Girl Waits with Gun (A Kopp Sisters Novel #1) (Hardcover)
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 9780544409910, 448pp.
Publication Date: September 1, 2015
September 2015 Indie Next List
— Scott Brown (W), Eureka Books, Eureka, CA
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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.
About the Author
Praise For Girl Waits with Gun (A Kopp Sisters Novel #1)…
A New York Times Editors' Choice
A September 2015 Indie Next Pick
One of NPR's "Best Books of 2015"
One of People's "Best Books of the Fall"
One of the Washington Post's "Notable Fiction Books of 2015"
One of USA Today's "New and Noteworthy"
One of New York Post's "Must-Read" Books
One of Cosmopolitan's "24 New Books to Read this Fall"
One of Paste Magazine's "15 of the Best New Books in September 2015"
A Publishers Weekly "Best Book of 2015"
One of BookPage's "Best Books of 2015"
One of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch's "Best Books of 2015"
One of Publishers Lunch's "Favorite Books of 2015, From the News Editor"
A Publishers Marketplace Buzz Book of 2015, Fall/Winter
"Constance Kopp, the feisty heroine of Amy Stewart’s charming novel “Girl Waits With Gun,” sounds like the creation of a master crime writer. At nearly 6 feet tall, Constance is a formidable character who can pack heat, deliver a zinger and catch a criminal without missing a beat. Based on the little-known story of the real Constance Kopp, one of America’s first female deputy sheriffs, the novel is an entertaining and enlightening story of how far one woman will go to protect her family." —Washington Post
“Stewart has spun a fine, historically astute novel...The sisters’ personalities flower under Stewart’s pen, contributing happy notes of comedy to a terrifying situation...And then there is Constance: Sequestered for years in the country and cowed by life, she develops believably into a woman who comes into herself, discovering powers long smothered under shame and resignation. I, for one, would like to see her return to wield them again in further installments.”—New York Times Book Review
"The Kopps are the stars of Stewart's new zippy, winsome novel, Girl Waits With Gun. Filled with historical detail without being weighed down by it, the novel is a cinematic story of the women, the siege instigated by their powerful enemy, and their brave efforts in the face of real violence."—Los Angeles Times
"This rollicking western about a woman who'll do anything to save her family is based on the true tale of one of the country's first female deputy sheriffs." —People Magazine
“This historical novel by the bestselling author of The Drunken Botanist stars an unforgettable, not-to-be-messed-with heroine – one of the nation’s first female deputy sheriffs. It all begins circa 1910 when an earnest request entangles a family with the town thug. The rest is kickass history.”—Marie Claire
"Stewart gives us three sisters whose bond — scratchy and well-worn but stronger for it, as can happen with family ties — is unspoken but effortless. Girl Waits With Gun might sometimes be a story in which truth is stranger than fiction, but it also makes for pretty charming fiction."—NPR
"Fans of strong female characters will find their new favorite heroine in Constance Kopp, who takes a bold stand against a gang that is threatening her family. Debut novelist Amy Stewart's Girl Waits With Gun is a historical thrill ride, racing through funny, tragic, and terrifying scenes. Even better, it's based on the true story of one of the United States' first female deputy sheriffs and her brave, amazing sisters."—Cosmopolitan, "24 New Books to Read this Fall"
"Amy Stewart uses her skills as a researcher to lovingly excavate the wonderful, entirely forgotten story of the Kopp sisters, who briefly dominated East Coast newspaper headlines a century ago...Constance, Norma, and Fleurette live on a New Jersey farm, scraping by without too much difficulty until a road accident entangles them with a crooked silk manufacturer, who begins to harass them – possibly with the help of the Black Hand gang. It’s Constance’s doughty response that gives the book its title, and also its delightful verve...[Stewart's] created several memorable characters here, in particular Constance, who, enterprising and independent but with a closely guarded sorrow in her past, seems like an American answer to Maisie Dobbs."—USA Today
"Brimming with humour, sass, mystery, and delivered to the reader by a narrator so completely resistant to stereotype, Stewart’s novel is worthy of its acclaim from beginning to end...[Constance Kopp is] one of the most inspiring feminist heroines any novel has seen for a long time."—Lip Magazine
