One day in 1914, three young women – Constance, Norma, (both 30-something) and Fleurette (16) Kopp are riding in their horse-drawn buggy to their farm from the nearby New Jersey town in which they had been shopping, and are slammed into by an automobile. The car’s driver is the rich, alcoholic, and ill-mannered proprietor of the silk manufacturer that employs many of the townspeople.
Thus begins author Amy Stewart’s first novel, Girl Waits With Gun. While it is admittedly a novel, it is largely based on a true story about the ensuing troubles after Constance – a very tall and intimidating woman – becomes obsessed with getting the money owed for the damage from Henry Kaufman. Her efforts bring her in contact with – and eventually lead her to provide considerable help to – the local sheriff. Constance Kopp goes on to become one of the nation’s first female deputy sheriffs.
While the premise perhaps sounds dull, the novel is actually interesting and fun to read. The Kopp threesome are enormously entertaining, just as I suspect they were in real life.
While the three women – both in the novel and apparently in real life – present themselves as sisters, the reader learns early on that Fleurette is actually Constance’s daughter. This fact is unbeknownst to Fleurette herself, and only marginally meaningful to the story told in Girl Waits With Gun.
There are actually two stories that run parallel. The first is based on fact – that of the accident and the events that followed. The second, related, tells the story of a young woman who had been employed at the silk factory and got taken advantage of by Henry Kaufman, who subsequently takes away the child she bears.
The book is a fairly quick read, and provided a lot of entertainment. It’s fun to see how something we so take for granted today (women in law enforcement) was actually the result of a hard-fought battle.
Great book for a book club discussion.