Summary and book reviews of Girl Waits with Gun by Amy Stewart

Girl Waits with Gun

by Amy Stewart

Girl Waits with Gun by Amy Stewart
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  • First Published:
    Sep 2015, 416 pages
    Paperback:
    May 2016, 448 pages

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Book Summary

An enthralling novel based on the forgotten true adventures 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. 

1

Our troubles began in the summer of 1914, the year I turned thirty-five. The Archduke of Austria had just been assassinated, the Mexicans were revolting, and absolutely nothing was happening at our house, which explains why all three of us were riding to Paterson on the most trivial of errands. Never had a larger committee been convened to make a decision about the purchase of mustard powder and the replacement of a claw hammer whose handle had split from age and misuse.

Against my better judgment I allowed Fleurette to drive. Norma was reading to us from the newspaper as she always did.

"'Man's Trousers Cause Death,' " Norma called out.

"It doesn't say that." Fleurette snorted and turned around to get a look at the paper. The reins slid out of her hands.

"It does," Norma said. "It says that a Teamster was in the habit of hanging his trousers over the gas jet at night but, being under the influence of liquor, didn't notice that the trousers smothered the flame."

"...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
  1. From horse-drawn wagons to carrier pigeons, the norms of 1914 obviously no longer exist today. Talk about the world Constance and her sisters live in, in New Jersey and on their farm. Are there any aspects of life in 1914 you wish had survived?
  2. After Henry Kaufman's first visit to their farm, Constance views her sisters from afar and thinks, "They looked like those fuzzy figures in a picture postcard, frozen in place, staring out from some world that no longer existed" (p. 52). What does Constance mean? What is the world that no longer exists? Why is it gone, and what has replaced it?
  3. What is it about Lucy Blake's story that haunts Constance so? Why do you think she helps her when interfering with Henry Kaufman has ...
Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!

Some of the recent comments posted about Girl Waits with Gun. Join the discussion! You can see the full discussion here.

"Girl" versus "Woman"
Girl works for me as well. I really didn't think about it. As to using girl rather than women, I feel we refer yo ourselves using both terms depending on the events. There are women's clubs as well as statements about going out with the girls for... - Peggy H

Are there any aspects of life in 1914 you wish had survived?
Closeness of extended family is somewhat missing today. Personal connections are Aldo going by the wayside. Having a great aunt in a similar situation to Constance and having it handled the same way was an interesting connection to me. I'm not ... - Peggy H

Beyond the Book: The Real-Life Kopp Sisters
Really interesting. - Peggy H

Constance views her sisters from afar and thinks, "They looked like those fuzzy figures in a picture postcard, frozen in place, staring out from some world that no longer existed" What does she mean?
I looked at them as more of a picture of the changing role of women. This also occurs when the reader meets Mrs Garfinkel and the various secretaries in the book. They were somewhat typical of the world for women at the time, some of whom did not ... - Peggy H

Did you suspect the family secret? When did you figure it out?
I admit I thought there was something different about the relationship so I was not surprised. I did like the way we, the reader learned about it, but wonder about the family reaction. - Peggy H

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

Based on newspaper accounts and family interviews, Amy Stewart replays history and creates a gripping story along the way. I thoroughly immersed myself in this intriguing and delightful story of the Kopp sisters, each vulnerable yet strong in her own right. I particularly loved the oldest, Constance, who with true grit, courage, cleverness, resourcefulness and independence, meets the challenges that threaten her family.   (Reviewed by BookBrowse First Impression Reviewers).

Full Review (663 words).

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Media Reviews

Library Journal

Historical fiction fans and followers of Rhys Bowen's "Molly Murphy" mysteries and Victoria Thompson's "Gaslight Mystery" series will delight in the eccentric and feisty Kopp women.

Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. A surprising Kopp family secret, a kidnapped baby, and other twists consistently ratchet up the stakes throughout, resulting in an exhilarating yarn.

Booklist

Starred Review. Details from the historical record are accurately portrayed by villains and good guys alike, and readers will cross their fingers for the further adventures of Constance and Sheriff Heath. For fans of the Phryne Fisher series by Kerry Greenwood, and the Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes mysteries by Laurie R. King.

Kirkus Reviews

More adventures involving gutsy Constance, quietly determined Sheriff Heath, and a lively cast of supporting characters would be most welcome.

Author Blurb Elizabeth Gilbert
A smart, romping adventure, featuring some of the most memorable and powerful female characters I've seen in print for a long time. I loved every page as I followed the Kopp sisters through a too-good-to-be-true (but mostly true!) tale of violence, courage, stubbornness, and resourcefulness.

Reader Reviews

Sylvia

Girl Waits with Gun is Riveting
I could not put this down. The heroine's war against a rich young man who thought he was entitled to ride roughshod over the rights of women had a true flavor of being from another era.

Nae Priest

Rompin' Stompin' Read of a Book!
I loved, loved, loved this book, but I suppose that is pretty obvious by the very short time it took me to gobble this one up. Two days ... shoot I am not sure I ever got through a Longmire novel as quickly as I read this one and that is a really big...   Read More

CarolK

Give a Girl a Revolver
Girl Waits With Gun is a delightful romp. Though the plot is quite sinister, it is done in a lighthearted way. It seems suitable for those of you who do not care for graphic violence. The sisters, Constance, Norma and Fleurette Kopp are vividly drawn...   Read More

Claire M. (New York, NY)

Girl Waits with Gun
This delightful adventure reminds me of Nancy Drew and Cherry Ames; adventure series for girls back in the 50's. This is an adult version but one of historical fiction. Our chief heroine, Constance Kopp is taller, braver, and quite formidable for a ...   Read More

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Beyond the Book

The Real-Life Kopp Sisters

Girl Waits With Gun is historical fiction based on the true-life accounts of the Kopp sisters of New Jersey, whose lives were irrevocably changed after one roadside incident when their horse-driven buggy was damaged by a car.

The car's owner, Henry Kaufman, was a local industrialist who, along with his brother, owned a silk dyeing plant in Paterson, NJ. Refusing to acknowledge the accident and pay the damages, Kaufman instead chose to terrorize the sisters, sending them death threats by mail and generally harassing them for the better portion of a year.

Fleurette and Constance (on the right) Constance, the oldest of the three, who according to newspaper accounts stood six feet tall and weighed close to 180 pounds, decided enough was enough and teamed up with the local ...

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