It’s the spring of 1917 and change is in the air. American women have done something remarkable: they’ve banded together to create military-style training camps for women who want to serve. These so-called National Service Schools prove irresistible to the Kopp sisters, who leave their farm in New Jersey to join up.
When an accident befalls the matron, Constance reluctantly agrees to oversee the camp—much to the alarm of the Kopps’ tent-mate, the real-life Beulah Binford, who is seeking refuge from her own scandalous past under the cover of a false identity. Will she be denied a second chance? And after notoriety, can a woman’s life ever be her own again?
In Kopp Sisters on the March, the women of Camp Chevy Chase face down the skepticism of the War Department, the double standards of a scornful public, and the very real perils of war. Once again, Amy Stewart has brilliantly brought a little-known moment in history to light with her fearless and funny Kopp sisters novels.
About the Author
AMY STEWART is the New York Times best-selling author of the acclaimed Kopp Sisters series, which began with Girl Waits with Gun. Her six nonfiction books include The Drunken Botanist and Wicked Plants. She and her husband own a bookstore called Eureka Books. She lives in Portland, Oregon. For book club resources, Skype chats, and more, visit www.amystewart.com/bookclubs.
Read an Excerpt
Beulah knew it was over when she returned from lunch to find her desk cleared and a little box placed on the seat of her chair, like a gift.
PINKMAN HOSIERY, read the foil stamping. THREE DOZEN ASSORTED. It was the very style of box that Beulah had been hired to paste together when she started at the factory six months earlier, before she was promoted to office girl. She didn’t have to look inside to know that it held the contents of her desk drawer: her comb, her lip-stick, her extra handkerchiefs, and a subway token, along with the silk sheers that Mr. Pinkman bestowed upon every girl he fired as a final, guilty, lily-livered parting gift.
Beulah lifted the box slowly, as if in a dream, and looked around at the rows of desks surrounding hers. Mr. Pinkman employed a dozen office girls in a high-ceilinged but nevertheless cramped room, so that they were obliged to push their desks together and work elbow to elbow. There were no secrets among the typists and billing clerks.
Every eye in the room darted briefly up to Beulah and away again. Typewriters clattered, order forms shuffled, and chairs squeaked and groaned as the girls went about their business. Beulah knew that the dignified course of action was to clutch her little box to her chest and to skitter away quietly, blinking back a few repentant tears as she went out the door for the last time.
That’s how she used to do it, back when she first arrived in New York. She thought it was a requirement of the job to behave politely as she was being put out on the street. But then it occurred to her that once she’d been dismissed, she was free to do as she pleased.
What pleased her at that moment was to have a word with Mr. Theodore Pinkman, who was peeking out at her from behind the blinds in his office, like the petty and spineless man that he was. He loved to hide away in that wallpapered den of his, and pretend not to watch the girls in the next room.
He drew away when she caught him staring at her. Of course he did. He could never own up to anything. He was already fumbling to lock the door as she marched over, but he couldn’t manage it. For a man who manufactured ladies’ undergarments, he was utterly inept with handles, knobs, buttons, clasps, and other small fittings. Beulah had found it endearing at first, but lately she’d come to believe that there was something deficient in a man who couldn’t properly undress a woman—or fire one.
She gave the still-rattling doorknob a hard turn and shouldered her way in. Mr. Pinkman fell back against his desk, all two hundred and fifty pounds of him, blushing, sweating, his curly hair resisting his daily efforts to slick it down, those blue eyes, round as a child’s, registering a look of perpetual surprise.
He stumbled to his feet and tugged at his vest. “Ah—hello. I—”
“A little box on my chair, Teddy? Like I’m any other girl? I fixed your dinner last night. I made those damn little French potatoes that take an hour to peel because you won’t eat the skins. I ironed your collar — the one you’re wearing right now! And you send me away with a box of stockings?”
She tossed it down and it fell open. The contents were exactly as she’d expected, except for a folded bill on top. To her parting gift he’d added ten dollars.
Did Mr. Pinkman honestly think that would satisfy her?
He did. “There, you see? It’s not only stockings. You . . . you’ve been so much more to me . . . you know that . . . only, it seems that Mrs. Pinkman . . .”
