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3.46 of 5 stars 3.46  ·  rating details  ·  518 ratings  ·  175 reviews
Beautiful, elusive, and refined, Etta Place captivated the nation at the turn of the last century as she dodged the law with the Wild Bunch, led by Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Her true identity and fate have remained a mystery that has tantalized historians for decades. Now, for the first time, Gerald Kolpan envisions this remarkable woman’s life in a stunning debu...more
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published March 24th 2009 by Ballantine Books (first published January 1st 2009)
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32nd out of 84 books — 78 voters
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,008)
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Feb 20, 2009 Amy rated it 1 of 5 stars
Shelves: vine, 2009
I really wanted to love this book.
It had everything going for it – a gun toting kick ass heroine, a historical mystery, my favorite genre (historical fiction), my favorite time period, and even a preferred historical fiction style of mixed media – journal entries, newspapers, and straight up fiction.
Only a little bit into the book, I conceded to myself that the dialogue was a little flat, but at least the action was interesting and the character of Etta had potential. While it might not be as a...more
Raised in the lap of luxury by her adoring father, eighteen-year-old Lorinda Jameson gets the shock of her life when she's left orphaned and with a mountain of debt - including huge gambling debts to the Black Hand mafia, who are determined to kill or maim anyone who can't repay. A family friend arranges for Lorinda to travel west and take employment as a Harvey girl, and now going by the name of Etta Place she serves meals to diners in Grand Junction Colorado. Everything goes well in her new li...more
I absolutley loved every page of this book and wished it was 500 pages instead of 300. Historical fiction based on facts of "Etta", the girlfriend of The Sundance Kid (of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid fame). Great story telling starting in 1898 Philadelphia going on to Grand Junction, Colorado and ending in New York City. The author makes you feel like you are riding on the horse behind her. Was glad to finish it only in the fact that I couldn't get anything else done but read this book!
Andrea Dowd
I won this book on GoodReads--thanks so much!

"Etta" is the imagined tale of an actual woman. Etta Place ran around with Butch Cassidy and was the "wife/partner" of the Sundance Kid. Then, she disappeared and now one knew anything else about her or her life. There is a ton of speculation about who and where this woman was, so what's a person to do but make up something super cool about her?

And that's what Gerald Kolpan did with "Etta". Etta is Lorinda Jamison, Philly socialite who is left orphane...more
Noe Crockett
Not that I'm well-versed on outlaws of the Old West, but I do know a little and I had never heard of Etta Place. Apparently she was a female outlaw who ran with Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, but little is known about her.

The author of this novel took what little is known about her and filled in the blanks with fiction. The book bounces around between traditional storytelling, Etta's journal entries, newspaper articles and letters from the Sundance Kid to his father. The format makes it re...more
There is a ton in this book and I ended up listening to it on audible, despite having a print copy of the ARC. I am a huge fan of adventure novels - especially ones with strong female characters. That is EXACTLY what this book is.. an adventure novel with all sorts of adventures. A historical fiction about Etta Place - a real woman who was part of the Wild Bunch.

I really made up some serious excuses to listen to this novel. I loved the romance, the suspense and really the time period in which th...more
(Audio book version) This is one of those books that started out pretty good, then just got worse and worse, until I finally just hated it and couldn't wait for it to end. It's a fictionalized story of Etta Place, the paramour of the Sundance Kid. Not much is known about her. So the author, with apparently not much research, just made up a story about her.

Now, to me, "historical fiction" is basically one of two things:

1. A story about a fictional person who lives during a historic time, or
2. A t...more
Elaine Cramer
I've given up on this book for now, possibly forever. So little time, so many books, right? I picked this book more or less at random, from reading the summary. Well, from skimming it. It sounded like a western with a female character. It is that, along with being a historical fiction about the woman known as Etta Place, lover of The Sundance Kid, and speculatively Butch Cassidy. However, in this re-work of history, she is only Sundance's lover.

