Girl Waits With Gun

by Amy Stewart

Hardcover, 2015




Boston : Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015.


Living in virtual isolation years after the revelation of a painful family secret, Constance Kopp is terrorized by a belligerent silk factory owner and fights back in ways outside the norm for early twentieth-century women.

Media reviews

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.
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Stewart has spun a fine, historically astute novel out of all this, adding a subplot and deepening the characters.

User reviews

LibraryThing member brendajanefrank
Author Amy Stewart is a skilled, imaginative, creative writer, and I own all of her books. She researches her subjects extensively, then presents them in an engaging, often humorous manner. With the exception of “The Last Bookstore in America,” an ebook comic novella, “Girl Waits With Gun” is Stewart’s first work of fiction. At 404 pages, “Girl Waits With Gun” is an investment of the reader’s time. I found this time quite pleasurable.

“Girl Waits With Gun” is historical fiction based on newspaper accounts of threats and violence by silk mill owner, Harry Kaufman, against the three Kopp sisters in Paterson, New Jersey, during 1914 through 1915. Stewart based this tale on newspaper accounts, family members and genealogical research. Although the facts of the events are skeletal, the author embroidered the characters with rich details creating engaging characters reflective of the era.

The saga begins when Kaufman, a reckless, alcoholic lout, hit the horse-drawn buggy of the Kopp sisters with his car, destroying the buggy, and injuring Constance and Fleurette. It ends with a trial brought by the sisters against Kaufman and an offer of employment by the Sheriff to Constance to work as his Deputy.

I particularly enjoyed the struggle of the three sisters to live by themselves on a farm, performing all the chores while enjoying their hobbies. Norma raised and trained carrier pigeons, Fleurette was a talented seamstress, amateur actress and vocalist, and Constance pursued her investigations to bring justice to the downtrodden, protect the innocent and prosecute the guilty. The customs of this gentile era made their lifestyle a challenging anomaly. Men (relatives and husbands) were supposed to support and protect ladies. Women were supposed to be sweet, gentle and innocent, not live by themselves on a farm in the country carrying revolvers to protect themselves from thugs.

Stewart’s story reminded me of the writing of another of my favorite author’s, Fannie Flagg. Both use quirky characters and often innocent women to write entertaining stories. So, step into another era and enjoy “Girl Waits With Gun.”
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LibraryThing member vnesting
It all started on the day factory owner Henry Kaufman crashes his car into the Kopp sisters' buggy, injuring the sisters and demolishing their buggy. Kaufman laughs when Constance Kopp demands that he reimburse them for the damages, but Constance is not most women. Taller than most men and unconcerned with the domestic issues that occupy most women of the day, she becomes dogged in her pursuit of justice and fairness. While Kaufman tries threats and intimidation, Constance works with the local sheriff to protect her family and bring Kaufman to justice. Set in New Jersey in 1914-15, this historical novel based on actual events is completely engaging. I hope this is the start of a new series. Constance Kopp is a great character!… (more)
LibraryThing member ozzer
It may have been a mistake for Amy Stewart to attempt to tell the true story of Constance Kopp as a fictional detective story instead of as a straightforward historical investigation. Stewart has been justifiably praised for her previous non-fiction writings. She has uncovered some unusual and delightful material and developed it meticulously with insight and humor. Certainly the story of the Kopp sisters and their struggle with the wealthy silk merchant, Henry Kaufman, in early 20th-century New Jersey would have been worthy of that approach. However, as detective fiction, it does not seem to work well because the story is a little too bland and predictable, lacking in the tension and intricate plotting we have come to expect from the contemporary crime genre. One can only speculate that this decision was made to pave the way for a series of detective novels based on Constance. One can only hope that if more exploits are to come, they have more complicated plots than was evident here.