"Well-written with sharply drawn characters and the occasional plot twist, Girl Waits With Gun is an absorbing throwback to a bygone era."—Associated Press
"[A] confident, charming, sure-footed debut — a fresh, winning and delightful mystery with a warm heart, impish humor and a heroine who quietly shatters convention."—Dallas Morning News
"If fictional accounts of real women are your thing, then settle in with Girl Waits With Gun and you won't be let down. Amy Stewart recreates one of the world's first female deputy sheriffs, set in the early 1900s, and you will be cheering Constance Kopp on through every page. The race to catch a murderer is thrilling in itself, but the powerful woman driving the book is what will really keep readers turning pages!"—Bustle, "11 Smart Books to Read if You Love Thrillers"
"Girl Waits with Gun [successfully] mines the life of Constance Kopp and the fascinating, riveting, and almost-lost sliver of history that bears her stamp."—Paste Magazine
"[A] marvellous romp."—The Guardian
"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." —BookPage
"It's set in 1914, but its heroine, Constance Kopp, feels about 100 years more modern as she boldly takes on a gang hellbent on destroying her family."—Glamour
"The author of The Drunken Botanist turns to fiction with this lighthearted novel about America's first deputy sheriff, the real-life Constance Kopp, who with her sisters Norma and Fleurette pursued criminals in Paterson, New Jersey, in the early 20th century. Stewart stumbled on the Kopps' story in a 1914 newspaper clipping and says she knew she had to write about them."—Newsday, "What's New"
"Constance Kopp is no Nancy Drew. One of the country’s first female detectives and the subject of bestselling author Amy Stewart’s new novel, Girl Waits with Gun, Kopp is a gun-toting gal plagued by a family secret. Expect a highly willful protagonist penned with the utmost historical accuracy."—San Francisco Magazine
"Laugh out loud [funny]."—Good Housekeeping
“A wry, exciting period novel starring a kick-ass heroine.”—Refinery 29
"[Stewart] weaves together fact and fancy skillfully in her novel, evoking the tense atmosphere of the time and place with lively writing and a good ear for dialogue. The result is a breezy suspense tale that provides considerable insight into what might be called pre-feminist America...Stewart makes vivid the difficulties women, particularly single women, faced 100 years ago without ever letting the moral of the story overwhelm the story itself. Stewart’s breezy style and surefooted sense of the course of a good tale leave the reader wanting to read more adventures of Constance Kopp, girl with a gun."—St. Louis Post-Dispatch, "The Best Books of 2015"
"Amy Stewart tells a tale as captivating as it is genuinely funny in its portrayal of three bewildered sisters who find themselves in a war with one of the most powerful men in their hometown...The book is awesome, period. Hollywood could learn a thing or two...Girl Waits with Gun left me wanting a sequel badly — but, like its heroine, it stands quite sturdily on its own two feet."—The Michigan Daily
"A zippy novel! Well written and paced...Fraught with mystery and humor, the story just gets better with each page turn...Make sure to put this book on your 'to read' list. You will be glad you did."—Great Falls Tribune
"This book is a delight! Author Amy Stewart has written a totally engaging story starting with a traffic incident between horse and buggy and the new-fangled automobile that spins the three Kopp sisters into a world they never wanted to inhabit...Constance is a very appealing heroine. She stands up for what’s right, acknowledges her shortcomings, and defends her loved ones to the nth degree. Youngest sister Fleurette provides comic relief in the story with her fanciful imagination and commentary...Stewart’s historical research is detailed and her descriptions of 1914 New Jersey made me feel as if I were there. This was a book I was sad to see end."—The Missourian
"I guarantee you’ll love this historical novel...Constance was a real person, but Stewart truly brings her to life with her crackling internal monologue and refusal to brook any bullshit in a story that’s best described as, 'What if Furiosa was the lead in Boardwalk Empire?'"—The Mary Sue, "Listers Are Doin’ It for Themselves: 7 Great Female Characters of 2015 You May Have Missed"
“In her stunning new historical novel, bestselling author Amy Stewart brings to life the fascinating true story of three sisters who lived their lives with a courageous flair uncommon for women in the early 1900s. Her lively account of their adventures makes for an amusing, addictive tale…Stewart’s meticulous attention to detail and spot-on portrayal of New Jersey and New York in 1915 brings this intriguing time period into view. Her absorbing novel shows that feminism was alive and well before it had a name.”—Woodbury Magazine
