Thursday, March 8, 2018

Girl Waits with Gun by Amy Stewart

First Sentence:  Our troubles began in the summer of 1914, the year I turned thirty-five.
      
Constance Kopp and her two sisters live on a farm in New Jersey.  While in town, their buggy is rammed by an automobile driven by Henry Kaufman head of the Kaufman Silk Dying Company.  The harder Constance tries to collect the money due them for damages, the more intense and violent become the threats and attacks on the sisters, causing Constance to seek help from the police and Sheriff Heath.  But refusing to pay damages is not only crime of which Kaufman and his gang are guilty.
      
It’s always a pleasure to come across a book based on real people and cases, and Constance Kopp someone one can’t help but like from the outset.  She is capable and doesn’t allow herself to be intimidated.  In fact, all the characters are intriguing.  How can one not enjoy Fleurette’s sass or Norm’s ingenuity? 
      
Stewart paints a painfully accurate picture of life for unmarried women of this time, and of life for workers in mill towns.  However, it is also important to remember that Constance’s experience is not atypical for women today as well.
      
The plot is very well done.  Constance’s past is very skillfully woven in revealing layers and details of her life as the story evolves.  The way in which Constance receives her training from everyone, at every step along the way is fascinating.  There is also a thought-provoking lesson on people’s sense of duty—“I couldn’t understand how anyone would take hold of a stranger and pout out their troubles.  But now I realized that people did it all the time.  They called for help.  And some people would answer, out of a sense of duty, and a sense of belonging to the world around them.”
      
The newspaper articles interspersed within the story are an excellent insight into journalism of the time.  The fact that they are real, as were the letters included, makes them even better.
     
 “Girl Waits with Gun” is a well-done and fascinating story.  It’s a perfect example of fact as a basis for fiction.


GIRL WAITS WITH GUN (Hist Mys-Constance Kopp-New Jersey-1914) - VG+
      Stewart, Amy – 1st of series
      Houghton Mifflin Harcourt – Sept 2015

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