With her typical charming and breezy writing style, Stewart did an admirable piece of research for GIRL WAITS WITH GUN. She thoroughly presents the socioeconomics of women in America in 1914. Their place was married and in the home where they were often bullied and treated with disrespect. Three women living alone in the country indeed presents with some problems prevalent at the time. In her novel, Stewart repeatedly depicts the social restrictions women endured, most overtly with the misogynistic and brutal Kaufman gang, the consequences of unplanned pregnancies and the fear of white slavery, but more subtly by their brother Francis’ paternalism, workplace insecurities and the limitations in the types of jobs they could hold. Clearly being a real detective was unacceptable work for Constance in spite of her having a flare for it. Ironically, the woman in charge of hiring store detectives at Wanamaker’s perceives Constance to be inappropriate for the lowly job of floorwalker only because of her large size. She does not even interview her about expertise or motivations. These issues, along with the limitations imposed by crude transportation, domestic arrangements and dress considered unacceptable, as well as the unhealthy conditions experienced by factory workers during this period of our history would have made excellent background for a history of the iconoclastic Constance Kopp, the first American woman detective.

As historical figures, the main characters in this novel are realistic. However, as fictional characters, they make for dull reading because they lack the nuances that are common in contemporary fiction. Constance is a forthright narrator. She is larger than life (quite literally) demonstrating intelligence and persistence. Norma is a consummate pessimist, preferring pigeons to humans. Fleurette is a flighty teenager seeking adventure. Kaufman is an overindulged sociopath. Everyone dutifully acts out his or her particular role in this bland plot chronicling the aftermath of a rather routine traffic accident and the escalating threats by brutal men against three sisters simply for seeking the kind of restitution common enough today with mandatory automobile insurance.
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LibraryThing member cathyskye
I'm a fan of Amy Stewart's non-fiction books Wicked Plants and Wicked Bugs, so when I saw that she'd written historical fiction based on the life of a real woman, I was eager to read it. Girl Waits with Gun satisfies on some levels, but not all.

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.
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LibraryThing member streamsong
In the early 1900's three sisters are living quietly on their farm several miles outside of town.

A trip to town, however, changes everything when their buggy is smashed by a motor car. Naturally enough, the oldest of the three wants to have the driver pay damages. She finds, however that the driver is a local silk factory owner, Henry Kaufman, bent on thuggery and having things his own way.

She persists in obtaining reimbursement and Kaufman and his gang swing into action. They threaten to kidnap the beautiful youngest sister and sell her into white slavery. Bricks with threatening notes are thrown through windows, shots are fired, arson attempted.

None of the town's officials are willing to help the women – they are all well-acquainted with the factory owners' bullying and violence that occurred during a recent strike.

The local sheriff, however stands up, commits his department to end the terrorism and teaches the women, especially the oldest, how to protect themselves and how to obtain the evidence they need if they want to slay a Goliath.

I really enjoyed this story of wonderful, strong women at a time when women have to step outside their proscribed roles to do this. The three sisters (or are they?) are wonderfully realized, each with distinct personalities and interests and quirky enough that I would love to read more and am hoping for a sequel.

The most amazing part is that this story is based on a real incident gleaned from vivid (if a bit melodramatic) newspaper stories and leading to the first woman deputy sheriff in the United States.

Highly recommended for those looking for a light, but not fluffy read.
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LibraryThing member Kimaoverstreet
Being predominately a reader of fiction, this was the first of Amy Stewart's books I have read. I enjoyed it immensely! It was based on a true story and rich in historical detail. There was even a great author's note at the end detailing what was fact and what was fabricated - always the first thing I look for when I finish a great historical novel.

This is the story of Constance Kopp, an unmarried lady living with her two sisters in rural New Jersey in 1914. On a trip to town for supplies, a road accident triggers a dangerous chain of events that changes the women's lives forever. Highly recommended for fans of historical fiction!
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LibraryThing member lostinthebb
I received an advance copy of Girl Waits with Gun by Amy Stewart as part of the Librarything Early Reviewers program in exchange for an unbiased review. Amy Stewart's novel is based on historical events that happened a little over 100 years ago in Paterson, New Jersey, when a spoiled, powerful businessman named Henry Kaufman - who surrounded himself with criminals - drove his automobile into the buggy of the Kopp sisters. The two women and their young sister live on a farm outside town and their brother is concerned about the lack of a man in the home to protect and provide for them. Constance, the eldest sister, bills Kaufman for $50.00 to repair the buggy. When the invoices are ignored, she visits the mill he owns.