He trailed off, finding himself unable to make the simplest of explanations for a circumstance that was as old as marriage itself.
“Mrs. Pinkman need never have found out, if you knew one thing about keeping a secret, which you don’t,” Beulah said. “What’d you do, leave a coat-check tag in your pocket? Come home with perfume on your handkerchief?”
He didn’t answer. He didn’t have to. It was always one or the other, the ticket or the handkerchief.
Beulah crossed her arms and paced around his office in a circle, as if she owned it, which she did, in that moment. “Well. What are we going to do now? You’ve dismissed me, because she insisted on it, and she’ll know if I’m still working here. She’ll come around and check. But she doesn’t know about our flat, does she? And you signed a lease through December.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Kopp Sisters On The March is the fifth book in the Kopp Sisters series by NYT best-selling American author, Amy Stewart. After a very public dismissal from her deputy’s position in Hackensack, and a depressing winter, in early 1917 Constance Kopp finds herself, with her sisters, Norma and Fleurette, and some two hundred other young women, at Camp Chevy Chase in Maryland. They are attending the National Service School, all her sister Norma’s doing. She quickly deduces that it’s more theatre than proper training, and is frustrated by the emphasis on knitting, cooking for convalescents and scientific bed-making. When the camp’s matron breaks a leg, Constance’s organisational nature takes hold, and her interim in-charge status soon extends to the duration of the program. One slight wrinkle is that Constance doesn't agree entirely with the established program, and is quickly tempted to add some more practical, useful activities. The sisters share their tent with two others, one of whom is not there to alleviate boredom, to socialise or to help the country’s war effort. Beulah Binford, going by the name of Roxanna Collins, is hoping to escape her notoriety by travelling to France with the other women at the end of her training. But various events at the camp bring back memories to haunt Beulah. Norma is apparently willing to forgo her access to the daily newspapers for the opportunity to bring her messenger pigeons to the Army’s notice. Ever the performer, Fleurette has already, much to Norma’s consternation, organised a show for the young women featuring May Ward. It turns out, however, that Norma’s instinctive reservations about May Ward’s husband, Vaudeville manager Freeman Bernstein, are right on the money. She exhibits admirable control while holding a revolver pointed right at him. Stewart’s Historical Notes are interesting and informative, revealing that Constance Kopp and her sisters were real people, much as described, as are quite a few of the other characters. Many of the events that form the plot also occurred, if not always when stated. Stewart takes the known historical facts and fleshes them out into a marvellous tale. While this time in history is still notable for the utter dependence and powerlessness of women, with men increasingly occupied by war, women are stepping up to show what they can do. Miss Kopp is still clever, resourceful and persistent; she’s also capable and caring. While this is the fifth book in the series, it can easily be read as a stand-alone. However, readers are likely to want to seek out the earlier books, and fans of Miss Kopp will not be disappointed: there is still plenty of humour in their dialogue. Let’s hope that Amy Stewart has more of the Sisters Kopp up her sleeve. Excellent historical fiction This unbiased review is from a copy provided by NetGalley, Houghton Mifflin Harourt and Scribe Publications.
I’m a huge Kopp Sisters fan.This book is slightly different from the past few but I love the new angle. The Kopp Sisters are attending A training camp at The National Service school in this mystery.Its meant to help women in their War efforts but you realize really quickly that it’s almost an extension of how men think women should contribute...cooking,cleaning and sewing.You get to meet the infamous Beulah Binford in this book. What I love about this series is that it’s based on true stories and has very strong feminine leads.They had to fight to do what they really wanted to do...be a Police Matron or train pigeons to be carrier pigeons in the war. Thankyou Netgalley and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for this wonderful ARC.
