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Dear Miss Kopp: A Kopp Sisters Novel


Dear Miss Kopp: A Kopp Sisters Novel

Amy Stewart is as well-known for her nonfiction writing as she is for her historical fiction. Her Kopp Sisters series, in fact, started with a tantalizing anecdote from a historical newspaper. As she points out in the lengthy and intriguing author’s notes that accompany each volume, she has endeavored to stick to the facts (as much as those facts are known) of her characters’ fascinating true biographies.

However, in her latest installment, Stewart admits that “I’ve had to veer even further into fiction for this novel because I don’t know exactly what the Kopp sisters were up to during World War I” (though she does offer a teaser that she’ll be back to verifiable facts in the next book). Needless to say, given Stewart’s reputation for historical research, the Kopp sisters’ adventures in this new volume, while invented, are nevertheless informed and inspired by several real-life people and events.

"DEAR MISS KOPP is a thoroughly engaging chronicle of a variety of women’s experiences during the First World War... Readers will be eager to see how [the Kopp sisters'] wartime experiences inform the choices they make next."

Since DEAR MISS KOPP finds Constance, Norma and Fleurette spread across two continents, it’s perhaps suitable that (as the title suggests) Stewart chooses an epistolary format this time. Oldest sister Constance has left small-town policing behind (perhaps for good?) and is now busily utilizing her investigative skills and fluent knowledge of German to unearth German spies as part of the Bureau of Investigation. Fleurette is constantly on the move, touring army training bases across the country as part of a musical cabaret. And Norma is at an undisclosed location in France, where her lifetime project of training homing pigeons is perhaps not as wholeheartedly adopted by the Allied forces as she might have hoped.

The three sisters’ missives to one another and to other friends and colleagues are hampered by slow postal services and the fear of censorship. But as readers will soon discover, they are equally hampered by their own self-censorship, as they are often reluctant to admit to one another directly when they are in danger, when they have made poor choices, or when they have failed. Instead, they are much more candid when they write to those outside the family, or, in Norma’s case, when a military nurse with whom she has become friendly decides to communicate to Constance the frustrations and complications that plague her time at the front. There is plenty of intrigue and danger to be found here, of course (it is a war story after all), but there is also more than a little humor, much of it bird-related.

Certainly many stories of World War I have already been told, but DEAR MISS KOPP helps bring to light much more of the women’s experience of war, both as part of the military complex and on the home front. Stewart writes of young ladies being held to an impossible and potentially hazardous double standard as they entertain the troops, but she also hints at ways in which women’s work on the home front started to pave the way for more professional opportunities, decades before Rosie the Riveter helped popularize this idea.

DEAR MISS KOPP is a thoroughly engaging chronicle of a variety of women’s experiences during the First World War, and it also helps set the stage for what the Kopp sisters will get up to after the war. Readers will be eager to see how their wartime experiences inform the choices they make next.

Reviewed by Norah Piehl on January 15, 2021

Dear Miss Kopp: A Kopp Sisters Novel
by Amy Stewart

  • Publication Date: January 12, 2021
  • Genres: Fiction, Historical Fiction
  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books
  • ISBN-10: 0358093120
  • ISBN-13: 9780358093121