Constance is a large, strong woman –much stronger than Kaufman - who isn't interested in following the usual middle-class pattern of the time of becoming a wife or moving with her sisters into her brother's home to help her sister-in-law with her niece and nephew. When Kaufman mounts an offense of violence, escalating to threats of kidnapping the youngest girl, Fleurette, and blackmail on the sisters, Constance goes to the police. The detectives aren’t helpful, but the local sheriff teaches her how to handle a gun and has deputies check the farm. With the sheriff’s budget stretched thin and his caseload heavy, the women begin to carry guns and try to keep Fleurette, the youngest Kopp girl and target of kidnapping threats, safe, and their home safe from guns and arson. Higher authorities are uninterested in the case until the media becomes fascinated by Constance’s agreement to meet, after dark and alone, with the blackmailer’s agent after a series of gangster-style threats known as Black Hand letters.

Ms. Stewart eloquently shows the grinding, hard labor involved in working a farm at the turn of 20th century and the fear many people have of police. She highlights the difficulties of women who didn’t want to marry or be dependent on a male relative but had few opportunities for work, and does so in an engrossing and humorous way that may keep the reader up late. I admire the fictionalized version of the historical Constance Kopp, love the book, and hope to read more about Miss Kopp’s adventures and more novels by Ms. Stewart.
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LibraryThing member MrsLee
Amy Stewart is an amazing woman. She read a few newspaper articles, and became inspired by the three Kopp sisters. Then she dove headlong into research and ended up writing a delightful story about them; especially Constance, the first female deputy sheriff of Bergen County, New Jersey. Not only that, but when I went to her website to see some photos, I discover that she is a talented artist as well. I wish I knew her, but reading her books is a fine alternative.

This book focuses on the sister's run-in with a silk mill owner. He runs into them with his automobile when they are in their buggy to be precise. They submit a bill for damages, which he refuses to pay and Constance won't take no for an answer. Drawn from research of the records of these events, the author gives these women a place to live again, perhaps to be noticed and admired for their courage and strength rather than for the sensationalism of the day.

Stewart does a fine job of reflecting the attitudes of the day. I know this because my grandmother grew up in that time and told me about them. Women didn't live on their own. It wasn't done. When it was done, they were exceptional women. The mistrust of strangers, journalists, lawmen and basically everyone was a real thing. These were years of great transition for women, although it hadn't happened yet, and this story reflects that awakening in the sister's lives. That isn't to say that there are no problems with it. It felt a bit stretched out at the end, but never so much that I lost interest, always there were the descriptions of places, clothing, and such that made it feel as if you were there.

There are to be sequels, I'm assuming having to do with the career of Constance, and I am looking forward to them.
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LibraryThing member boodgieman
Amy Stewart's novel starts with a bang—a crash, actually—when, on a summer day in 1914 New Jersey, Constance Kopp and her sisters Norma and Fleurette are run off the road in their buggy by a local factory owner Henry Kaufman in his newfangled motor car. "I think our buggy collided with the wrong man," Constance decides later, after numerous tries to collect for damages lead to middle-of-the-night vandalism, attempted arson, and threats of kidnapping and worse against the Kopp sisters. A subplot has Constance trying to reunite a mother and her child (Kaufman's) who was given up for adoption against the mother's will; Constance's motives are rooted in a family secret that would not be hard to predict even if it weren't explained. Most of the characters are based on real people, including Constance Kopp, who was one of America's first female deputy sheriffs. The main characters are engaging and well-developed, with Constance especially showing throughout the levelheadedness and resourcefulness needed to be a good detective. As detective stories go, the plot is fairly simple; ultimately this is more of a novel of self-discovery than a traditional detective story, though it works satisfactorily as both. Stewart has stated that she's working on sequels featuring the Kopp sisters (it's not giving anything away to say that the ending is a perfect setup for further stories); I'll be first in line to read more of them (and to see the inevitable movie).… (more)
LibraryThing member librarian1204
Absolutely delightful historical fiction. From an author celebrated for her non fiction, comes the story of the Misses Koop, three sisters living by themselves on a farm outside Paterson, NJ in 1914. Not much is expected of the women at that time, marriage and family being the traditional option. The eldest sister,Constance, is not planning on that. Actually, she doesn't have too many plans, until the day the sisters' horse and buggy ride is upset, literally and figuratively, by a wealthy mill owner, Henry Kaufman, and his drinking buddies who run their auto into the ladies' buggy. The book moves on from there as Constance tries to get reimbursement for the damage to their buggy. Not being one to admit to his mistakes, Mr.Kaufman, threatens and makes life very dangerous and scary for the sisters.
With twists and turns and a great deal of very well done historical fact and embellishment, the book is a wonderful read. I hope there will be more fiction from Amy Stewart.
Read as a LibraryThing ARC.
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LibraryThing member bayleaf
Too cutesy for me, Girl Waits with Gun was a struggle to read. I expect more from historical fiction. Fleurette's character annoyed me so much I almost didn't finish the book. I cannot believe even a sheltered girl of sixteen would have acted the way she did. Considering what they probably experienced, I think the real Kopp sisters deserved more. The only reason I gave Girl Waits with Gun a rating of two is because I think the author portrayed the period well.… (more)
LibraryThing member melissarochelle
Read from September 10 to 21, 2015

