STARRED REVIEW
September 2015

Constance stands her ground

By Amy Stewart
Constance Kopp has never quite fit in: She is tall and broad-shouldered, and she doesn’t care much for keeping house—a rarity for women in 1914. She sticks close to her sisters, Norma and Fleurette, and together they form an odd but functional trio. Norma is stoic and reserved; Constance is bold and proud; and Fleurette, the youngest, is wide-eyed and excitable. Since the death of their mother, the sisters have become closer than ever, living in the countryside after the need to keep secrets forced their move from the city more than 15 years prior.
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Constance Kopp has never quite fit in: She is tall and broad-shouldered, and she doesn’t care much for keeping house—a rarity for women in 1914. She sticks close to her sisters, Norma and Fleurette, and together they form an odd but functional trio. Norma is stoic and reserved; Constance is bold and proud; and Fleurette, the youngest, is wide-eyed and excitable. Since the death of their mother, the sisters have become closer than ever, living in the countryside after the need to keep secrets forced their move from the city more than 15 years prior.

On a rare trip into town, the sisters have an altercation with a powerful silk factory owner, Henry Kaufman, who refuses to assume responsibility for the damage he caused to the family wagon. Constance seeks restitution and raises Kaufman’s ire. As Constance defends her family, she is forced to confront her past and brace for a new future.

Author Amy Stewart is best known for her nonfiction (The Drunken Botanist; Wicked Plants). Her first novel, Girl Waits with Gun, grew out of a newspaper clipping about the Kopps that she discovered during her research on a gin smuggler named Henry Kaufman. While Stewart never learned if the smuggler Kaufman was the same man who antagonized the sisters, she was intrigued by the little-known Constance Kopp, who later became one of the first female deputy sheriffs.

Through painstaking attention to detail, Stewart has created an elegant, moving narrative of an unusual real-life woman who dared defy the odds to ensure the safety of her family.

 

This article was originally published in the September 2015 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

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Girl Waits with Gun

Girl Waits with Gun

By Amy Stewart
HMH
ISBN 9780544409910

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