Amy Stewart, Girl Waits with Gun
Constance Kopp doesn’t 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 into hiding fifteen years ago. One day a belligerent and powerful silk factory owner runs down their buggy, and a dispute over damages turns into a war of bricks, bullets, and threats as he unleashes his gang on their family farm. When the sheriff enlists her help in convicting the men, Constance is forced to confront her past and defend her family — and she does it in a way that few women of 1914 would have dared. (Summary from Amazon.com.)
For some reason, I had a couple of erroneous expectations coming into this book. I thought it was a Western and pictured Constance Kopp as a sort of hotheaded, guns-blazing, Annie Oakley figure. In fact, the book is set in New Jersey, and Constance is definitely not the aggressive cowgirl I had imagined. She is certainly a strong woman, but her strength isn’t demonstrated by violence. Rather, she is strong in her sense of justice and in her determination not to be browbeaten by the factory owner just because he is rich and male. I really admired Constance and enjoyed her relationship with her sisters; it’s obvious that they get on each others nerves occasionally, but it’s equally obvious that they are very close. I also liked the book’s historical setting and how it showcased (in a non-preachy way) some of the difficulties women faced in the early 20th century. The “family secret” referenced in the summary was fairly easy to guess, but I didn’t mind it because it’s really not the focus of the novel. The book’s ending seems to leave room for a sequel, and I would definitely read one if it ever materializes!