Girl Waits With Gun is a fictionalized version of a real incident occurring in 1915 in New Jersey. The incident involves a gangster running into a bugGirl Waits With Gun is a fictionalized version of a real incident occurring in 1915 in New Jersey. The incident involves a gangster running into a buggy belonging to Constance Kopp and her two sisters. When the sisters insist on collecting damages, the gangster embarks on a campaign of harassment, intimidation and threats. Ultimately, Constance teams up with a local sheriff to take the gangster down. This novel is often billed as a mystery, but it's really more historical fiction; there is not much mystery about it. This is more a portrait of a family and how these three eccentric women lean to cope with the situation and stand up for themselves. (There is a "side-quest" involving a missing baby, but it's tangential to the main plot). The personalities of the three sisters are very well drawn. Extensive flashbacks explain how they were raised by an emotionally troubled, paranoid ( and probably mentally ill), shut-in mother. The flashbacks flow naturally into their current characters. The three of them both rebel and conform to their mother's dysfunctional ideals. Constance, especially, is a well-drawn portrait of a repressed (though not necessarily unhappy) woman finally coming out from her shell and look around and consider life's possibilities. I found the portrayal of the sheriff to be quite refreshing. Novels set in this period (at least, the ones I have read) tend to paint lawmen as unbearably corrupt and useless. The sheriff, on the other hand, is a good man trying to do his best in an impossible situation. A more conventional novel would have painted them him and his men as crude, corrupt, and/or maliciously sexist. Same goes for the character of their brother, Francis, who is forever urging his unmarried sisters to come live with him. He is shown not as a pompous idiot trying to be controlling, but as a very worried brother, attempting to do the right thing. It's a more compassionate picture. The fact that this is based on a real-life incident and real life people is one I find both intriguing and troubling. Constance uses her experiences to become a... female private investigator!!! Sounds cliche, and yet... apparently the real Constance actually did do just that. Cool! On the other hand, this is putting made-up thoughts and feelings and hopes and dreams into the mouths and minds of people who existed in real life. Not a king or queen, but an ordinary people who probably valued their privacy and had their OWN thoughts and feelings and hopes and dreams. It is kind of like reading fan-fiction for real people, and makes me a little uncomfortable. That said, Girl Waits With Gun was well-written, interesting, and thoughtful. Definitely worth a read. ...more
This is just what its title says it is, a history of the rise and fall of the British nanny. It is a very thorough look, full of history, personal aneThis is just what its title says it is, a history of the rise and fall of the British nanny. It is a very thorough look, full of history, personal anecdotes, psychological insights, quotes from memoirs and literature.
Of course, this is an older book, from the 1970s, so the psychology seems... well, I'm hardly an expert, but it struck me as old-fashioned, and probably politically incorrect. However, it also had a lot of very interesting theories. Notably I was intrigued by the idea that the trope of the "angelic mother" found in late 19th-early 20th century literature was because upper class British mothers left all the harsh parenting to their nannies. So their children were left with an idealized portrait of motherhood which permeated the culture.
So, while I won't take its conclusions as gospel truth, I still found this a fascinating book. ...more