“The Kopp sisters are witty, smart and fearless. They are eccentrics, capable and full of charm. I hope Stewart continues with these women. This is a series I’d follow on the page or PBS. It’s always fun to see the bully finally get what’s coming to him especially when it’s by the most vulnerable and unlikely of characters.”—Coachella Valley Weekly
"Stewart’s delightful narrative is filled with memorable characters, terrific period detail gleaned in part from actual newspaper accounts of the Kopp sisters’ exploits, and a memorable heroine who is tougher than boiled owl and smart as a whip. Give yourself a treat and spend some time with the Kopp sisters of Paterson, N.J., 1914."—Daily Herald(Utah)
"If you love a kick-ass heroine…Read Amy Stewart’s Girl Waits with Gun. This historical novel is set in 1914 and follows the raucous adventures of one of the country’s first female sheriffs as she sets out to convict a gang of criminals."—PureWow, "6 New Books to Read this Fall"
"Well-written with sharply drawn characters and the occasional plot twist, Girl Waits With Gun is an absorbing throwback to a bygone era. It’s a solid book, and Stewart’s helpful notes allow readers to appreciate just how much of the tale is true."—Associated Press
"A sheer delight to read and based on actual events, this debut historical mystery packs the unexpected, the unconventional, and a serendipitous humor into every chapter. 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."—Booklist, starred
"Hardened criminals are no match for pistol-packing spinster Constance Kopp and her redoubtable sisters in this hilarious and exciting period drama by bestseller Stewart (The Drunken Botanist). This is an elegant tale of suspense, mystery, and wry humor...A surprising Kopp family secret, a kidnapped baby, and other twists consistently ratchet up the stakes throughout, resulting in an exhilarating yarn."—Publishers Weekly, starred
"Stewart crafts a solid, absorbing novel based on real-life events—though they're unusual enough to seem invented. Stewart deftly tangles and then unwinds a complicated plot with nice period detail...More adventures involving gutsy Constance, quietly determined Sheriff Heath, and a lively cast of supporting characters would be most welcome."—Kirkus, starred
"In her engaging first novel, Stewart (The Drunken Botanist) draws from the true story of the Kopp sisters (Constance became one of the country’s first female deputy sheriffs) and creates a welcome addition to the genre of the unconventional female sleuth. Colorful, well-drawn characters come to life on the page, and historical details are woven tightly into the narrative. The satisfying conclusion sets up an opening for future Constance Kopp novels. VERDICT: 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."—Library Journal, starred
"This is my favorite find for September. Based on a real trial in 1915, it’s the story of three sisters who run afoul of a thuggish factory owner and then are terrorized in their farmstead.Author Amy Stewart fleshes out the brief facts available with charming characters and lavish period detail."—The News & Observer
"A remarkably fresh novel, the first in what is expected to be a series featuring proto-badass Constance, who in real life went on to become one of the first female deputy sheriffs in America...[A] witty, often wickedly funny mystery...Stewart not only captures America at the dawn of modernity, but at a transformational moment for American women...In Stewart's hands, Constance Kopp embodies that transformation."—NJ.com
"Stewart describes each scene in vibrant detail. Each sister feels fully developed and I feel as if I know them all. Their fierce independence and quirky hobbies, which include training carrier pigeons, endeared them to me. The stunningly crafted plot unfolds as Stewart slowly tells their story. This is one of those books I escaped into; well, escape might be the wrong word. It’s more like I get to step into another life. Truly great fiction like Girl Waits with Gun feels just as authentic as my own life. It’s like such stories are self-contained worlds waiting to be discovered. This book is witty, funny, intriguing and suspenseful. In short, there’s something for just about everyone in it. I hope you get a chance to explore this world for yourself."—YamikaHerald.com"Girl Waits with Gun is undoubtedly the most scintillating historical novel ever written about a trio of sisters in pre-World War I New Jersey...Stewart shows a real feeling for the social constraints and physical discomforts of life in 1914...Stewart deftly reconstructs an era when newfangled technologies such as cars, telephones, and moving pictures existed side by side with horse-drawn carriages and oil lamps, when suffragettes were marching for the right to vote but mostly still subservient to their husbands, or in the case of single women, their brothers or other relatives."—OregonLive.com
