of Constance and of the story behind her becoming a deputy sheriff, and how it was nothing but a complete accident. This story leaned more towards historical-fiction/cozy mystery territory but is unmistakably the smartest story of the genre I’ve read. It took me a solid week to read this and while I had to pace myself, I never lost any interest in this charming tale.
Constance was a fantastic character and imaginably a remarkable individual in her own right. On Amy Stewart’s website she lists a quote from Constance where she said: “Some women prefer to stay at home and take care of the house. Let them. There are plenty who like that kind of work enough to do it. Others want something to do that will take them out among people and affairs. A woman should have the right to do any sort of work she wants to, provided she can do it.” That was the kind of woman she was, one who refused to fall into typical social expectations of the time. In her earlier years she expressed an interest in pursuing a career, as a lawyer or a nurse, but her mother inevitably discouraged that and kept her at home. The story touches briefly and only occasionally on her past when she was around eighteen years old and what truly molded her into the woman she is today. While I loved her take no crap attitude in her mature years, I really loved seeing this younger part of her that was still coming into her own and learning the ways of the world. The situations she found herself in for that time may have been irreversible and life-changing but not only was she strong-willed but she had a supportive family to back her up. She was quite an inspiring individual and I do hope we haven’t seen the last of Constance Kopp.
“…if I could give her one silent gift […] – it would be this: the realization that we have to be a part of the world we live in. We don’t scurry away when we’re in trouble, or when someone else is. We don’t run and hide.”
Thanks to the wonderful individuals over at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, I have a copy to share with one lucky reader! I’ve decided to move away from Rafflecopter again and am opting to keep it simple: leave a comment expressing your interest in this story to enter!
This giveaway is open to US and Canada residents and will end on September 15th, 2015.