This is the best Kopp Sisters book in my opinion and I have enjoyed them all. The characters keep developing and growing which is amazing as it's based on real life people. The author says this has the most fiction in it and perhaps that really helped. Imagination is more entertaining than real life. When the book opens in 1917, Constance is still sulking after being fired as a deputy by the new sheriff. Norma is anxious to get her beloved pigeons in the war effort so she signs them and her sisters up for a National Service Schools camp where the organizers are trying to prove to the military that women have a place in the service of their country. At the camp of 200 women, the three sisters fit in right away. Norma runs pigeon training classes and Fleurette sews uniforms. Because of an unfortunate accident Constance becomes leader of the camp, a role she thrives in. In no time at all, she has whipped the girls into a discipline and routine that would make a general smile. They meet my favorite character, Beulah Binford. Beulah has been involved in the scandal of the century and her face has been plastered across every newspaper in the country. As you get to know her story you really feel sorry for her and end up rooting for her to have a second chance in life. Beulah is a real life person. As always, Stewart has done meticulous research and the times are really brought to life. It's hard to believe that just 100 years ago women had basically no rights and no real role to play other than wife and mother. It's such a lovely reminder to think of the women who opened doors for the rest of us. The Kopp sisters are such unique people and are really are the last women you would think would be in the forefront of opening doors for other women but there they are. Constance is in the woods teaching women how to shoot guns and do body take downs. Norma is single minding designing and implementing her pigeon program. Fleurette is pursuing her entertainment career secure in the knowledge that she is a worthy person. They are wonderful role models and inspiring to read about. They are funny and good. In a world where I read too many characters I don't like it is so refreshing to read about likable people that I enjoy spending time with. I can't wait to discover what happens next. Thanks to Net Galley for a copy of the book in exchange for a fair review.
historical-figures, historical-places-events, historical-research, historical-fiction, WW1 If you've read any of Ms Stewart's books, you already know that solid research comes first and the fiction wraps around it so readers will remember. The Kopp sisters, and especially Constance, have been the subjects of four earlier books and this is based on a period in time when their real lives take a backseat. The other notable characters are also very real and are documented at the end of the book. Her style of writing is as engaging as the characters and I devoured it in one afternoon. I requested and received a free ebook copy from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt via NetGalley. Thank you so much! I was disappointed at the end to find out that Norma was not actually into the National Pigeon Service, but if you care to read a novel about the British Pigeon Service I heartily recommend The Long Flight Home by Alan Hlad.
This is the fifth book in the Kopp Sisters series, I must confess I have not read any of the others but that did not lessen my enjoyment of reading this one. Overall, the book examines what it means to escape your past and yourself. All of the main characters were strong, interesting women and the setting is one part of American history that is not much written about. I look forward to the Kopp Sisters' next adventure.
Read this book! The Kopp sisters- Norma, Constance, and Fleurette- were real people (make sure to read the afterword AFTER you read the book) and they lived fascinating lives. Set in 1917, this takes them to a National Service camp, set up to train women in advance of WWI to be, well, helpers not necessarily in the war zone but in general. Norma, however, has other thoughts- she breeds homing pigeons and is determined that they will be critical for communications in Europe. Constance is drifting after losing her law enforcement job and Fleurette is also a tad at sea after coming home from a tour with a performing troupe. Throw in Beulah Binford and you've got quite a tale. Beulah also was a real person and Stewart spins her story out over the course of this novel, alternating it with the events in the camp, which heat up, btw once Constance takes charge. This has delightful characters and Stewart is a terrific storyteller. Don't worry if you haven't read the previous books (although you really should at some point because they are awesome)- this is fine as a standalone. Thanks to net galley for the ARC. This is a wonderful and highly entertaining read.
I loved this brilliant book! It's #5 in the series and the best one yet! Plus you can read this as a stand-alone, but be warned - if this is your first Kopp Sisters book, after reading this one you'll want to read all the others, too. (In order). The clever and well-written story begins in the spring of 1917 just before war is declared. The Kopp sisters (Constance, Norma and Fleurette) join a military-style training camp for women near Richmond, VA and Stewart combines fact with her imagination to create an entertaining novel whose theme is reinvention. I don't want to say more since part of the pleasure of this book is discovering for yourself the plot twists, the character development, themes of family, strong women, and the humor sprinkled throughout this memorable novel. Thanks to author Amy Stewart for sending me an ARC with a fun package as a member of the Kopp Sisters Literary Society. All thoughts and opinions are my own.