Girl Waits With Gun

24 Jan


Becoming Jenny G. can be hard work at times, what with the gallivanting about town, the wigs and the rigor of finding and completing new missions. Luckily, I recently had a bit of downtime to refocus on my ongoing mission of finding outside sources of inspiration. Thusly, the International Woman of Mystery book club has reconvened.

I’ve recently picked up Amy Stewart’s “Girl Waits With Gun.” A brief description informed me that it was a fictional story, based on true events and a true heroine. In other words, just my cup of tea. After my marginal disappointment in “The Secret History of Wonder Woman”, I had high hopes for finding a new literary icon. Luckily, I was not disappointed.

“Girl Waits With Gun” recounts an early tale in the life of of Constance Kopp – one of the country’s first female deputy sheriffs. That lone is pretty badass, but as the story unfolded, I found plenty more about Constance to admire. Ms. Kopp is an unconventional woman by early 1900s mores. Opinionated. Independent. Unmarried. She has little interest in settling down or settling in general.

After the death of her mother, Constance must look after the younger members of her family and the family farm. However, their quiet and isolated life becomes disrupted when the villainous Henry Kaufman runs down their buggy and refuses to make amends.

Kaufman is a rich and prominent silk factory owner, who runs with a mafia of thugs and thinks himself above the law. Undeterred by Mr. Kaufman’s status and stature, Constance takes injustice into her own hands. What starts as a meager attempt to collect on the damages to her buggy evolves into a full-blown crime drama, with Constance caught in the middle. As the plot thickens, Henry Kaufman and his fellow criminals harass the Kopp family. Threatening letters arrive via “brick mail” through the bedroom window. Strange men stalk the farm.

Just about everyone in town tells Constance that she is out of her league and would be wise to back down. And where most protagonists in her situation might do just that, Constance Kopp stands her ground. She faces detractions rife with misogyny and disbelief in her ability (as a woman, of course) to stand up for anything, let alone take down a powerful bully. While most of polite society would have her drop her grudges and stay out of the way of a dangerous man, her spirit pervades and she remains vigilant to her cause. What makes Constance a heroine for the books (and an absolute IWOM inspiration) is her refusal to give up, even when everyone else  tells her the mission is doomed.

In fact, Constance is so ferocious in her determination that she teams up with the local sheriff. She learns to shoot a gun, packs a pistol by her bedside and finds herself meeting face to face with her enemies as part of a sting operation. She does all this with little fear and zero apologies. She thinks little of what anyone else thinks and always follows her instincts.

The book weaves an entertaining story full of family secrets, mystery and misadventure that I found difficult to put down. But what this International Woman of Mystery cherished most was the opportunity to follow a woman who knows what she’s after and will stop at nothing to make things right. Such trials do nothing to extinguish her spirit. Her journey serves only to bolster her conviction and her confidence.

I felt inspired by Constance, to continue my own pursuits towards fearlessness. While my challenges may not hold a candle to hers, I think we can all take a page from her book. Ms. Kopp proves that there can be heroism with heart and her tenacity is of an ilk we should all aspire to. I recommend “Girl Waits With Gun” to anyone looking for a fun and inspiring read and vow to channel a little of Constance’s spirit in my own future pursuits.

Jenny G.


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