A romping good time! Amy Stewart took a historical figure and truly brought her to life. I can only hope the real Constance was as funny and fierce as the one Stewart imagines.

When an automobile runs into the Kopp sisters' buggy, Constance requests that they be reimbursed for damages. She soon discovers that the man she's demanding reimbursement from isn't a good man and he (or his associates) begin threatening the Kopp sisters. There are chapters interspersed throughout that also give us some of Constance's backstory and provides answers to why the three sisters live in the country alone.… (more)
LibraryThing member Mishker
The three Kopp sisters, Constance, Norma and Fleurette live a quiet, reserved life on a farm in New Jersey in 1914. Most of their life they have been guarded and warned away from the outside world by their deceased mother. Now, they must deal with the outside world in a big way when one Henry Kaufman crashed his vehicle into the Kopp sister’s buggy. Intent on receiving payment for the damages, Constance demands that Henry pay her back, but Henry is a silk factory owner and with his team of brutes, he feels that he is entitled to intimidate through the Kopp’s through bricks, threats and guns. When Constance enlists the local police force, Henry does not expect a woman to be able to stand up for her family like Constance Kopp.

This story began a little slow for me, but ended up being a wonderful historical story about a strong woman that is seemingly out of place for her time. Constance’s character really did grab me from the start, she is strong both mentally and physically, determined and a fierce caregiver to her sisters. As her backstory unfurled, she only became more intriguing and her relationship with Norma and Fleurette became concrete. Each of the sister’s personalities were very distinct and they each had very complex relationships. The conflict that emerged between the Kopp’s and Kaufmann seemed very cut and dry at first, but as time went on more layers of depth emerged in a masterful way. I was also very pleased to know that the story is based on real history and that these real people have been brought to life once again.

This story was received for free in return for an honest review.
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LibraryThing member bonniemarjorie
He looked up and said, in a loud, plain voice, “She’s not a regular lady.”

Indeed, Constance Kopp was quite a woman for her time. Constance Amelie Kopp was born in 1878 and as an adult was recorded as being six feet tall. Yes, Constance Kopp was a real-life woman and is credited as being one of America’s first female deputy sheriffs. Little is known of the women but what is known paints a most interesting picture. Amy Stewart gathered as much information as she could and the necessary enrichment truly brought her and the people associated with her to being. Girl Waits With a Gun starts off Constance’s story with a buggy accident involving her and her sisters, Norma and Fleurette, in 1914. The individual responsible for causing the damage and irreversibly damaging their mode of transportation, was one Henry Kaufman, a wealthy silk factory owner. Constance sends him repeated notices of the amount of damage he is responsible for, $50, and when he fails to respond to her goes to collect from him personally. This sets off a long year of harrassment from Kaufman and his associates where they suffer through having bricks thrown through their windows at night to letters threatening to kidnap their youngest sister Fleurette and sell her into white slavery. Not willing to lay down and accept this, Constance goes to the police with the hope that she can put her trust in them to put a stop to the menace in their lives.

