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Girl Waits with Gun (A Kopp Sisters Novel) Paperback – May 3, 2016
"Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress"
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A New York Times Editors' Choice
A September 2015 Indie Next Pick
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"
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
"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"
“Thrilling… iveting and great fun… The blend of historical fiction with this true-life story is ingenious and makes Stewart’s book a pleasure to read. The Kopp sisters are not shy and shrinking violets and the author’s style is just as bold.”—Cowgirl Magazine
"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
"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
“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
From the Inside Flap
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 nations first female crime fighters.
Constance Kopp doesnt 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 from city to country fifteen years ago. When a powerful, ruthless factory owner runs down their buggy, a dispute over damages turns into a war of bricks, bullets, and threats as he unleashes his gang on their farm. The sheriff enlists her help, and it turns out Constance has knack for outwitting (and disarming) the criminal element that might just take her back out into the world and onto a new path in life. Quick-witted and full of madcap escapades, Girl Waits with Gun is a story about one woman rallying the courage to stand up for and grow into herself with a little help from sisters and sheriffs along the way.
Through Amy Stewarts exuberant storytelling, Constance Kopp catapults from forgotten historical anecdote to unforgettable historical fiction heroine an outsized woman not only ahead of her time but sometimes, even, ahead of ours.
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Stewart found the bare bones true story of one of the country's first female deputy sheriffs and fleshed it out by piecing together genealogical records, newspaper articles, and court documents. Excerpts from actual letters are used, and all the newspaper headlines throughout the book are real.
Constance, Norma, and Fleurette Kopp were raised by their deeply distrustful Austrian mother, and it led to a very strange upbringing indeed. Norma seems to have inherited most of her mother's suspicious nature and just wants to be left alone so she can raise her pigeons. Fleurette, much younger than the other two, is pretty, flighty, willful-- a young woman poised to bring all sorts of calamities raining down upon her sisters' heads if she's not put on the right path. Soon. Constance is the most "normal" of the three, but she harbors her own secrets and thwarted dreams which are told in brief flashbacks. The collision with Henry Kaufman's automobile is in many ways fortuitous. It shakes the sisters out of their limbo, and gives them all a good chance to live lives unencumbered by their mother's prejudices.
But as interesting as this all is, the story moves much too slowly and is in dire need of tightening. Weighing in at over 400 pages, Girl Waits with Gun waddles when it should dance. At about the 300-page mark, Constance should've stopped waiting and fired the gun. Then my mere liking would undoubtedly have turned to unabashed enthusiasm.
Sounds fascinating, right? It sure does, because that's the reason I bought the ebook and then the audible book when it was the daily deal. I love reading about extraordinary women in history - the innovators, the way-pavers, and so on.
The unfortunate thing is that this book was far too long and bloated for the story it had, and the characters and writing were not good enough to make me forgive it for being long and bloated and boring. And that's a crime right there - being a boring book. Crappy books, even silly dorky ones like Tinker aren't so bad because at least they can amuse me with their silly dorkiness. Boring books just make me somnolent.
Although the book begins by immediately leaping into the altercation that starts off this series of events - Henry Kaufman colliding with the Kopp buggy - the book just wanders and piddles around until the bitter end of the trial. (It turns into Perry Mason for a bit at the end, in a weird turn of events.) And good lord, the kidnapped baby subplot! What a waste of time and a source of obvious padding! I got so infuriated that I considered skipping these pitiful sections every time Lucy and her dumb baby came up.
While all this is going on, we the readers learn the Kopp Sisters "Big Secret" - something I figured out by the 18% mark. I won't go into it, because I try to avoid spoilers at all cost, but it's not hard to figure out and if you are clever, you can even just google it and discover the secret. The problem with this "Big Secret" - it doesn't build Constance's character and is irrelevant in the end. There is no "big revelation" at the end, nor is there a "Come to Jesus" moment with all the sisters. Instead, it was just a way to pad things out - and once again showing sex happening to a woman instead of a woman being an active participant.
