Girl Waits with Gun by Amy Stewart

If you’ve never had the pleasure of reading Amy Stewart’s nonfiction, you’re missing out. The Drunken Botanist and Wicked Plants are two of the most charming and hilarious books about plants ever written. I say this as a horticultural librarian, so the range of plant-based literature I’ve read is actually quite large (for better or for worse). Needless to say, I was very much looking forward to reading her first novel. I was not disappointed, not even a little.

Truth is sometimes stranger than fiction, and women’s history is often more relevant than we’d like to admit. In this particular story, those two things combine to make one delightful mystery. Based on one of the first female sheriffs in the country, this novel follows the adventures of the Kopp family. Constance Kopp, soon to be thirty-five, is having a more adventurous year than she anticipated. The destruction of her buggy by an automobile sets off a series of increasingly alarming events. Constance and her sisters make quite the trio standing against the bullying, harassment, and threatening behavior of Henry Kaufman, the driver of the car (all true, no less).

Well researched and surprisingly true to history, Amy Stewart’s witty debut novel is full of charm. Although I imagined it as rather effective deadpan humor, Constance’s pragmatic voice is also one of a woman eschewing the expectations of 1914. What she must get done, she gets done. Even if it requires pinning a man to a wall and scaring him half to death. She’s my kind of lady. The novel is fun and fresh*, and Amy Stewart has managed to impress me once again. I highly, highly recommend it.

Girls Waits PairingFun fact about me: I hate popcorn, as in absolutely HATE it. This may (or may not) cause you to wonder what I eat when I go to the movies. This is a rarity in and of itself, but when I do, my snack of choice is a pretzel. Preferably with salt and mustard. So what does this have to do with Girl Waits with Gun? I’m getting there at my usual loquacious pace, but there is a connection. I promise (and I assure you it isn’t because Constance was eating overpriced dough from a theater). Constance and her sisters set out one dull day to go to the market, as they needed to buy mustard powder. On their way, they were hit by the automobile. So if it wasn’t for their lack of mustard powder, there would have been no adventurous year. Naturally this means the book needs to be with delicious, salty homemade pretzels and mustard (try this fantastic recipe from Love and Lemons). Enjoy.

*One of my favorites parts about the novel is that, even with three eligible women, there is no romance. In an era that seemingly insists that women be paired off, it’s refreshing to watch a character as fun as Constance take charge.

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