Girl Waits With a Gun was an unexpected delight for me but was much more slower paced than I would have figured. I went into this expecting some sort of crime fiction with a historical flair being that it’s set in 1914. This was decidedly less focused on the crime itself but of Constance and of the story behind her becoming a deputy sheriff, and how it was nothing but a complete accident. This story leaned more towards historical-fiction/cozy mystery territory but is unmistakably the smartest story of the genre I’ve read. It took me a solid week to read this and while I had to pace myself, I never lost any interest in this charming tale.

Constance was a fantastic character and imaginably a remarkable individual in her own right. On Amy Stewart’s website she lists a quote from Constance where she said: “Some women prefer to stay at home and take care of the house. Let them. There are plenty who like that kind of work enough to do it. Others want something to do that will take them out among people and affairs. A woman should have the right to do any sort of work she wants to, provided she can do it.” That was the kind of woman she was, one who refused to fall into typical social expectations of the time. In her earlier years she expressed an interest in pursuing a career, as a lawyer or a nurse, but her mother inevitably discouraged that and kept her at home. The story touches briefly and only occasionally on her past when she was around eighteen years old and what truly molded her into the woman she is today. While I loved her take no crap attitude in her mature years, I really loved seeing this younger part of her that was still coming into her own and learning the ways of the world. The situations she found herself in for that time may have been irreversible and life-changing but not only was she strong-willed but she had a supportive family to back her up. She was quite an inspiring individual and I do hope we haven’t seen the last of Constance Kopp.

“…if I could give her one silent gift […] – it would be this: the realization that we have to be a part of the world we live in. We don’t scurry away when we’re in trouble, or when someone else is. We don’t run and hide.”
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LibraryThing member BrokenTeepee
This is the story of three sisters living alone in rural New Jersey. They grew up with an absent father and a mother who was, let’s say a little suspicious of anyone other than her immediate family. The girls have a brother but he is married and he lives in the city. After their mother dies the girls decide to stay on their land despite the pleas of their brother to move in with him. They are a bit set in their ways and see no reason to leave what they know.

The three girls, Constance, Norma, and Fleurette try to just live their lives but one day while in town running errands their cart is hit by a car. Constance insists on chasing the driver for the money to fix the cart not realizing that he is not the type of man to deal honestly with a debt. In fact he’s the type of man to try and kill her rather than pay damages.

What follows is an absolutely fascinating look at Northern New Jersey, the silk dying industry and corruption at the beginning of the 20ieth century. The story is drawn from newspaper articled and other extant materials of the time. Ms. Stewart fleshes out the characters and what she creates is an utterly fascinating book that I was drawn into from the very first paragraph. It’s different, I can’t say that any of the three main characters are really likable and Fleurette is downright annoying but still I couldn’t stop turning the pages. This is one of my favorite books of the year. I’m keeping it to read again when I find that elusive spare time.
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LibraryThing member Shuffy2
A collision, bricks thrown through windows, possible child abduction and bullets flying overhead… How can Constance protect her sisters?

It is 1914 and Constance Kopp, a rather lofty lady, refuses to back down after a wealthy factory owner careens into her carriage. Instead of paying her the $50 for damages, he turns the tables and threatens her family. Unwilling to back down, Constance decides to take the law into her own hands…. with the help of Sheriff Heath, of course.

Based on a true story (with a few embellishments), ‘Girl Waits With a Gun’ tells the tale of three sisters tormented by a power hungry silk factory owner. Constance is a strong character and does not back down, even when it is a time when most women would sit submissively by and let others handle it. The side-story of Lucy is added for the reader, as an added tier of intrigue and depth to the account. One complaint I had is the inconsistency of Fleurette’s age-- one minute she is fourteen, the next fifteen, the suddenly she is thirteen and lastly sixteen going on seventeen--- the book took place over less than a year so I found it very distracting. My other complaint, as a history buff, is about the use of police cars; it is 1914 (!!) and cars were not incorporated into use by the NYPD until the mid-1920s. Putting those aside, it was an interesting tale that kept my attention throughout…
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LibraryThing member CandyH
Girl Waits with Gun is a wonderful, well crafted piece of historical fiction. This story depicts the lives of the Kopp women with the main emphasis on Constance. There are some surprising twists and turns along the way to keep the reader devouring this story. I'm so pleased LibraryThing selected me to read this particular book. It is excellent and I highly recommend this book.… (more)
LibraryThing member Carolee888
Girl Waits with Gun by Amy Stewart is based on real events in 1914 in New Jersey and New York. At the end of the story, the author set us straight on which characters and what characteristics were invented. There was a real Constance Kopp whose adventures got reported in the newspapers. She, Norma and Fleurette Kopp bucked the tradition of that time by living in the countryside by themselves instead of living with their brother, Frances or finding poorly paying jobs in town. There was not much of a future for single young women at that time.