That's the other thing that bugs me about this book - so much of this book, I felt Constance just let stuff happen to her, or other people act instead of taking charge. Sure, she does pursue repayment despite Norma's insistence to "Let It Go" - but the way she talks about Eugene having sex with her is just so distant! I get women of the 1910's were women of a different era, but it was effing creepy! Also, I was SO UPSET when Norma tells Constance she should be a detective - why couldn't CONSTANCE have thought that and then discussed it with Norma?! Oh noooooo, we can't have women deciding things about their lives! It has to be handed to them! And then the final sentence of this book made me want to ragequit - if it wasn't the final sentence! Again, I won't reveal what it is, but it's basically the whole reason Constance Kopp was interesting to me - and the way Sheriff Heath said it at the very end was so infuriating!
Constance isn't the only character I felt was tepid in this book. Norma and Fleurette, the other two major characters, felt like caricatures - Norma is a recluse who likes pigeons! Fleurette is a spoiled brat who acts like she's 12 instead of almost 17! (I read one reviewer who was confused about her age - how Constance says she's 13 and then Fleurette later turns 17. No wonder because Fleurette ACTS like a 12/13 year old!!) Henry Kaufman is EVIL! Lucy is a hardworking loving mom! Sheriff Heath works hard! His wife is a mean harpy (how dare she care about her husband and worry for him working so hard, the witch with a b!). No one really grows and changes. No one is beyond the couple of adjectives and attributes that are hastily attached to them. They were all flat, boring people whom I didn't care about and who wouldn't exist in real life.
Taking a step back, this isn't a horrible book. It certainly has better morals than many others and isn't egregiously bad. It's just the problems I found with it really pushed all my buttons in that bad way. I like female protagonists who actually take charge - don't call our protagonist "gutsy" if she basically takes a back seat and lets life happen to her all the time! I don't like unnecessary, cheesy plots meant only to pad the story. And why bother having a Big Family Secret when it does NOTHING to the characters or the story???
Moral of the Story: I got a refund for this through Audible. Thank you Audible, for being so kind and giving refunds, even for things I ordered some time ago. This makes me even more pleased that I signed up for your service. I wish I could do the same with my Kindle ebook but oh well.
That said, you may like the book. It seems like most of the reviews are overwhelmingly positive, and I've been called a Negative Nancy before, so you make the call. Take charge of your life and decide what you want to do - don't be like Constance and let life happen to you!
But I was expecting a mystery. So many of the reviews and descriptions on Amazon, on the book cover, even the cover style, say or imply that this a classic mystery novel. And it is not, not at all.
Basically, you are introduced to the Kopp sisters: Constance, Norma, and Fleurette. A car/buggy accident sets into motion a series of events over the next year that require the women to fear for their lives and learn how to defend themselves. Along the way other smaller storylines pop up that are in one way or another connected to the drama the sisters must endure. None of these stories, main or sub, could really be considered mysteries.
The format of the book is largely chronological, starting with the buggy/car accident, but includes several flashback scenes to the sisters' earlier years. This framework seems to be very popular among authors currently, and while it does not detract from <I>Girl Waits with Gun</i>, this choice does not quite work for this book, either.
The characters are all enjoyable and likeable; Norma and Fleurette have immediately recognizable characters and traits, but Constance takes a little longer to classify. In some ways this is because she is more complex, but it also has to do with some very inconsistent behaviours and thoughts (it's first person, on her, so we are privy to these). I kept expecting her to act certain ways. She was just a bit too wishy-washy at times.
But it was still really good, and after I get over the feeling of betrayal at not having just read a whodunit, I might even up the stars to 5. It's a cuspy 4 (verging on 5) stars for sure.
Once I found out it is based on real historical characters and events, I definitely liked it more. There were times I found myself wishing the characters were behaving or reacting differently, but knowing that they were based on real, live people, the parts of their personalities that I consider flaws are not nearly so irksome --real people are allowed to be a lot more flawed than fictional characters, apparently.
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