"A story that begins with one simple goal — the Kopp sisters want to be reimbursed $50 to repair Kaufman’s damage to their buggy — and spins out into an epic yarn dealing with women’s rights, class conflict and the appointment of one of the country’s first deputy sheriffs."—Ashbury Park Press
"A period thriller that rivals any other historical-based suspense novel. Stewart weaves an amazingly delightful tale, one I was hard pressed to put down. This novel should be listed for debut novel awards."—Suspense Magazine
“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."—Elizabeth Gilbert
"How could you not fall in love with a book about one of the first female deputy sheriffs and her sisters--especially when it’s written by the enthralling Amy Stewart? Full of long-held secrets, kicked-up dust, simmering danger, and oh yes, that gun—this gritty romp illuminates one of history’s strongest women with a hold-your-breath panache."—Caroline Leavitt, New York Times bestselling author of Is This Tomorrow and Pictures of You
“Girl Waits With Gun makes excellent use of history to put a fresh spin on classic cop-and-crook types. Amy Stewart's true-life protagonist is a ‘rough and tumble’ version of the early 20th century's New Woman. She is witty, sharply-drawn, and suffers no fools!”—Suzanne Rindell, author of The Other Typist
“Yowza! Amy Stewart’s debut boasts pomaded gangsters, pistol-packin’ dames, kidnappings, shots in the dark, and everything from Girls Gone Wrong to carrier pigeons finding their way home. You might want to stay up all night reading, you might want to lie down on your fainting couch with a cool cloth on your forehead. Either way, you’ll have the time of your life.” —Robert Goolrick, New York Times bestselling author of A Reliable Wife
"Girl Waits with Gun is fresh, funny and utterly compelling-- and Constance Kopp and her sisters are not just great investigators, but completely original women. It was a blast from start to finish and I can’t wait to see what Deputy Kopp gets up to next."— Lisa Lutz, author of The Spellman Files, How to Start a Fire, and others
“Amy Stewart has crafted the best kind of historical novel; she uncovers an intriguing, all-but-forgotten historical nugget and spins it into a wildly entertaining tale with an engaging, tough-minded heroine. Girl Waits With Gun hits the bulls-eye.”—Daniel Stashower, author of The Hour of Peril: The Secret Plot to Murder Lincoln Before the Civil War
“Amy Stewart’s debut novel Girl Waits With Gun is an irresistible and thoroughly enjoyable book, a suspenseful historical mystery spiced with marvelous characters, wit, and humor. Is it too soon to beg for a sequel?” —Jennifer Chiaverini, author of Mrs. Grant and Madame Jule
“Engaging, lively, and substantive, Girl Waits with Gun is a perfect mystery, and the Kopp sisters are my new best friends. Amy Stewart writes about crime as well as she writes about plants and poisons. I loved this book, and will be first in line for the next installment.”—Sara Gran, author of Claire DeWitt and the Bohemian Highway
Conversation Starters from ReadingGroupChoices.com
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 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 already brought a threat to her family?
4. It’s clear that Constance is a unique woman for her time. But Sheriff Heath is also unusual in that he takes the Kopp sisters seriously when no one else would. Why do you think he helps them? What would you have done in their shoes?
5. At their Wyckoff farm, both Norma and Constance were encouraged to continue their mother’s “family tradition” of fear and distrust. In what ways did the sisters fall in line, and in what ways did they fail to heed her warnings? Do you think they felt justified in ignoring her warnings?
6. On page 384, Fleurette suggests that their year of harassment at the hands of Henry Kaufman was also the most interesting year of their lives, and therefore might not have been such a bad thing in the end. What if it were you—would you agree with Fleurette?
7. The author created a signature cocktail for the book called the New Jersey Automobile based on an actual 1910s-era cocktail called the Automobile. What would Norma think about an alcoholic beverage being named after their run-in with Henry Kaufman?
8. There’s a lot of talk these days about characters’ likability. Would you call the Kopp sisters likable? Do you think they even liked each other? Did you suspect the family secret? When did you figure it out?