Because I didn't thoroughly read the summary, the f...more
Sarah H
Inventive and imaginative historical fiction. Etta Place--sweetheart of the Sundance Kid--doesn't have much of a bona fide biography, so Kolpan invents one and seems to have had a great time doing so. Nasty outlaws, honorable cowboys, Pinkerton detectives, scary Mafioso precursors and a dizzying variety of historical figures (Buffalo Bill to Trotsky) cartwheel through the book--and it all works. A fun summer read.
I didn't like this book quite as well as Karen but was still a good read. Karen was right in that it would make a wonderful movie and I pick Angelina and Brad Pitt for the stars!
Jill Manske
This was a fascinating book that really captures the wild west spirit. Kolpan introduces real people and real events into the storyline so masterfully that you forget it's a work of fiction. That Etta Place could really be Lorinda seems totally believable. Even the "news" stories seem authentic. Kolpan has put his journalistic research skills to good use. Nonetheless, it''s a romanticized version of the Wild Bunch, with only one of them (Kid Curry) coming off as brutal and murderous. Like "Butch...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I had really hoped to like this one. It sounded so interesting: historical fiction based on the girlfriend/companion of outlaw the Sundance Kid. And she even helped with some of the hold-ups! What more could you ask for in a book?

I couldn't have been more disappointed. The character of Etta is so flat; and it's never clear WHY she's doing what she does, or how she feels as she's robbing and gun slingin'. Also, for a book that should be packed full of action and adventure, there isn't a whole lot...more
Paul Pessolano
If you looking for a good historical novel that takes place during the later 1800's and early 1900's, "Etta", would be a very good choice. The story is based on an actual person but little is known of her. Historians have tried to find out more about her, but as the author admits a lot of her story is left to the imagination.

Lorinda Jameson was born in Philadelpha of prominent parents. Her father, unfortunately, became overextended and was into the Philadelphia Mafia, also known as "The Black Ha...more
Not much is known about the legendary Etta Place who ran with the Outlaw bank robbing Hole- in-the-wall gang at the turn of the century. Where the historical record leaves off, Gerald Koplan steps in telling Etta’s imagined and incredible life story in his debut novel, Etta. Etta begins the story as a tom-boy debutante, lovely even though she prefers horseback riding and shooting to the tedium of parties. When her dad commits suicide, leaving her in financial ruin and threatened by some of his s...more
Tara Chevrestt
What an excellent story! I absolutely loved it. Half of it is true, half is made up, but it is historical fiction at its finest. Very little is known about the real life Etta Place, the lover of the Sundance Kid, but Kolpan takes what he does know and elaborates and adds to it and comes up with the most entertaining and spunky heroine. Beginning in 1898, we meet Lorinda Jameson, a wealthy debunte whose father kills himself, leaving her destitute, motherless, and owing money to the "mob" of that...more
American historical fiction is a tricky genre. For one thing, there isn't too much American history to choose from. Two hundred years is a relatively short time frame and when much of that period was taken up by western expansion, you end up with a lot of novels grouped under the Western genre heading.

Gerald Kolpan's debut novel, Etta, might have been just another western or frontier romance book but for one thing: Etta Place was an actual person.

Those of you familiar with Butch Cassidy and the...more
I enjoyed this book, and really appreciate that the author included a note in the end about the characters and the relationships that he made up on his own. He did take liberties with historical figures (Annie Oakley, Eleanor Roosevelt) that we know a good deal about, which might annoy fans of theirs, but I think it was well done. I do like how he included the things that are known for sure about Etta Place, but in the end Kolpan did create a very idealized woman of that time frame.

The thing th...more
Roger Miller
I would have given it a 4 or 5, I did not like how in the end Harry Longbaugh became a socialist. It was a good wake up call that in that generation there was a real call for equality for the worker, who many felt were mistreated. That we often forget that Banks and trains were targeted by bandits because the perception was that they had more than they needed and they had so much if would not be missed. The reality is if you think the wild bunch stole from the rich and gave to the poor, and star...more
We all know the legends about Butch Cassidy, the Sundance Kid, and many other anti-heroes of the West. But did you ever wonder about the women who loved them – like Etta Place? Little is known about the real Etta Place – her history, her legendary romance with the Sundance Kid, even her real name. In this fictionalized account, discover what might have happened…