The women have divided up the farm duties, Norma engaged herself in raising pigeons and training them to carry messages, and she also cared for the livestock on the farm. Fleurette, the youngest and most excitable did the sewing while Constance was let to do whatever they did not take care of. The three women were on an errand in town when their buggy was run into by Henry Kaufman, the manager of a silk dying factory who spends most of his time with his corrupt gang of friends. He smashes into their buggy causing it to be unusable and is very rude to them. Constance is determined to get reimbursed for the cost of fixing it but that goal leads her into further inciting the ire of Mr. Kaufman, a very criminal character.

The pace was irritatingly slow at times but the characters were fascinating to read about. The story is narrated by Constance who was a very strong woman, physically and determination wise but I developed an affection for Sheriff Heath who with a little bit of a grin or tug at his hat told so much about his personality.
What I enjoyed the most about this book is that there is proof that there were strong willed women during that time who did not bow to the practices of being totally submissive to the men in their lives, in this case, their brother Frances.

I received an Advance Reading Copy of this book as a win from LibraryThing from the publishers in exchange for a fair book review. My thoughts and feelings in this review are totally my own.
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LibraryThing member coho8
The three Kopp sisters of New Jersey lead a quiet life on a farm until their buggy is hit and damaged by a well-dressed man in a new motor car. This is 1914, when the horseless carriage and the horse-drawn carriage were learning to coexist on the roadways, women did not yet have the right to vote and there were deplorable conditions in factories. Henry Kaufman, a wealthy factory owner, is the driver. He is a belligerent bully, with a cadre of hoodlum companions, who will not accept responsibility for the accident. These men are trouble from the get go. Constance, the oldest sister, is tall and assertive for her time. She insists on the payment of damages and will not back down. Thus follows a string of escalating encounters between Kaufman and the Kopps.

Amy Stewart has a humorous turn of phrase and great pacing in this novel. Her main and minor characters are well-drawn and pop out of the page. I enjoyed this book and hope that we will see a sequel.
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LibraryThing member Jaylia3
When the three Kopp sisters drove into town, they had no idea it would unleash a crazy chain of events and a world of trouble. The combative owner of a local silk factory ran them down with his automobile, flipping and crushing their horse drawn buggy, and then refused to pay for the damages. Constance Kopp kept after Henry Kaufman for restitution, their funds were limited and it was only right that he should compensate the sisters, but she had no idea how aggressive, antagonistic and dangerous he would be. Kaufman and his goons threatened their lives, set fire to their home, threw bricks through their windows, and shot bullets around the isolated family farm where sisters lived by themselves. But the Kopp women, especially six-foot-tall no-nonsense Constance, weren’t about to back down. They armed themselves, patrolled their property, and with the help of police set traps to catch their tormentors.

