Wednesday, July 6, 2016

"Girl Waits with Gun" by Amy Stewart

So... I didn't like this book as much as I was expecting to.  I liked it so much more!!!  I had read something about it somewhere a while ago (gee, can I vague that up for you a little?), and when I saw it at the bookstore last week, I said, "Aha!  That sounded good, I think," and bought it on a whim.  I almost never buy brand new books on a whim (you know what a cautious fellow I am), but I had a coupon...

Anyway.  Great book!  Really, really fun.  It concerns the three unmarried Kopp ladies, Constance, Norma, and Fleurette, who live on an isolated farm in New Jersey in the 1910s.  They have a literal run-in with a dreadful man named Henry Kaufman when his motorcar smashes up their buggy.  Instead of paying to have their buggy repaired like he obviously ought to, he starts harassing the women with drive-by taunts, bricks through windows, threatening notes, and eventually more.  Constance and Norma Kopp learn to shoot pistols and have a series of adventures that involve not only Henry Kaufman, but also an unwed mother whose baby boy has disappeared.  

And it's based on a true story.  Did I mention that?  Yes!  The Kopps were real people -- there's even a photograph of Constance at the back of the book.  The title comes from the headline of a real-life newspaper article written about their efforts to protect themselves from Kaufman and his associates.  

But all that isn't why I loved the book.  I loved it, of course, because of the characters.  Constance Kopp is precisely the sort of resourceful, level-headed, determined woman I have always striven to be.  Had I been in her situation, I would have armed myself and set out to protect my family much like she did.  Her sister Norma is a homing pigeon fanatic, but equally sensible and down-to-earth -- in some ways, she reminded me a great deal of my best friend.  Fleurette... at first, Fleurette did annoy me.  She's just a teenager, while Constance and Norma are in their 30s, and she's flighty and frolicsome and fashion-obsessed.  But she grew on me, with her frog-catching and -cooking, her knack for sewing, and her calm confidence in Constance and Norma's abilities to save her from being kidnapped and sold into white slavery.

And then there's Sheriff Heath.  Oh, Sheriff Heath, with his mustache and his eyes, and that name that makes me think of a certain Barkley Boy.  He wasn't exactly a love interest, but he did provide some nice manly scenery.

A sequel, Lady Cop Makes Trouble, is getting released this fall, and you can bet I'll be buying that one too -- and not on any whim!

Particularly Good Bits:

I worried that I was destined to die in the same bed my mother had died in, leaving behind nothing but a cellar full of parsnips and uneven rows of stitches along cuffs and collars that nobody even remembered me making (p. 27).

In my mind, Henry Kaufman existed only in those moments when I had seen him, and the rest of the time he was still and quiet, like a marionette hung backstage by his strings, motionless until someone took him up and sent him skittering back to life (p. 83).

The granite courthouse behind us, the rows of brick offices and shops across the street, and the trolleys running along their tracks, all seemed to speak of a crisp and orderly world in which people could walk the streets in peace (p. 404).

If This was a Movie, I Would Rate It:  PG-13.  There are two unwed mothers in this story, and while there are NO detailed scenes of how they came to be that way, there are oblique and veiled references to such things, and to white slavery as well.  There is some violence, including gunplay and arson.  There are some very tense moments, and not a small amount of danger.  However, there is almost no bad language -- only one curse word as far as I can recall.


  1. Wow--that sounds really good!

    1. It really was! Not a fast-paced book, and not exactly a mystery, but just engrossing and enjoyable all around.

  2. That title grabbed me from the moment I saw it. That sounds so good!

    1. Laura, yes! It was the title that nabbed my attention too. It's really quite a cool, unusual book.

  3. This sounds absolutely delightful! Adding it to my to-reads list asap!

    1. It is seriously cool. Quite fresh and unusual. And I didn't realize until I was like 3/4 of the way through it that it was a retelling of real events! Now I kind of want to reread it with that in mind.


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