What if Etta Place was really a Philadelphia debutante whose father was dealing with the wrong people and owed them a lot of money? W...more
Bonnye Reed
Excellent book - fictionalization as far as Etta goes, but fit into historically correct southwestern newspaper reports, journals and stories of the times. This novel rounds out the character and life of the Etta we get a brief glimpse of in the Butch Cassidy/Sundance Kid/Hole in the Wall Tall Tales of the turn of the 20th century. Gerald Kolpan brings to life a feisty, intelligent woman with adventure in her soul and the Pinkertons on her trail. I found myself rooting for her from the first pee...more
There hasn’t been much information known about Etta Place, the girlfriend of Harry “The Sundance Kid” Longbaugh. So when author, Gerald Kolpan, first heard about this, he became very intrigued and began to research all he could about Etta Place.

Mr. Kolpan’s first novel, Etta is a fictional story of just who Kolpan imagined Etta Place might have been and where she came from.

Lorinda Reese Jameson was born to a banker and his wife. When she was just eighteen years old, her father took his own lif...more
Etta is a step back in time, a window into the US at the turn of the century. I admired Kolpan’s ability to show us both the wild west and the refinement of New York and Philadelphia. The story at times kept me on the edge of my seat and was peppered with memorable characters.

Still, it was lacking a bit. Most of it was on the surface, Etta stuck in the tide of events that felt were conveniently put there for the benefit of the book. While I can appreciate the painstaking research and attention...more
This book wasn't terrible, certainly not as terrible as some of the other books I've given one star to, but it was just lacking. Halfway through I realized that it wasn't going to be what I expected and I just kind of wanted it to be over. Etta Place, the Sundance Kid's girl, is a totally mysterious and intriguing character, and the premise was great, as was the background and childhood that the author created for this real-to-history character, about which very little was known. But that's abou...more
Quick, interesting read. Not a great discussion book, but entertaining and enjoyable.

* Kolpan's imagined life of Etta Place, the Sundance Kid's girlfriend
* Laura Bullion/Della Rose, the tough, lady-of-few-words, Harvey girl roommate of Etta
* Butch Cassidy and Sundance Kid seemed like tough, interesting, loyal, Robin Hoods
* Pinkerton agent, Detective Siringo, was a worthy opponent
* Life as a Harvey girl, a waitress in a Harvey Restaurant
* Etta being a superb horsewoman and shot
* Harry's let...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Bookmarks Magazine

Kolpan's novel is light, entertaining fareóthe type of book one grabs on the way to a relaxing vacation. Several critics were diverted by Etta's encounters with various historical figures, including Eleanor Roosevelt, Leon Trotsky, Pinkerton detective Charles Siringo, and Annie Oakley, even if some thought that Etta herself wasn't fully believable. Others argued that the sheer number of characters was implausible and "pushing the limits of credibility" (USA Today). Additionally, while some criti

Take a variety of unlikely characters from 1890-1937, mix them in a unlikely adventurous tale, and you have ETTA . This loosely told but extensively researched novel intertwined Teddy Roosevelt, Annie Oakley, Eleanor Roosevelt, Fred Harvey! Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid into a marvelously captivating romp through the Wild West and the even wilder high society of New York. The novel spares no gritty detail of the life of the notorious Etta Place, a women who has remained masked in mystery, d...more
I enjoyed this book way more than I thought I might! The Old West is not really my favorite setting, and I don't really know much of anything at all about Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, so I wasn't sure how interested I would be in a story about the Sundance Kid's girlfriend. However, very soon after I started reading it, I found myself quite sucked in! In addition to the narration, it's told through a combination of letters, journal entries and newspaper articles, which adds to the feeling...more
Interesting concept for a book. The end of Etta's life is at the beginning of the book. Since very little is known of the real life of Etta, the alleged girlfriend of the Sundance Kid, the author said that he just used his imagination and was careful to place her where the Hole in the Wall gang was known to have been. The book combines Etta's "diary accounts," newspaper stories, etc. to tell the author's version of the story of her life. I didn't think I was going to like it because judging by t...more
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