One of the best things about this lively, entertaining book is that it’s based on a true story--the newspaper articles printed in the text are real and the catchy title “Girl Waits With Gun” was one of the headlines. Other than the bare facts not a lot is known about the actual sisters, but the author did a great job creating distinct personalities for them. While the story doesn’t have the fastest pace it is suspenseful, and I loved reading all the colorful and evocative details about life in the early days of the last century.
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LibraryThing member ecataldi
Cute, inventive, and hard to put down. I thoroughly enjoyed reading the escapades of the three Kopp sisters, even more so when I discovered that this story is loosely based off true events! When an automobile collides with a horse and buggy and the buggy is ruined, the eldest sister, Constance, decides to take matters into her own hands and get the thug who was driving the car to pay. Little does she realize though that this thug is not to be messed with. Soon come the threatening letters, shots fired at the house, bricks thrown into windows. The girls finds themselves in over their heads. They turn to the sheriff for help before things escalate too quickly. My favorite character is the youngest sister Fleurette, who has a wonderful knack for creativity and seeing the positive side in everything. An enjoyably quick read.… (more)
LibraryThing member michigantrumpet
Author Amy Stewart leaps into historical fiction with her re-telling of the travails on the Kopp sisters -- Constance. Norma and teenager Fluerette. In 1914 Paterson, New Jersey, an automobile driven by a nasty piece of work, Henry Kaufman and his posse of minor criminals crashes into the three sisters' buggy. The buggy is destroyed, and the three, newly bereft of their mother and short on finances, seek recompense. Instead, they are dropped into a horrific year in which they are terrorized by Kaufman, who counts on his position as a leading businessman/silk manufacturer to protect him from any consequences.

i was particularly taken with strong-willed Constance, who goes one to be one of the first Female deputy sheriff's in New Jersey. Also engaging was the kindly Sheriff who makes it his mission to bring justice to the Kopps. The story was enaging and I enjoy works like this which are based upon little known but fascinating real life experience.
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LibraryThing member tututhefirst
This is one of the most innovative detective stories I've read in a long time. Portraying strong women as  protagonists in a decidedly non-feminist setting made for some interesting situations.  I kept seeing early silent film reels running through my mind with Al Capone style gangsters, tin lizzies, fainting flappers, and stereotypical "Little House on the Prairie" homemakers.  But......these women were far from stereotypes.  They were strong (and headstrong), competent, organized, innovative and at times able to be quite stubborn in their quest for justice. 

Several reviewers commented that they were able to guess the outcome from the "spoiler" printed on the book's cover.  Since I read this as an e-galley, I didn't pay attention to the cover, and it was only at the end that I realized the story is based on a true but long forgotten adventure. That said, I won't add anything else to spoil the fun.  I will say though that I look forward to more adventures of the Kopp sisters.

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LibraryThing member Gwendydd
A heartwarming and entertaining story, all the better for being based on real events.

The Kopp sisters are worryingly independent for 1914 - they live alone on a farm in New Jersey, and have no interest in being under the protection of a male relative. One day, their buggy is hit by a car. They demand payment for damages from the car's driver, and find themselves in way over their heads: it turns out that the driver of the car has gang connections, and they soon find themselves to be the target of a group of criminals. Constace Kopp turns out to have a knack for detective work, and she manages to do more than the local police can do to track down the criminal activities of their harassers.

So on one hand, this is an amateur detective story, along with a classic small-people-in-big-crime story. However, there's a lot more to it than that: it also explores a lot of women's issues without being pedantic, and is a very touching story of the love between sisters, mothers, and daughters, and how women stand up for each other.

On top of that, Amy Stewart writes with a delightful dry humor - there were several laugh out loud moments throughout the book.

I listened to the audiobook: the book works well as an audiobook, and the narrator is very entertaining.
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LibraryThing member Lorelai2
Based on a true story set in Patterson,NJ in 1914, Constance Kopp, the eldest of three sisters, finds herself taking charge of a most unlikely situation. After a road accident involving the family horse and buggy, she seeks payment for the damages from Henry Kaufman, the driver who is also a spoiled rich sociopath. Instead of paying the asked for fifty dollars, Kaufman and his crew embark upon a campaign of harassment that includes violent threats delivered via a brick through the window, attempted arson and warnings to back off or risk having younger sister Fleurette kidnapped.

Constance doesn't wish for such a turbulent force to disrupt her life or her sisters' but she will also not be easily intimidated by Kaufman and his pack of thugs. Upon learning about another victim of Kaufman's wrath in search of her missing child, Constance teams up with local law enforcement to find true justice for all concerned. For a first novel, Amy Stewart really has hit a home run here. She's better known for nonfiction(The Drunken Botanist, in which some of the research for that book lead to GWWG) but I hope this is the beginning of a beautiful fictional friendship with readers.
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